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New From Australia & The Cellar


New from Australia


   With Spring here, we are receiving a lot of great, hard to find wines. I tasted a few Australian wines worth mentioning. It’s been a good while since I’ve had something from Australia that’s really knocked my socks off.


2006 Elderton Command Shiraz

   It’s not every day I get to taste a $90 bottle while on the clock.  This is a huge wine, with blueberry liqueur, vanilla and a toasty mocha note in the nose.  In the mouth, it is full bodied and has mouth coating tannins.  It is young, but is nicely balanced.  This would be a great bottle to age 15 years.


2008 Rocky Gully Shiraz/Viognier

   To me this is what an Aussie wine should be. The ripeness is there, but everything is in balance. The nose is expressive, with blueberry, cracked pepper and noticeable smokiness. In the mouth, bright red and blue fruit and medium acidity. It’s on sale for $12.99 for the rest of the month. It is a steal!



New From the Cellar


2009 Loring Pinot Noirs 

   The more I taste, the more I like the wines from Loring.  His single vineyard Pinots really do showcase the fruit coming out of the respective vineyard.  The Rosella’s Vineyard was one of the best Pinot Noirs I’ve had in the past year and a half.  Not syrupy sweet and not wimpy, either.  At $40 for Brian Loring’s single vineyard Pinot Noirs, they are in a sweet spot for high quality and well priced.  


2009 Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel

   During prohibition, “black chicken” was a code for alcohol or wine.  Sourcing from older Zin vines in Oak Knoll, the Black Chicken always delivers a beautifully ripe and rich Zin.  It matches up well with pretty much anything off of the grill. 


2008 Ramey Pedrigal Vineyard

   Sourced from Oakville, this monstrosity will cellar easily for 15+ years. 


2007 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet

   From their storied estate in Calistoga, the Montelena Cab generally needs a few years to mature before it’s really ready to go.  The price is hard to argue with coming from the great 2007 vintage. 


2008 Continuum

   This is sourced from one of the most beautiful spots in Napa, Pritchard Hill.  Producers like Bryant Family and Chappellet also source from there as well.  Even though the Continuum label has only existed since the 2005 vintage, this will be a long lived bottle of wine from a well respected fruit source.


Please contact your favorite Binny’s for availability. 

Annual Homebrew Contest Winners Recognized


Today Binnys in the South Loop held a homebrew competition. We had to limit the number of entries to 50 this time around for a number of reasons. The quality of the beers us judges tasted was well above what any of us predicted. We would like to congratulate the winners and thank each and every person that entered a beer into our competition.


First Place Rodney Kibzey, Black IPA (Pictured on Right)

Second Place Adam Halon, Imperial Stout (Also won best label)

Third Place Benjamin Saller, Saison

Fourth Place Tim Lovell, American Pale Ale

Fifth Place Adam Jaworski, Imperial Stout

Sixth Place Michael Palet, Imperial Stout

Seventh Place Craig Johnson, Double Stout

Eighth Place Mark LACroix Oaked Porter

Ninth Place Michael Dow, American Pale Ale

Tenth Place Matt North, Tripel


We would also like to thank Sam Adams for all their help, and for bringing a brewer all the way from Boston to pour for the beer and cheese pairing. We hope everyone had a wonderful time, and look forward to doing this again in the future.

Annual Homebrew Contest Winners Recognized


This past Saturday Binny’s in the South Loop hosted their annual homebrew competition.  It was amazing for us to see just how popular homebrewing is becoming.  This year our contest filled up in a record 13 minutes, whereas our previous years contests took several days to fill up.  The quality of the homebrews also greatly exceeded past years’ entries.  We would like to congratulate the winners and thank each and every homebrewer who entered a beer into the competition.  A special thanks also goes out to Sam Adams for all of their contributions. Without further ado, here is the list of winners:

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Annual Homebrew Contest Returning to South Loop


Binnys South Loop is hosting their 4th annual homebrew contest sponsored by Samuel Adams on Saturday, April 9th from 12:00-2:00pm. There is no charge to enter the contest, but entries will be limited to the first 50 beers submitted. Each entrant may only enter one beer. Entrants need to drop two 12oz bottles or one 22oz bottle of their beer off at Binnys South Loop on Tuesday 4/5 or Wednesday 4/6, along with your entry form rubber banded around your beer. Judging will take place Friday, and winners will be announced on Saturday around 1pm. You must be present to win. 1st place will be a trip for two to the Great American Beer Fest that includes tickets, airfare, and hotel. Nine runners up will win valuable prizes, and every entrant will take home a free gift when they drop their entries off.  New to the homebrew contest this year are prizes for best lager and best ale.  Beers don’t need to include labels, although the entrant with the most creative label will take home a valuable prize.  The event also includes a Samuel Adams beer and cheese pairing and raffles for beer themed prizes.  We will be passing out the beer evaluation sheets with judges comments to all participating homebrewers on the day of the event. The Boston Beer Company has also told us they will tapping something unique at the Binny’s South Loop bar for the event.
Contact with any questions, or leave a comment on the blog.  Click here for an entry form.  Good luck to everyone!

