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About this Episode

Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier, and Robert Tas explore the extensive wine list at the award-winning restaurant and raw bar Seastar. The wine program boasts more than 750 wines from around the world; fortunately, Whitney is here to help navigate the list and find the juice that suits your needs whether it’s choosing a wine to pair with oysters, nigiri, or sashimi, or a bottle that works with the Found, Foraged, Farmed menu such as the Fried Brussels Sprouts or Black Truffle Macaroni and Cheese.

Wines reviewed include:

  • Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
  • 2019 Boraso Garnacha “Tres Picos” Campo de Borja, Spain
  • 2019 Stoller Pinot Noir
Transcript: Seastar


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 Whitney Grant, wine educator and certified sommelier.

Hello Whitney, it’s great to have back on with CorkRules.

WG: Hi Robert! Thanks for having me! I’m excited to back with you and the CorkRules listeners.


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 intimating, 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.

RT: Today we are talking about Seastar. Chef John Howie’s restaurant and raw bar is known for its ever-changing seasonal menu featuring various culinary styles, offering signature dishes from the land and the sea. The wine program boasts more than 750 wines winning awards for The Best Wine List in America by Food and Wine Magazine and making the Wine Spectators Best of Award of Excellence for 15 years.  

Whitney I can’t wait to hear what you think of their extensive wine list.

WG: Extensive doesn’t begin to cover it! Robert we could do a whole Cork Rules Season on this wine list, but I can definitely give you some suggestions to make you feel a little less overwhelmed looking at this list.

Also, I want to remind listeners that a quality restaurant like Seastar which is so well known for its wine lists will like have trained staff and sommeliers available to help. Always remember Somms are here to help and we are always delighted to give you recommendations catering to your personal taste and budget.

With such a large list how about we start with wines by the glass?

RT: Sounds like a great place to start.

WG: The Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough New Zealand. This wine has concentrated tropical fruit aromas with nectarine and blossoms. Salinity gives this wine structure, with flavors of passionfruit and vibrant citrus acidity. Marlborough is the major center for wine in New Zealand and Sauvignon Blanc makes up majority of the production.

Lastly, for whites, I would recommend Megan Anne Chardonnay from the Willamette Valley in Oregon, my hometown. This wine is difficult to find but worth it with flavors of lemon zest, pear, and a lovely fruity minerality which I love in a wine.

RT: What would you recommend by the glass for our red wine drinkers?

WG: I would recommend the 2019 Boraso Garnacha ‘Tres Picos’ Campo de Borja, Spain. This wine is a beautiful cherry red color with concentrated ripe red fruit aromas and subtle floral notes. Rich on the palate with flavors or blackberry, plums, leather and vanilla with lovely silky tannin.

Lastly another Willamette Valley wine close to my heart, the 2019 Stoller Pinot Noir. I hosted my sister’s bridal shower at this beautiful winery, so I always enjoy reminiscing anytime I see these wines on a menu. This wine will be earthy, and brambly, with black cherry, fine tannins and red fruit through the finish.

RT: Wine is all about the experience and it is always fun enjoy a glass of wine that takes you back to a fun memory. Taking a look at the Buggles’ list can you explain the difference between multi-vintage, vintage, and grower/producer?

WG: Non-vintage or multi-vintage are common with sparkling wine and Champagne. Blending serves many purposes, many champagne houses aim to produce a particular style year to year. They achieve this by blending wines from different vineyards, grape varieties, and or vintages.

A vintage champagne means the wine must come from a single year, these wines are only made in the very best years and typically command higher prices.

Now the other distinction on the champagne page is the grower/producer category. Traditionally a Champagne brand or “house” would purchase grapes from producers across the region and create their own blend or Cuvee in that houses particular style. So, this grower/producer category are just that champagne grown and made into wine by the producer. This category has become extremely popular.

RT: Do you have a suggestion on which bottle of bubbles you’d like?

WG: I really enjoy Veuve Cliquot. It's classic, reasonably priced, approachable, and delicious. You can go wrong with old faithful Veuve!

RT: Taking a look at the next category, what would you suggest from the New World whites?

WG: One of my favorite white varietals is Viognier. It’s an aromatic wine but often has a rich creamy texture. I would recommend a bottle of the 2021 Mark Ryan Viognier from the Columbia Valley. Expect honeysuckle, some citrus, and melon with a lush creamy mouthfeel with a hint of vanilla and oak spice.

RT: How about an old-world white?

WG: I would recommend the Santiago Ruiz 2018 Albariño. Grown in the cooler NW corner of Spain, this is a delightfully refreshing white wine. This wine is a beautiful yellow color with a green tint. Expect a fruity nose of pear and citrus with some minty herbal notes and lovely minerality.

RT: Spanish Albariños are fantastic wines. Do you have recommendations for a new-world and old-world red wine?

WG:  The New World red I would highly recommend is the 2005 Foley Vineyards Claret. This is a left-bank Bordeaux style blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. This wine is a bit more expensive but this older vintage has aged perfectly, This wine has superb balanced with flavors of super concentrated ripe black cherries, leather, delicate tannins and lovely acidity that has allowed this wine to age so nicely. This is a very popular wine with investors and wine collectors and will certainly impress your guests.

For Old-World, I would recommend the 2016 Liedhom Barbera d’Asti from Piedmont, Italy. A quality region growing late ripening Barbera grapes. This wine is a beautiful deep garnet color, medium-bodied with aromas of red cherries and plum flavors with a slight hint of black pepper aged in oak barrels for 18 months.

RT: Ok so your night at Seastar is coming to a close and you’re looking to end the night with something sweet, is there a dessert wine you’d recommend?

WG: I would recommend one of the Tawny Ports there is a 20-year, 30-year, and 40-year Taylor Fladgate Tawny Ports on the menu.

RT: Can you break down the difference between those 3 options?

WG: Yes! First off Taylor Fladgate is one of the most highly respected producer of aged port, so really you can’t go wrong with any of these wines. To qualify the wine must be consistent with the characteristics of a typical wine that age. The age o the bottle is an average age rather than the youngest of the wine.

Tawny Port undergoes a long oxidative maturation in barrels with age, primary fruit flavors fade and become raisiny with falvors of walnuts, coffee, chocolate, and caramel and the color continues to darken with age. Lets take a look at the specifics for these 3 wines.

The 20-year tawny port is an amber tawny color, has a complex nose that is spicy, jammy, nutty wit hints of orange flower, rich concentrated flavors with a mellow finish.

The 30-year tawny port is a deep, old gold color, you can expect dried fruits and honey offsetting the rich nutty aromas, lush silky richness with layers of caramel and nuts with an endless finish.

The 40-year tawny port has an old olive gold hue from many years in casks. Decades of evaporation concentrate the density of the wine. Powerful aromas of dried fruit and honey with a touch of spice. Nutmeg, roasted coffee and an intense nuttiness. The long finish is rich, intense with a viscous texture.

A fun way to end the night would be to each order a glass and all share to compare these 3 different wines.

RT: Whitney Thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Seastar’s spectacular wine list. I can’t wait to go try some of these wines myself.

WG: Thanks for having me, Robert, this was an exciting list to review and I hope everyone enjoyed these selections!

RT: 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.

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

Thank you.




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