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About this Episode

This episode of CorkRules with Sommelier Maria Valetta explores the wine list of Smith and Wollensky on the upper east side of New York City. Wines under the spotlight include a 2020 Louis Jadot Macon Village, the PAX 2019 Gamay, the 2018 Aperture Cabernet from Sonoma showcased on their Captain’s Pocket List Page or the 2018 Hourglass blueline estate cabernet from Napa Valley. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2017 Tenuta Pietramora from Tuscany
  • 2018 Nerello Mascalese, from Le Sabbie dell’Etna
  • 2019 Bodegas Escorihuela Gascon “1884”.
Transcript: Smith & Wollensky

RT: Hello and welcome back to CorkRules! The wine podcast that’s here to help you navigate all of your favorite restaurant wine lists! I’m, Robert Tas

MV: And I’m Maria Valetta, and today we have another great wine list to review for you

RT: That’s right Maria, we are talking Smith and Wollensky a NY institution. They have been on the upper east side since 1977. It personifies New York dining at its best.  It’s known for serving prime cuts of meat and for its impeccable service. Some say it’s the best steakhouse in Manhattan. This is the place where I, as a young pup, had my first business dinner, and it has been one of my favorites ever since. Maria, what do you think of their list?

MV: Well, this one is certainly on the heftier side – with 14 pages of wines to discover!

RT: As am I. LOL

MV: What really stands out to me with this one is the number of verticals they have.

RT: Maria, can you tell folks what is a vertical

MV: Great idea, So when it comes to “wine speak’ a vertical refers to the same type of wine from the same exact winery BUT the difference on showcase here is vintage ( in other words, the year the wine was harvested), so you’ll see here on Smith and Wollensky’s list that you have a lot of wines on offer that look similar but the year (or what we call vintage) is different.

RT: So, Maria, please explain why verticals are a big deal …

MV: Great question, Robert, So the better question I think is…  what’s the fun part about verticals!? This is exactly the kind of place where someone who appreciates wine from a specific winery can have a lot of fun… because every harvest year the weather is different and that directly translates into the bottle, so having this incredible selection of vintages gives you the option to order 2 or 3 or 6 bottles and taste the difference between each one from one year to the next... It’s really fascinating and it's not just for the experts, even those who have newbie wine palates can easily be guided to taste the differences in each bottle. Some years have more fruit and some for earth for example.

RT: I love it. I’ve been fortunate to do a number of those types of dinners with my wine crew. Always amazing.  It’s rare for restaurants to have this kind of range.

MV: My advice, host a group event and order the 2013, 14, and 15 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon, have them decant them and arrange 3 glasses and watch as your guests begin to discover the subtle but noticeable differences in each glass!

MV: Yup, it’s a major differentiator for S&W 

RT:  Alright Maria, let’s talk about wines by the glass...

MV: yes, thanks for reeling me back in to our starting point Robert…I’m drawn to the 2020 Louis Jadot Macon Village … It’s a white burgundy (Here’s a tip white Burgundy means Chardonnay) from a well-known wine producer with a great reputation and this has just enough body and zip to pair well with their lobster or crab cocktail

RT: So what about value wines… can you find a gem for us here?

MV: definitely a little more difficult here because the wines are on the pricier side, but take a look at this section called The Outliers..

RT: oh yes is see it labeled as “the wines that just don’t fit in”

MV: EXAAAAACTLY a little experimentation calls for a little discount… haha! But this selection is great! 7 different wines, most around $100 and under! Yeah!! You just have to be open-minded… I mean sign me up for the PAX 2019 Gamay… This is a great producer with vineyard-driven wines so I am totally willing to see what they do with the GAMAY grape!

RT: Sounds Like a winner to me! (or your own comment then throw…):

And then what about that top-level wine but say under:

MV: well that’s what those verticals we talked about are for… right? ..but

I would also really love to see my date impress me with the 2018 Aperture Cabernet from Sonoma showcased on their Captain’s Pocket List Page or the 2018 Hourglass blueline estate cabernet from Napa Valley. I like a bold big California wine with my Steak dinner. And aperture is an up-and-coming producer to keep an eye on and Hourglass wines are a collectable favorite… they use a little of the petite Verdot grape in this cab and it makes it really luscious.

RT. You know I love those bold wines. Can’t wait to try.

MV: Perfect pairing.

RT: Maria TY so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate S & W’s Wine list. Next time you dine at Smith & Wollensky, be sure to tell them, you found them on CorkRules

Thank you everyone for joining us, Remember the only rule in wine is “drink what you LOVE”.

MV: Have a favorite wine List? Let us review it here on CorkRules. Send us your requests at info@corkrules.com and remember to check out all of our episodes on Corkrules.com.



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