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About this Episode

In this episode, sommelier Grace Hood explores the wine list of the french restaurant Benoit, located on 60 west 55th street. This is where the Paris bistro meets New York, the french cuisine and convivial atmosphere are enhanced by a stellar wine list that hosts a selection of wines from both Old Europe and the New World. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • Brocard Shibli Burgundy
  • Roserock Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley of Oregon
  • Volnay Premier Grand Cru from Burgundy


Transcript: Benoit


RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where (in each episode) we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grace Hood, Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier. Hello Grace, it’s great to have you!

GH: Hi Robert! Happy to be back!

RT Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules.

We created CorkRules to demystify wine list’s because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list.

So, Grace - we’re keeping with our French theme I see, but now we’re heading from New Orleans to Europe!

GH: Hahaha totally - Excited to chat about the Benoit NYC wine list.

RT: Awesome - so what are your initial thoughts?

GH: Well, this list has a very thought-out approach - it’s all French and American wine! It’s always interesting to see what the wine director will choose for their establishments based on cuisine and clientele. And I am always a-ok with a wine list that is heavy on French selections b/c I personally adore French wine. France has been making wine for literally thousands of years and is arguably the most agreeable terroir in the world for the classic varietals. Wine is just a way of life in France! A lot of times it costs less than water!

RT: Au oui oui!! So where do we start when it comes to this list?

GH: So, we could go in a lot of different directions! It depends on what people feel like drinking. I think it might be fun to look at some French varietals and see what their American counterpart is on the list. For instance, we could choose the Brocard Chablis from Burgundy and put it against the RoseRock Chardonnay from Willamette Valley in Oregon. Chablis is arguably the crispiest most mineral-driven Chardonnay from Burgundy, which produces the most famous and high-end chardonnays in the world. But you might be asking “grace why didn’t you recommend a California Chardonnay b/c they’re super famous for that” - I picked an Oregon chardonnay b/c unlike in CA where they age their chardonnays in American oak, OR Chardonnay are usually aged in French oak. And the big difference between the two is going to come in the richness, the depth and the characteristics that come from both styles of oak. American oak traditionally has a way more oaky, caramel, almost creamy-like quality, which is why you end up with those big buttery chardonnays out of Napa – it’s not the grape, it’s the oak! Meanwhile, in OR, they’re aging their Chardonnay in French oak which imparts more subtle, slightly nutty flavors into the wine.

RT: Wow amazing! It's incredible all the things that go into the end result of a wine. What would you think for an American vs a French red?

GH: You got it. A fun side-by-side comparison would be a French pinot and an American Pinot. And the ones I’m going to pull out this time are the Kosta Browne Russian River Pinot from Sonoma, as well as the VOLNAY Premier Cru Dom. De Montille. The reason I picked the Russian River pinot rather any other American appellation, is b/c the Russian River in Sonoma is one of the coolest, dampest areas in CA, and thats important b/c pinot noir is a very thin-skinned grape, and thrives in those cloudy less hot areas. And on top of the prime climate, Russian River produces a ton of Burgundian clones of pinot - which essentially means rootstock that was originally grown in France, and was brought to Sonoma and planted in the Russian River. So you’re going to have that same style of grape in both wines. I chose the Volnay over other Burgundies b/c Volnay is one of the most delicate and light French pinots, as opposed to the more weighty earthy styles like Gevrey Chambertin.

RT: Wow that's so cool - clones! Now Grace, sometimes people have a budget in mind..  any great value wines you’d point us to? 

GH: Absolutely. So, in the whites, I would def go with one of my all-time favorite white wines - Sancerre, which is sauvignon blanc grown in the Loire valley of France. Drinking this wine is like putting your face in a bouquet of fresh flowers. It’s heavenly. On the Benoit list I would go with the Petit Bateau Sancerre. On the value reds side, I would go with the Papillo CROZES-HERMITAGE, which is going to be a delicious Syrah from the northern Rhone. Syrah is grown all over the Rhone valley, but Syrahs from the northern rhone tend to be inkier, velvetier and sexier than their southern counterpart which is going to be more gravelly and earthy and spicy. Robert can I order these wines right now?? They’re two of my favorite haha!

RT: hahaha coming right up Grace! Now, what if I have a big client dinner or special occasion where I want to take it up a notch?

GH: Oh man, well we have so many amazing options to pick from on this list. On the white side, we’re going grand cru burgundy which is arguably going to be one of the most high-end chardonnays in the world. I’m gonna pull the trigger and go with the 2004 MONTRACHET From Colin-Morey. This is going to be a very unique white wine experience b/c chardonnay is notoriously one of the only types of white wine that ages well. Drinking older burgundies is like a right of passage if you’re a wine nerd. And then on the red side, we gotta go with the classic - 2003 POMEROL From Chateau Petrus, which is one of the most high-end and famous Bordeaux in the world. I was lucky enough to taste some Petrus over the winter and wow - you just totally understand why this wine is a cult classic!

  RT: Grace, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Benoit.

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.  If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@corkrules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. Follow us on social media @corkrules and @wineswithgrace

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.



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