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Bin 36's New House Wine Has A Touching Family Story Behind It

By John Lenart in Food on Mar 11, 2016 4:11PM

Bin 36 Owner Enoch Shully and daughter Tulah. Photo Credit: Angela Burke

When Bin 36 shuttered its River North location at the end of 2015 and reopened under new ownership in the West Loop, many things changed. Gone were the dramatic soaring ceilings and the bible sized wine list. They were replaced with a cozier room and tight, one-page list. All of that was part of the plan for Owner Enoch Shully.

“People can come in and feel at home. They don't have to wear a suit, just feel relaxed. We wanted to make it more warm and inviting, and so far we've had very positive feedback,” says Shully.

The list, now considerably shorter than in its previous incarnation, still maintains a global reach. “We have wines from as far as Uruguay and Macedonia, we touch every corner of the world. We are trying to broaden what we offer people and give them a chance to try different varietals. Our list is very diverse,” says Shully.

One thing Shully has not changed entirely from the original Bin 36 is the house brand wine. He has however put his own personal touch into a new wine under the Bin 36 label. Shully formed a new partnership with Cass Wines, voted as 2015 Central Coast winery of the year. What the partners developed is “Bin 36 Cuvée Tulah.”

So many house branded wines are just that, a label and some juice. What they often lack, besides character, is a story. Well that's not the case with Bin 36 Cuvée Tulah. When Shully tells the story, you can see the passion for this wine in his eyes and hear true heartfelt sentiment in his voice.

The wine is named in honor of Shully's 2-year-old daughter, who was named after his mother, “I lost my mom when I was very young. My mom passed from breast cancer and her name was Tulah. I always wanted to name a wine after my mother, except she died before I could do that. Like my mother and daughter this wine is elegant and beautiful, yet bold. This resonates with my mom and daughter. At two, my daughter is already so opinionated. She speaks her mind.”

Photo Credit Angela Burke
The 100% roussanne spent three years in development. “We sampled many different blends, aged and fermented many ways,” says Shully. “Everything that they sent just didn't represent the women who I am naming this wine after.”

Shully and Cass finally decided on a 100 percent stainless steel-fermented and aged roussanne. They made about 100 cases of the 2014 vintage.

Cuvée Tulah is available both by the bottle and by the glass at Bin 36.

When asked if it's tough to sell wine made from a somewhat obscure grape, Shully responds, “People order sauvignon blanc from New Zealand or oaky California chardonnay because this is what they understand. My strategy to sell this wine is not to force it down anyone's throat, but to say, 'You ordered Sauvignon blanc, fantastic, but here taste this wine and tell me what you think.' And they often respond, 'Oh this is an unoaked chardonnay.' And then I tell them it's roussanne. Then the conversation starts from there.

The result of conversations like this is that Bin 36 sells far more Cuvée Tulah to go than it does in the restaurant. The wine sells for $15.55 and is also available online here.

If the sales rate of Cuvée Tulah continues, Shully expects the wine to be sold out by summer. He also plans on bottling a pinot noir and a syrah in the coming vintage.

Shully tells us, “Bin 36 has always been known as an education place. People can buy wine anywhere but here they can learn something and try something new.” And to hear the touching story about a wine with the house label.

Tasting Notes: 2014 Bin 36 Cuvée Tulah 100% Roussane. Star bright and slightly silver in color. Aromas of honeysuckle, wet slate, and salinity. Flavors of stone fruit, over ripe pear, mango and banana, with a touch of ginger on the medium long finish.