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Jun 26, 2017
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Posts Tagged ‘wine’

The Scoop: Zac Adcox moves from Blood & Sand to Reeds American Table

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

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In just a few months, Zac Adcox has made a name for himself in the St. Louis wine world, helming the wine program as general manager of Blood & Sand. Now, the 22-year-old member of Sauce Ones To Watch class of 2017 is embarking on a new adventure as a sommelier at Reeds American Table.

After staging at Reeds to enhance his knowledge base, Adcox was offered a permanent gig in March. “I just wanted to learn from Andrey (Ivanov) and Alisha (Blackwell), and this situation just kind of organically happened,” he said.

Currently, he works the floor at Reeds on weekends, and during the week, he assists Blood & Sand’s Juliette Dottle as she transitions to her new role as general manager and wine director. Once Dottle sits for her Level 1 certified sommelier exam in early June, Adcox will move to Reed’s full time.

He said he’s excited to be able to focus primarily on the wine side of the business and continue working with the staff there. “Alisha and Andrey have boosted my confidence,” he said. “They’ve empowered me and made me more passionate. I really love working with them.”

Photo by Carmen Troesser

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The Scoop: New owner discusses vision for Blood & Sand

 

 

Ones to Watch 2017: Zac Adcox of Blood & Sand

Sunday, January 1st, 2017

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Title: General Manager, Blood & Sand
Age: 22
Why watch him: He’s a barely legal oenophile.

 
How to take over

Be young. Be bored with your scenery. After high school, move from Phoenix to Baltimore to live with your dad and stepmom. At night, sit around the kitchen table drinking wine with them because you have no friends.

Get a busboy job at a French bistro. Try foie gras for the first time paired with a glass of Sauternes. Freak out. Study wine every free moment you have, even though you’re still just a busboy. Get promoted to server and sell more wine than anyone in the restaurant.

While other kids your age are begging older siblings to buy them cases of Natural Light, loiter in liquor stores until employees notice you taking photos of wine labels. Approach friends, strangers – whoever will listen – with the picture of the next vintage and varietal you need to try and say, “Please buy this for me.” Do this for a year.

Consider it a big life event when a liquor store salesman lets you buy something without showing ID. Buy a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Take your girl to New York City for a fancy dinner. Realize no one is going to sell you wine, then bury your face in the wine book for a half-hour until a sommelier finally approaches the table.

Travel to St. Louis for the first time to take your certified sommelier exam. Celebrate your passing with dinner at Blood & Sand. Love the restaurant so much that you ask owner TJ Vytlacil if you can work there. Find out he just sold the place. Be persistent.

A few weeks later, move to St. Louis to work at Blood & Sand even though you’ve only been there once in your life. In three weeks, sell more bottles of wine than Vytlacil sold in the previous six months. Take over the front of house; run the wine program; be unstoppable.

Turn 22.

Photo by Carmen Troesser

Drink This Weekend Edition: Noble Rot Wines at 33 Wine Bar

Friday, November 18th, 2016

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Nicknaming a fungus “noble” doesn’t really make it sound better, but some winemakers celebrate when Botrytis cinerea, or noble rot, appears on their grapes. 33 Wine Bar owner James Smallwood said wines made with noble rot are immediately recognizable thanks to their thick, sweet profiles. “They’re dessert wines – and it imparts a sort of honeyed flavor,” he said.

The origin of noble rot is as much legend as history. Nobody knows why the first winemaker decided to press apparently ruined grapes, but it’s clear why the tradition continues. The juice from these half-rotted grapes is so concentrated that oozes out when pressed, which makes for some seriously intense and sweet wines that don’t tasted rotten at all.

But intensity comes with a price. Introducing even a noble rot is a dangerous game. Too much sun and dry heat and the fungus won’t show up; too much moisture and it can turn from noble to full-on destructive gray rot pretty quick. The concentrated juice of successfully rotten grapes means less yield from vines.

“It’s a manually intensive process,” Smallwood said. “Rather than harvest in a day, they harvest over a few weeks to a month.” When one bunch of grapes is ready, another might need one more day on the vine, while others probably haven’t developed the noble rot at all yet.

So excuse the price tags on these unctuous dessert wines. One of the most famous, Smallwood said, costs more than $300 a bottle. Luckily, 33 Wine Bar carries the more approachable Chateau Doisy-Vedrines Sauternes, with half-bottles available for $32.

The pale golden wine has a rich honey aroma and a round, viscous sweetness balanced by acidity that keeps it from cloying. The only other noble rot wine available is the aptly named Noble One, an Australian Botrytis Semillon from De Bortoli. A deeper, burnished honey color, Noble One is both sweeter and sharper than the Sauternes.

 

More about wine in St. Louis 
• 11 Foolproof Wine Lists
• Conquer the Wine Lists
• Drink This Weekend Edition: Underrated Wines
• 3 wines for sauvignon blanc lovers

 

Heather Hughes is managing editor for print at Sauce Magazine. 

