Q&A: Robert Morey

Best Case Wines, an importing and wholesaling company, was founded in 2011 by Robert Morey, with the goal of promoting wines which are characterized by:

  • a sense of graceful, harmonious balance

  • an expression of the place and culture from where they derive

  • value for the money

  • the experience of pleasure they offer to the drinker

The wines sold by Best Case Wines can be found around the state at a number of retail establishments and restaurants.  Iowa Decanted reached out to Mr. Morey in order to get his insights on wine and the industry.

Iowa Decanted: When you are choosing a wine to distribute, what are you looking for specifically?

Robert Morey: To me, wine enhances the enjoyment of meals in good company.  With that in mind I am looking for four things: balance, by which I mean that its component parts — fruit, acidity, alcohol, tannins — harmonize together; an expression of the place & culture of where the wine is grown; value for the money; and pleasure.  If a wine is not a pleasure, I don’t want to drink it.

ID: What is the mark of a fine wine?  What characteristics would you say they have?

RM: To be honest I’m not crazy about the term “fine wine.”  To me it sounds fussy.  There is more good wine today — and it can be had less expensively — than ever before in human history, due to the invention of stainless steel, modern sanitation, and temperature control.  Still, some wines are better than others.  Balance is key.  I don’t want a wine that is too jammy, or too alcoholic, or too tannic.  And also I like a wine with authentic personality, a wine that makes me realize that it is like none other, that it could be grown nowhere but in those particular vineyards.

ID: How would you suggest inexperienced wine consumers approach their education?

RM: The best, easiest, and most enjoyable way to learn more about wine is to drink more wine while paying attention.  Find a friendly wine shop staffer who can help guide you.  Have an open mind and a spirit of adventure.  If you want to be systematic about it, you could spend a while drinking different wines of the same region, or spend a while drinking different wines from the same grape variety.  That way you can learn, for instance, about what characterizes Chardonnay, while also learning the grape’s varying possibilities, too.  And I find that it is always more fun to drink in company, comparing notes with your companions.

ID: The wine industry in Iowa is very young compared to that of the Old World.  What suggestions can you make to growers and winemakers that you think will allow them to become more skilled and competitive?

RM: Most of the world’s most honored winegrowing regions have terrible, barren-looking soil.  That is what traditional wine grapevines like.  Here in Iowa, we have the richest soil in the world, and those grape varieties can’t overwinter here anyway.  So I think it is a mistake to try to make Iowa wines that imitate wines of the Old World, or even wines of the U.S. west coast or the Finger Lakes.  To me it makes more sense to work with grape varieties that thrive here, and work to develop a wine style and a wine culture that’s distinct to the American midwest.  The Iowa winegrowers I actually know, and the Universities too, are working hard to do that.  But the world’s other winegrowing regions have hundreds of years’ head-start.  Iowa’s winegrowing is in its infancy.

ID: Do you have a preferred wine or grape?  If so, what specific characteristics make it your favorite?

RM: Hard question.  I rarely drink sweet wines because they pair well with a much more limited range of foods.  You know that my heart is in France.  I love all kinds of bubbly wine, especially Champagne.  I love dry rosé wine, especially in the summer.  I love the Chardonnays of Burgundy, the Sauvignons of the Loire Valley, dry Riesling especially from Alsace, robust reds and aromatic whites of the Rhône Valley and southern France. . . .  There is a lot to love.