Wine Tasting At Binny’s – You’ll Want To Try These Wines

Mo Wine Please

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a good old wine tasting roundup. So let’s do this!

Last night, Peter and I met up with my folks and sister-in-law, Kate, for an evening of wine tasting at the brand new Binny’s Beverage Depot in Lincolnwood.

Binny's Beverage Depot Lincolnwood

The theme for the night was “California Wines” so this was right up my alley.

Binny’s set up 7 tasting stations throughout the store with six to eight different wines being poured at each station. There were lots of fellow tasters present but it didn’t feel crowded because of the fabulous setup.

Now the wines.

Chardonnay

My step-dad who, by the way, turned 98 on the 4th of July, was in search of a new Chardonnay to add to his list of favorite wines.

Wine tasting at 98

The favorites among the Chardonnays were:

2013 DuMol Chardonnay

The 2013 DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($55) is a wonderfully complex wine with layers of flavor. It has great body and a pleasing finish. The winemaker says that the 2013 vintage is very strong in this coastal region of Sonoma County. He feels that this wine could age for five to seven years.

2014 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Another favorite was the 2014 Flowers Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($45). This wine, made from grapes sourced from several of the Flowers vineyards literally right on the Pacific Coast, has a bit more minerality while still providing plenty of the honey and citrus notes that Chardonnay lovers love.

2014 Stags Leap Chardonnay If you are looking for something at a more modest price point, try the 2014 Stags Leap Napa Valley Chardonnay ($20). A bit less complex that the two wines above, the Stags Leap still provides lots of flavor and quality for the price. It is crisp and clean and quite good.

2014 Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

The 2014 Chalk Hill Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($18) has a bit more of a creamy flavor but still with enough acidity to provide good balance. This could be a nice choice for a house Chardonnay.

Other White Wines

2015 Cade Sauvignon Blanc

The 2015 Cade Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($33) was a big hit. Cade is a member of the wonderful PlumpJack family of wines. I love a Sauvignon Blanc that is crisp and refreshing without being too citrusy. The Cade Sauvignon Blanc delivered this profile beautifully.

2014 Jaffurs Viognier

I was drawn to taste the 2014 Jaffurs Bien Nacido Vineyard Viognier ($27) based on two things: I love Viognier and I love any wine that comes from the Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Barbara.

Remember what I’ve said, if you ever see a wine with “Bien Nacido Vineyard” on the label, you can be pretty certain it will be awesome.

Red Wines

Because we are experiencing a heat wave here and temperatures are hovering around a zillion degrees, we were all inclined to try more white wines than red wines.

Still, I am a red wine gal so I soldiered on.

2012 The Pairing Red Blend

The Pairing is what you might call the younger sibling of Jonata and The Hilt, two ridiculously outstanding wine producers. The same winemaker is responsible for all three members of the family and the quality shows.

While the 2012 The Pairing Red Blend ($25) contains some Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, the highest percentage of the blend is Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine tastes like a classic Napa Cabernet but at a fraction of the price.

2013 Emmolo Merlot

Merlot, unfairly criticized in the movie, Sideways, can be the perfect wine for folks who want a bold red but prefer slightly softer tanins than what is usually found in Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2013 Emmolo Merlot ($56) comes from the Oak Knoll region of Napa Valley which has both the best soil and best climate for growing Merlot grapes. This lovely wine is smooth and has all the great flavors of luscious fruit balanced by a touch of earthiness.

By the way, Emmolo is part of the Wagner Family Wines which include Caymus and Conundrum.

2014 Cane and Fable Cabernet 373

We first discovered this wine on a trip to Solvang and Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County. Then the winery was called Cane & Fable but they have rebranded as The Fableist. Either way, the wine is quite recognizable because of the grasshopper on the label.

The 2014 The Fableist (Cane & Fable) Cabernet Sauvignon 373 ($23) is produced in Paso Robles and drinks like a Napa Cabernet at more than twice the price. This gem of a wine is a real bargain and could absolutely be a great choice for a red house wine.

