My Perfect Case | Robert Smith, Master Sommelier

June 18, 2018

I love wine. I love studying and learning about all aspects of it, and discovering new wine knowledge. Most of all, I love sharing what I discover with anyone who will listen. As a Master Sommelier, I have learned that many people share my love of wine, but can be somewhat cautious about asking questions for fear of being scoffed by professionals in the wine business.

My "perfect case" is diverse and includes varying styles, all of which I have tasted recently -- and will revisit again soon. My approach to wine is super simple -- it is just wine. It's meant to be enjoyed and fun. We should love learning what we enjoy sipping, and we should not be intimidated  to ask questions or try something new.

- Robert Smith, Master Sommelier

Purchase Robert Smith's Perfect case: Buy This Case

1. 2016 Firestone Vineyard Gewürztraminer, Santa Ynez Valley

I recently held a master class at Firestone Vineyard and poured this as part of a fascinating blind tasting with “midnight” wine glasses. It was the surprise hit of the crowd! Not being able to visually comprehend the wine, but to compensate all other sensory of aromatics and palate – powerful and delicate at the same time with intense floral and spiced fruits.

Imagine having a bottle with any spiced food -- not necessarily hot, but with intense flavors. It's definitely dry with enough fruit, with an intensity that plays perfectly to hold up to any tastes.


2. Chalone 2013 Estate Grenache

I love this wine with my Sommelier friends, and tend to add this into the mix with other Southern Rhône regions such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. It's ample aromas of cranberry, layers of dark plum and cracked white pepper lead to cassis and subtle touches of dried sage. 

Try it with: Braised Lamb Shank with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes & Caramelized Leeks
"Generous flavors and texture resonates with the wine to the deepness of the dish – from spice to fruit - WOW."


 3. Foley Estates 2015 Syrah, Sta. Rita Hills

I love Syrah, and we as consumers tend to forget how seductive these wines can draw us in. Every time I have this bottle, it just sends me back to France. It's wonderfully exotic and pretty; red fruit notes of pomegranate with touches of blue fruits, savory herbs and hints of olive, which is a very Mediterranean component. Refined and linear on the palate with embracing tobacco, fresh cracked white pepper, and cocoa.

Try it with: Pork Chile Verde with Avocado & Spinach Salad
"Amazing draw of herbs, spice & fruit; a gorgeous foil from the Earthy notes of the wine and the spice and the Earthier tones of the dish."

4. Kuleto 2013 Lone Acre Cabernet Sauvignon

I really enjoy this wine on its own; it's stunningly beautiful and brooding. Appetizing aromatics of smoked meat, dark brooding components of blue and black fruits, seamless mouthfeel of spice and bark berries.  - what a treat to have this with…

Try it with: Rosemary-Crusted Lamb Chops, Caramelized Root Vegetables, Chestnuts, & Thyme
"Brawny aromatics, seamless dark fruit and dried herbs lends a textural draw measuring my primitive senses…

Vineyards at Kuleto

5. Lincourt 2015 Sta. Rita Hills Zoula Nunn Chardonnay

The concentration with this! I enjoyed this with lunch in a beautiful restaurant in Healdsburg a few days ago and am excited to revisit. The wine is very pretty; loving the floral lime and honey blossom, with concentrated tropical undertones- soft, vanilla-cream mid-palate combined with Meyer lemon finish is amazing with…

Try it with: Pan-Sautéed Salmon Steak, Heirloom Butternut Squash Mousseline, Brown Butter
"A quintessential match that I adore; a true delight that emulates both the rich meat of the salmon and the fruit-brazen qualities of the Chardonnay with its endless concentrated fruit and persistent texture."


6. Roth 2015 Sonoma County Merlot

I was in Las Vegas visiting with friends who blind tasted me; I thought the wine’s origins were Pomerol! I was blown away by its complexity and elegant fruit. With deep blue and black fruits, purple floral tones with subtle smatterings of cedar, baking spice & cocoa - I am taken aback relishing alongside.

Try it with: Duck Confit with Kale and Sweet Potato Gratin
"Deep intense dark berry notes balanced with the earthiness of the dish through its brightened high-toned sweet fruit spice."

