Bin 36 Wine Flight

Wine & Cheese Tasting Chicago Style

Bin 36 Wine FlightLast week I took a trip up to Chicago to visit my sister and we wined and dined ourselves at some interesting and tasty restaurants. And one of the most fun adventures was our wine and cheese tasting at Bin 36.

Bin 36 is just a little off Michigan Avenue and is a popular place for early evening get-togethers. The restaurant is very spacious with tables for dining, at least 2 bars and a private party area upstairs. They have a menu which groups both cheeses and wines into regions where you can pair the wines with similar area cheeses or just order individually. We decided on a flight of wines, each to our particular tastes, and shared a cheese flight as well.

Cheese Flight BoardOur cheese flight, better known as Positive Algebra, consisted of 4 cheeses, Cocoa Cardona from Wisconsin, a creamy, mild goat cheese dusted with cocoa powder (excellent), Bella Vitano, also from Wisconsin, with a nutty flavor and bathed in balsamic vinegar (oh so excellent), a Spanish manchego marinated in olive oil and rosemary (again an excellent choice) and lastly Barely Buzzed from Utah, a heartier cheese with an expresso crust. All this is served with green apple slices and wonderfully crisp crostini.

2011 Hacienda Los Haroldos MalbecMy wine flight consisted of 4 red wines from Argentina & Chile. I have to say that the first wine was really the best of the four. The first was a 2011 Malbec from Hacienda Los Haroldos. The bouquet was not as evident as I would like but the fruit forward taste was definitely enjoyable. Flavors of dark cherry and plum were most prominent with balanced tannins and notes of vanilla, chocolate and toasty oak.  I would rate this a 3.5/5 and would order again. Purchase at the store for around $9 a bottle.
2012 Merino SyrahMy second wine was a 2012 Merino Syrah, a medium weight red wine from Chile. This was another fruit forward wine with a nice balance and some acidity. Not as rich in flavor as I would have liked following the Malbec but I could detect tastes of blackberries and raspberries with a long minerality and spiciness at the finish. Rating of 3/5. Purchase for around $17 a bottle.
Crios red blendThird was the 2012 Crios Red Blend from Argentina. A long name for this varietal that encompasses the Malbec plum flavors (40%) with the cherries and raspberries from the Bonarda (40%), the blackberries and blueberries from the Tannat (15%) and spicy black pepper and cloves from the syrah (5%). As you can see it is a veritable fruit cocktail and is slightly different than your average blend, however it does hold its own and the finish is enjoyable. Rated 3/5 or maybe 3.5/5 and averaging about $12 per bottle.
2010 Morande CarmenereLastly was a 2010 Morande Carmenere from Chile. This red was the most complex of the four with flavors of ripe blackberries and hazelnuts and an earthy texture with hints of green peppers and smoke. It had a rounded mouth feel with soft tannins and a somewhat long finish but didn’t sit well on my palate. It also seemed out of order with the flight choices. Rated 2.5/5 and runs about $12 per bottle.
Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Catena Malbec

2011 Catena MalbecThis past weekend I celebrated my wedding anniversary and on Saturday my husband and I stopped by Legal Seafood for a late afternoon drink and appetizer. We both decided to try one of the bartender’s recommendations, the 2011 Catena Malbec, Vista Flores. It was a great decision as this wine was not too dry like a Cabernet and not too light like a Merlot.

Catena Malbec is a medium to full-bodied red produced in the Mendoza region of Argentina known for their Malbecs, Cabernets, Syrahs and Tempranillos. This particular wine was a nice dark ruby color, had a slightly peppery nose and flavors of rich plum and blackberry with hints of mocha, fennel and vanilla on the finish.  It was well-balanced and pairs well with many different foods. We thoroughly enjoyed it along with our hot crab dip and wonton appetizers. I will definitely look for this malbec next time I shop for wines and stock up with a bottle or two.

Food Pairing: Malbec is a very versatile wine which can accompany lean meats, lamb, pork , spicy dishes from Mexico, India, Thailand or Italy as well as the sharper, harder cheeses.

Price Average: $15  

rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Navarro Correas Malbec

Navarro Correas Malbec Coleccion PrivadaWhat a surprise this wine was when I had it recently. We were having a dinner of grilled steak and vegetable shish kabobs and I wanted something that would complement the beef. This versatile wine fit the bill perfectly.

This Argentinean wine, grown in the Mendoza region known for its superb Malbecs, greets you with aromas of herbs, flowers, cherries and plum and then the intense flavors of wild berries, cherries, plums and figs with hints of chocolate, vanilla and smoke explode on your palate. There is a spicy intensity to this wine, along with a slight oakiness, that carries its flavors right through to the lingering finish. Not only will you find this is a better than average wine but also a bargain at under $10. Stock up on this one if you enjoy an aromatic and spicy Malbec.

Food Pairing: Malbec is one of those wines that go with just about anything. Whether it is a filet mignon, spicy Mexican, Thai or Italian meal, lamb, game, semi-hard cheeses or even barbecue, this wine won’t disappoint.


3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2007 Bodega Norton Privada

I first had this at a neighbor’s house and was so impressed that I had to ask where he bought it and stock up on some myself. This is a wonderfully delicious wine for that special occasion and one that won’t make a big dent in your wallet.

2007 Bodega Norton Privada

2007 Norton Privada

A fruit-forward Malbec/Bordeaux blend from Argentina with just the right amount of spiciness and minerals. Comprised of 40%Malbec, 30% Cabernet and 30% Merlot it is the perfect combination that is both well balanced and full-bodied. Aromas of blackberry, raspberry, chocolate and smoke greet your nose and upon first sip you will be met with flavors of cherry, dark fruit and toasty oak along with a naturally smooth, slightly chocolatey finish.

A great wine for the money. Decant prior to serving to enhance aromas and flavors.

Food Pairing: Pair this wine with steak, braised or barbecued beef, game, lamb, Mexican, Italian or other spicy ethnic foods as well as bratwurst and other hearty meats. Truly a versatile wine!

Price Point: $19.99

Rating 4 out of 5