Wines of the Wild, Wild “North”West

The opening class for the fall-winter Wine 101 series at Bin 36, located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood, was held on Wednesday, September 14th.  Four wines were featured, 2 each from Oregon and Washington.  All were fantastic!  Great questions were asked by the attendees. Information on the history, climate, AVAs, varietals, and key players within each state was shared.  The highlight of the night was, of course, the tasting!

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Oregon’s treasures were up first, with a 2014 Pinot Gris from A to Z.  Grapes are sourced from 30 vineyards and fermented separately to create this beauty.  Each vineyards brings a little something special to the blend- spice, floral notes, citrus, etc…The winery doesn’t allow any malolactic fermentation to occur, choosing  instead to retain the bright “freshness and purity” of the fruit. (A to Z)

The “king” of grapes in Oregon is Pinot Noir…my personal favorite red varietal!!!!  The 2013 Van Duzer Pinot Noir- Willamette Valley is a true winner…taking multiple awards in its short life.  French-born winemaker, Florent Merlier, uses 8 Pinot Noir clones to bring this gem to life. This wine danced across my palate…almost making me want to sing! I will be adding this to my Pinot Noir collection.


We then moved to our two wines from Washington. 2014 Milbrandt Traditions Riesling from the Evergreen Vineyard in the Ancient Lakes, Columbia Valley region was surprisingly refreshing.  I am usually not one for “off dry” wines, but the short, stainless steel fermentation keeps the wine crisp with vibrant acidity that plays well with the bit of residual sugar I tasted on the finish.  It may just have converted me!  I could see this pairing well at Thanksgiving, as many in my huge family prefer wines on the sweeter side.

Finally, our last wine, also came from Columbia Valley…Charles Smith’s Velvet Devil Merlot.  Sourced from seven vineyards, the Merlot blend (94% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc) was true to its name…is was luscious, like velvet, full body, dense, and smooth.  The tasters were imagining drinking with red delight with a number of their favorite dishes.

Class 2 will be held at Bin 36 on Wednesday September 28th- How to Build Your Own Wine Flight.  Registration is still open.  Go to and join us for another fantastic evening.

About sommeliersusie

Owner of Tasteful Adventures- private in-home wines tastings Boisset Wine Living Ambassador- private and corporate wine tastings and direct to consumer sales, corporate gifting, Wine Educator, Sommelier- Level 1 Court of Master Sommelier, BASSETT Certification, French Wine Scholar, Member Guild of Sommeliers
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