The Somm Set by Benchmark Wine Group

Andrea Robinson

Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!

This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Andrea Robinson, Master Sommelier. Join us as we explore everything from her passion for wine, favorite wine and food pairing, and her newest endeavors.

Sweet Home, California & More!
Love of Champagne & Bordeaux
Read Our Interview With Andrea Robinson
The Somm Set Home

This week from Andrea Robinson:

"An-DRAY-ah: don't think, drink." Such was the counsel I received many years ago from the late Alfredo Currado of Vietti winery in Barolo's Castiglione Falleto. I was dining with four generations of Currados at an outdoor table just off the kitchen—well, not exactly dining and hence his urging. With encouragement from my then-boss and now Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan, I had shown up on the Currados' doorstep, fresh off Wall Street but with a greater passion for viticulture and vinification than mergers and acquisitions.

They took me in, and as I was furiously scribbling in a notebook about the wines before me, Alfredo was letting me know there was a time and place for that, and it wasn't now. This was the time for la dolce vita a tavola—the good life, at the table. Ownership has since changed with the Vietti winery, but not quality, thanks to the continuation of Luca Currado and his wife Elena to steer the ship and keep the commitment. Wine lovers worldwide, including me, are so grateful for that, just as I remain grateful for Alfredo's lesson, time and again, from him and some of the world's other legendary vintners. I wish there were more Vietti wines in this offer – the sparse supply evidencing how much they over-deliver for the price.

On that same trip, the now-late Franco Biondi-Santi who like the Currados received me himself, was so convinced of my seriousness (again that frantic note-taking), that he invited me back the following weekend for a historic ricolmatura – recorking – of old bottles from the cellars of collectors and fine restaurants. They sent a driver for me--actually, Montalcino's only cop who parked his motorcycle for the day (no big crime waves in Montalcino at the time, phew!) and drove Signore Biondi-Santi's car to pick me up at my posh youth hostel digs in Florence. I spent the afternoon tasting with luminaries, mesmerized as Franco and his son Jacopo meticulously employed inert gases and peristaltic pumps to taste then top up from their own stocks, hundreds of rare and coveted bottles. Re-corkings are only appropriate for the world's truly longest-lived wines, and so you only see them for selected top Bordeaux, Penfolds Grange, and not much else.

Count Ugo Contini-Bonacossi of Capezzana in Carmignano also received me, with his daughter Beatrice who now runs the place and who I was fortunate to catch up with in Rome a few years ago—both of us all grown up. Her brother Vittorio took me to another historic event – a lecture for oenologists by the famed Giacomo Tacchis. I think I was the only girl in the room, but I was soaking it all up fresh off my Italian intensive immersion language course.

A decade later, I was a Master Sommelier and host of my own Fine Living Network TV show Simply Wine with Andrea (so many people ask me where to catch the reruns, but sadly, Scripps has not released them). Those were fun shows, and the episode at Frescobaldi was surely one of the coolest. Lamberto drove up to the Castello (one of many such family Castelli) in Rufina on his Ducati, and of course, we sat down with four generations and did what Italians do best – la dolce vita a tavola. 

At the end of a long lunch afternoon, the producer wanted one more shot of the whole family gathered in the golden late-day Tuscan light, waving and toasting the camera. Of course, the Frescobaldi's happily obliged, and that's when being an American rather than an honorary Italian came crashing back. No way the kids could have wine glasses in hand for this shot, the producer insisted—the American audience would freak out. Of course, the Frescobaldi's accommodated with a wry chuckle. A few years ago, seeing Lamberto, this time with my own kids in tow, brought back those great memories and reinforced the friendships and connections that a shared passion for wine brings to our lives.

Cheers to that! I hope you enjoy this offer.

Check out all the wines mentioned below!


Biondi Santi
Bodega Catena Zapata
5 In Stock
5 In Stock
View All Wines
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona
Jean Luc Colombo
3 In Stock
View All Wines

Benchmark Wine Group

445 Devlin Road
Napa, CA 94558

Phone: 707.255.3500
Fax: 707.255.3503
SMS: 707.200.4049


Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm
Shipping Questions?

Included in Wine Enthusiast's 50 Best Wine Retailers in America