Big Muddy Brewing Debuts


Five of our stores are featuring a new Illinois brewery called Big Muddy Brewing.  We are not sure if Big Muddy can be classified as local though, considering their hometown of Murphysboro is close to a six hour drive from Chicago.  Murphysboro is one town over from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, where Big Muddy founder Chuck Stuhrenberg attended college and first started brewing in the 1980’s.  Chuck’s dreams finally became a reality in July 2009 when he opened the brewery.


Big Muddy Brewing currently offers three beers, with a lager coming in the near future. Kinkaid Wheat was the first beer offered up by the brewery, and would be a good craft beer transition brew for those used to the conventional corporate brew.  Saluki Dunkel Dog is a dark amber / dunkel style beer named for the mascot of the Southern Illinois Salukis.  The newest addition to the brewery’s lineup is Big Muddy Pale Ale, a balanced and easy drinking version of the style.


As noted above, the Big Muddy brews are currently available at only five of our stores:  Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Plainfield, St. Charles, and Willowbrook.  April is the ideal time to sample all three of the brews because they are incorporated into our American Craft Beer Sale and on sale for only $3.99 per 22oz bottle for the entire month of April.

April is American Craft Beer Month at Binny’s


We are continuing the tradition of designating April as American Craft Beer Month here at Binny’s. Featuring more than 550 beers, this is without a doubt our biggest and boldest beer sale of the year. You will realize the size and scope of the sale when walk into the American craft beer section at your local Binny’s and see more of the yellow sale hang tags at once than you ever have in your life. Don’t miss your chance to sample many of these brews along with rare and vintage beers during our last two Binny’s Craft Beer Road Show stops.

Wine, Bread and Terroir

   The wine world is driven by tales. There are tales about wines and, I swear, wine with tails. A common tale most wine stories share is that terroir matters. A little “highbrow” for me, and I suspect I’m not alone.

   If you can’t make head or tail of it, think about terroir as the difference that seems to make a difference. Winemaker and blogger Randall Grahm hits the bull’s-eye again. Can we then go further and say that bread has its own terroir too?

   Dig deeper and it grows gloomier. Mercifully, this is where Jonathan Nossiter comes in. His 2004 film, “Mondovino,” a dark comedy about wines of our times, is a unique piece of a winespeak. His latest book, “Liquid Memory” is no less ambitious. Most wine books maintain a sulky silence on non-wine related subjects. Nossiter gets the bigger picture. His discussion of terroir in life, cinema and wine, flashes by in a handful of pages. He claims that the fight for terroir in our life is a battle for individuality, for the right to preserve our expression of diversity. Above all, it is all about our right to maintain cultural identity. There is no doubt that bread and wine are the subjects of this crusade.

   In order to speak terroir, both wine and bread are usually made in small batches. It allows a winemaker and a baker to have control over the process of preserving the product’s identity. Artisan wine, and artisan bread, are messengers of a simple truth: “You will remember me because I help you see the difference.”

   At Binny’s we can help you taste the difference, too.

   When the Easter season approaches, cooks all over the world prepare special baked goods. Jews have their matzah on the night of the Passover dinner, Christians bake rich yeast-raised breads, full of milk, butter and eggs. There are unique Italian Easter breads, pan dolce from Genoa, full of pine nuts, raisins and candied fruit peel, and Umbria’s cheese-flavored crescia. Germans and Austrians make several versions of striezel (stacked braided bread) and osterzopf (Easter braid). Poles and Bulgarians have a rich bread-like cake called babka in Poland and kozunak in Bulgaria; the Czechs bake Easter buns velikonocni pecivo.

   Binny’s in Niles holds the wine list to the perfect Easter brunch, and on April 14, we  will partner with Oak Mill Bakery in an event that promises plenty of pleasant surprises to your Easter basket. This will definitely be a unique wine tasting as you will be able to sample not only special wines, but also several varieties of Easter breads and many other European-style baked specialties. A true Easter egg hunt for adults, or should I say a true “terroir hunt” for adults!

   Lots of fun on the nose, with a noticeable hint of terroir on palate.


– Jarek Lewandowski is a wine manager at the Niles Binny’s.

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