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About this Episode

Host Robert Tas and certified sommelier and wine educator Grant Wood navigate the wine list of Sparks Steakhouse, a restaurant with a stellar reputation for aged beef,  a variety of seafood, and, of course, a selection of fine wine. Grant shares his expertise on wines from the Napa region as he reviews a range of wines from the traditional go-to cabs and chards to the hard-to-find aged wines from super high-quality, small producers. Grant also what to try when ordering the “cab and slab”. He also recommends a few old-world wines, Australian wines, and special bottles in the higher price range. 

Wines reviewed include:

  • 2013 Hanzell Chardonnay from Sonoma’s Moon Mountain
  • 2008 Williams-Selyem Allen Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 1999 Vega Sicilia Unico from Ribera del Duero
Transcript: Sparks Steakhouse


RT: Hello and welcome back to another episode with CorkRules! 

A podcast where we review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Grant Wood, wine educator and certified sommelier. Hello Grant, it’s great to have you join our CorkRules family!

GW: Hey Robert, I’m so happy to be here with you.

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.

Sparks is a classic NY steak house with a ton of history serving up succulent cuts on top tier meats. They were even mentioned in one of my favorite books on hospitality from one of my idols, Danny Meyer so I’m looking forward to diving into this list with you.

Let’s great straight into it because this is a steak house with a long list of classic Cabernet, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and more.

For whites, you’re pretty well covered if you’re a fan of Cali Chardonnay. My eyes immediately were drawn to the 2013 Hanzell Chardonnay from Sonoma’s Moon Mountain. I’ve been to the vineyard and not only do they have great history in Sonoma, they’re by far some of the best farmers in the state and leading the way in regenerative farming practices. This wine with a little age is just perfect to me and tasting amazing right now. Another great Cali classic is Ojei’s Bien Necido 2005 Chardonnay from Santa Maria. I too have been to this vineyard just earlier this year and it’s truly a special place. You can’t go wrong with the 2008 Williams-Selyem Allen Vineyard Char either.

Now it’s time for a cab and a slab! Me being the Napa Valley-based resident Somm here, please let me tell you which wines you should reach for on this list. Skip past Silver Oak, Jordan, Caymus, Far Niente, etc. for a moment because, though, they are classics and there is nothing wrong with them, you can get them anywhere. Here’s who I have great respect for and will take your dining experience to another level.

2014 Cain Five Napa Valley CS. Beautiful, sadly damaged by fire in 2020, worth it!

2012 Continuum Proprietary CS. Tim Mondavi at his best.

2012 Delle Valle, just down the hill from Continuum, Maya, you’re crushing it.

2014 Spottswoode, a real St. Helena classic

2011 Staglin, Rutherford. Cool, underrated year, ageing beautifully.

Let’s take a trip to Bordeaux.

2006 Ch. Pavie, Right bank Grand Cru Classe A powerhouse.

2004 Haut-Brion, head turner to impress your date or clients

2005 Ch. Petrus, when money is no object

2005 Ch. Cos d’Estournel, because I’ve been there, and you should go there too!

Other honorable mentions:

1999 Vega Sicilia Unico from Ribera del Duero is a classic.

2009 Penfolds grange, obviously.

2013 Vieux Télégraphe CDP, for the Rhone heads out there.

And the list goes on. This is a list built around the classics so why not lean into it and let your carnivorous indulgence take the wheel?

Grant, great job today!  Thank you for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Spark’s Steakhouse wine list. I can’t wait to go and try your suggestions myself.

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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