I love the description by the winemaker:

“Every little sip leaves you comfortable, content and just feelin’ lucky.”

We did, indeed, feel lucky to have had the opportunity to try so many great wines at Binny’s. And, hopefully, our research will give you a few suggestions for new wines to try.

Do you have any new favorites to share with me?


Please note:

  • I received no compensation from Binny’s or the wineries. The wine tasting was complimentary for anyone with a Binny’s loyalty card.
  • The prices listed are Binny’s. You should be able to find these wines at your local stores but the price may vary.

Designated driver, Uber or cab

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Wines For A Girlfriends’ Getaway

As the saying goes, the one thing better than owning a yacht is having a friend who owns a yacht.

The same can be said for vacation homes.

And a friend’s vacation home is the perfect venue for a girlfriends’ getaway.

We arrived to see our chairs all set up by the pool. One for me, one for Belle, one for PJ and one for our hostess, Woody.

pool

We were reminded that the routine here is: pajamas to swim suit to pajamas.

It doesn’t get more relaxing than that!

And what is the perfect beverage for an afternoon by the pool?

How about a Rosé of Pinot Noir?

Cyprus Rose of Pinot Noir

Our hostess introduced us to the 2014 Cyprus Rosé of Pinot Noir. From the Anderson Valley in Sonoma County, this crisp and delicious Rosé was the perfect late summer afternoon treat.

We also opened a bottle of The Valley Project 2013 Viognier.

The Valley Project Viognier

Also known as AVA Santa Barbara, this winery is a “must visit” part of the Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara. AVA Santa Barbara explores the different wines coming from the many microclimates throughout Santa Barbara County.

Viognier is a great food wine and a great white wine alternative for those who eschew Chardonnay. It offers a great balance of full body and low acidity.

Perfect with a yummy cheese platter!

cheese platter

One night we were treated to beef and chicken kabobs on the grill.

The wine we chose to pair with dinner was the 2007 Darioush Merlot.

2007 Darioush Merlot

(I’m glad that I’m no longer in a fight with Darioush because we have lots of their wine in our cellar and I want to enjoy them without a side of bitterness.)

Expressing dark fruits and a bit of smokiness, this Merlot was perfect with our savory kabobs.

Each night we played board games, including my favorite game of all time, Personal Preference.

Personal Preference

This fabulous game from the 80s challenges players to guess their opponents preferences in the categories food & drink, people, activities and potpourri. It’s no longer in print, but you can still find Personal Preference on eBay or Amazon.

For those of you who haven’t read the funny story about me trying to buy this game back in the day, here goes.

I was introduced to Personal Preference on a visit to my pal, Catherine. As soon as I returned home I was on a mission to find a copy of the game for myself.

Remember, this was 1980-something – WAY before Amazon, in fact even before the internet.

I had to make calls (on a telephone attached to the kitchen wall if you can imagine!) to track down my prize.

My first call was to a local store called Kroch & Brentano’s.  I tried them first because they were sort of a niche bookstore that carried some fancy pants, non-mainstream games.  No Milton Bradley, no Parker Brothers, but games like Broderbund, etc.  Anyway, this is how my phone conversation with the nice clerk went:

Me: Hello, I am calling to see if you carry the board game, Personal Preference.

Clerk:  I’m not familiar with that game. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Me: It’s an adult specialty game.  (Yes, I actually said that.)

Clerk: (after a long and awkward silence) I’m sorry ma’am.  We don’t carry that type of game here.

CLICK.

Oh boy…

Sooooo, back to the wine.

Our hostess, Woody, loves Pinot Noir. Let me present the 2012 Penner-Ash Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir.

2012 Penner Ash Pinot Noir

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from Oregon is very rich, fruity and spicy. Throw in a bit of chocolate and velvety floral notes and you have a definite winner.

There really is nothing like time spent with great girlfriends. Delicious food, great wine and the adult specialty game, Personal Preference, added to the success of our trip.

Indeed, if Clare, Zsa Zsa and Nora had been able to join us the visit would have been perfect!

wine glass half empty

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