“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—; I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” This snippet from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken spoke to Jim Binns, proprietor and winemaker at the instantly cult wine, Andremily.
Jim’s a young guy (just 36) yet he’s had a lifetime of experiences. Tragedies, including the sudden death of his older brother, a lawyer who died in court. But also some triumphs, such as being selected at 26 to be Manfred Krankl’s CellarMaster at Sine Qua Non (SQN), getting married to Rachel and having two kids (Andrew and Emily, thus the wine’s name). And some challenges, such as taking his life savings to open his own winery. A gutsy roll of the dice.
I visited with Jim last week. He’s a farm boy from Lancaster, who works for the most exclusive winery in the world. (I’ve been on SQN’s wait list for eight years.) Some wine folks are snobs. And Jim, with his pedigree of a Cal Poly education and working at SQN, would be justified in being another one.
He’s far from that. He’s a touch reserved but quite willing to discuss wine for as long as you wish. And he’s justifiably proud of his own creation.
Jim’s dedicated to Syrah. For the 2012 bottling, he used Syrah grapes from two Central Coast vineyards, Larners and White Hawk, with just a touch of Viognier and Mourvedre.
We barrel-sampled different components of future vintages of Andremily. His goal in the vineyard is to create wines that don’t require a lot of intervention from the winemaker. If the samples of the 2014 White Hawk, the 2013 Harrison Clark, the 2013 Larners, and the 2014 Santa Barbara Highlands Mourvedre are any indication, he’s met his goal.
The Syrahs were all inky black, with a bouquet of black licorice and berries. The tastes varied, of course, going from ripe blackberries to pepper to tobacco. They are super tight but will yield upon coaxing. They’re amazing, with a taste that seems to hang on forever. And the Mourvedre? Tastes of super ripe black cherries, it’s a monumental wine.
Jim’s road less traveled? It was to apprentice with a genius before venturing out on his own. It was the right decision.
© Carl Kanowsky