Purchase Robert Smith's Perfect case: Buy This Case

7. 2015 Foley Estate Bar Lazy S Chardonnay, Sta. Rita Hills

Another amazing Chardonnay from the esteemed Sta. Rita Hills, which is known for Chardonnays with cool influence that is laden with citrus and mineral complexity. Along with uplifted orchard fruit of Red Delicious Apple, Tahitian Vanilla and White Flowers arises vivid edges of lemon-curd bringing power, length, and density.

Try it with: Linguini with Dungeness Crab, Sauce Lemon-Thyme Beurre Blanc
"This is an ace combination. Notes of citrus aromatics, rich mouthfeel is mind-blowing and a classic with each of the recipe’s components."
Foley Estates Winery
Foley Estates Winery

8. Chalone 2015 Estate Pinot Noir

I recently enjoyed this with dinner recently with friends visiting from Las Vegas, and they were blown away from the focused fruit and could not identify if it was from Burgundy or Domestic. Expect pronounced red fruits of pomegranate and traces of cranberry, combined with subtle rose petals, sage bush, and dry tea leaves.

Try it with: Pan Roast Brined Chicken, Sorrel Salad, Shallot-Glazed Purple Dragon Carrots, Warm Brown-Butter Sage Vinaigrette
"Red fruits and savory undertones of the Pinot Noir generate a mind-blowing combination of concentration; intensity yet refinement."


9. 2014 Foley Johnson Meritage, Rutherford

Every time I taste the FJ Meritage with my friends, I'm completely astonished by the complexity, power and subtle elegance. It completely identifies with the personality of Rutherford. The fully concentrated aromas unlocks beautifully with dark berries, black fruits with touches of sagebrush and cedar; seamless mouthfeel of black cherry, cocoa and hints of tobacco.

Try it with: Grilled Snake River Farms American Wagyu Ribeye, Charred Cipollini Onions, Mascarpone Enriched Grits with Sauce Madeira
"Beefy aromatics, focused dark fruits, tobacco, and organic tones of sage and dried herbs imparts a brilliant foil."
Wine Barrels at Chalone
Foley Johnson Wine Barrels

10. Eos 2016 Santa Ynez Valley Grenache

I am always stunned with this deep, concentrated wine from Eos. The texture and length is not only mouthwatering, but deep with mineral and spice. High tune aromatics of currant, raspberry & dried herbs dominate; deep and vivid blackberry, pomegranate & vanilla with depth and elegance. 

Try it with: Pan Roasted Chicken, Okra Fricassee & Roasted Root Vegetables
"Smashing hit of intense bright fruits, capturing the smokiness of the Roasted Chicken and matching all herbal draws of the Root Vegetables."


11. Chalk Hill 2015 Viognier

Another variety from Rhône Valley that we find most notably in Condrieu, France, we find here at our estate at Chalk Hill. Small plantings and small production - just delicious! Intensely floral with hints of honeysuckle, jasmine, and super round mouthfeel adds heft and density with peach and apricot, toped with red delicious apple. Hints of lemon curd, quince adds balance to the rich depth of the mid-palate. 

Try it with: Seared Atlantic Salmon, Caramelized Onion Soubise, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sautéed Garden Kale
"Features of Earth tones of the wine play beautifully with the Earth tones of the dish. Rich fruits stand alongside the salmon which radiates of stone, orchard, and citrus fruits to balance."


12. Foley Johnson 2013 Rutherford Estate Petit Verdot

This wine is so COOL - I love it. I am always thinking of Cassoulet; if not this amazing classic French dish, try it with another classic of French cuisine. Deep & vivid darkens; brooding dark fruits of blackberry, black cherry and Mirabelle plum lifting with violet & cocoa, coating the palate with touches of pomegranate, blackberry & dried sage approaching with cocoa and vanilla. 

Try it with: Oven Roast Culotte de Boeuf, Whipped Yukon Potatoes, Slow Roasted Beets, Sauce Pan Peppercorn
"Amazingly intense, broad aspects screaming from Petit Verdot & all the appetizing notes of the Beef is such a mouthwatering combination of savory and fruit."


Purchase Robert Smith's Perfect case: Buy This Case


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