Guide to the Holidays 2016: Season’s Drinkings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

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Ready the corkscrew, polish the stemware and bring out the wine. Whether you’re looking to drop some coin or want a bottle that only tastes expensive, we’ve got you covered.

 

Impress for less
2014 Naveran Brut Cava
Cavas like this dry, fresh sparkler may be Spain’s best kept bubbly secret.
$15. The Vino Gallery, thevinogallery.com

2014 Talbott Logan Chardonnay
Bold, rich and tropical, this California chardonnay makes a statement without draining your pocketbook.
$25. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

2013 Descendientes de J. Palacios Petalos
Balancing acidity and fruity notes, this Spanish red is a full-bodied and refined addition to the table.
$25. Parker’s Table, parkerstable.com

 

Spare no expense
Jacquesson Cuvée Extra Brut 738
This dry Champagne is the perfect start to a decadent dinner.
$65. The Wine Merchant, winemerchantltd.com

2013 Bindi Quartz Chardonnay
Minerality comes through in this oak-aged vintage from Down Under.
$125. Reeds American Table, reedsamericantable.com

2012 Silverado Solo Cabernet Sauvignon
From Napa Valley heritage vines comes an intense, stone fruit sip with a long, rich, earthy finish.
$119. Balaban’s, balabanswine.com

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 wines for sauvignon blanc lovers

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

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Sauvignon blanc is the ultimate summer wine: crisp and grassy with melon and mineral notes and easy, bright drinkability. However, after months spent quaffing this lovely wine, it’s time to close out the season with something different. Here, three bottles perfect for sauvignon blanc lovers seeking something new:
1. The Easy Transition: Domaine Du Bagnol Cassis Blanc
This is a great French wine from the Provence region. It’s sophisticated and enjoyable with notes of pear, quince and minerals, and offers a clean freshness characteristic of sauvignon blancs. Enjoy on its own or pair with shellfish, sushi or salads.
$23. The Wine & Cheese Place in Clayton

2. The Change Up: Domaine Du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé
I know, I know, another summer rosé – but trust me on this. Bandols are the Teslas of rosés. This crisp, clean wine offers hints of melon, grass and perfect minerality, making it a perfect match for fans of sauvignon blanc. This beauty is perfect for sipping and pairs well with anything grilled.
$32. Veritas Gateway to Food & Wine in Ellisville

3. The Challenge: El Maestro Sierra Fino
This option might be a stretch, but still, a winery that’s been around since 1832 is surely worth a try. Fino sherry has an unmatched, almost saline minerality. For Sancerre fans (France’s most famous sauvignon blanc), a sip of this crisp, dry sherry is like turning up the volume on your favorite song. It’s best served fresh and cold with oysters, almonds or olives.
$15. Starrs in Richmond Heights

 

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as a sommelier at Reeds American Table. 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Underrated wines

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

 

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Pick up any wine magazine, and you’re bound to find wines ranked on a 100-point scale. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get below a certain score, and as with any subjective topic, the numbers are somewhat arbitrary – there is no standardized method for ranking. Some critics describe the process as 10 points for nose, 10 for color, 10 for palate, 10 for finish, 10 for overall impression and the remaining 50 simply for existing.

I find this degrading to vintners and winery teams. Most wines depend on weather, luck, timing, hard work and perseverance. They should be enjoyed as a moment in time, appreciating the product and its complement to your meal or your experience. I love a serious, complex bottle paired with an amazing meal, but I equally love an easy-drinking, quaffable wine on the patio with friends.

I taste quite a bit of wine, and I’m not sure I can tell you if any wine has a score able number for any ‘characteristic.’ Characteristics are subjective; a cloudy wine might upset you, but excite me. I’ve sold 100-point bottles to happy clients, and other underrated bottles that resulted in the same level of enjoyment. The only opinion that matters is the one belonging to the person who paid for it.

When hunting for an underrated bottle, look for wines made in a little known area where real estate is cheaper. It’s hard to find underrated wine from Napa Valley, California, but some Missouri wines or wines from lesser known regions of France’s Loire Valley are well worth the effort to find. Here are two such hidden gems:

1. Claverach Farm Pét-Nat sparkling rosé: Made by Claverach Farm’s Sam Hilmer, this wine is fizzy and wild with a beautiful nose of flowers and bright berries. It is dry and complex on the palate with refreshing bubbles.
$25, available at Starrs

2. Champalou Vouvray chenin blanc: This is a fine example of what the Loire Valley can do. Minerals, dry hay and apricot notes are followed by a hint of floral and matchstick. It is dry, rich and enjoyable on the palate.
$18, The Wine and Cheese Place

Sneak Peek: Scarlett’s Wine Bar in the Central West End

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

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The newest member of the Sasha’s Wine Bar family will open to the public today, Thursday, June 2, when Scarlett’s Wine Bar opens its doors for service at 4253 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End. Like any sibling, Scarlett’s has the same DNA as her sister locations, but is her own, distinct restaurant.

The large, front patio – a la Sasha’s on Shaw – has room for roughly 30 guests to wine and dine al fresco under large umbrellas, while the inside features ample seating and plans for a back patio are in the works. Owners Rachel Jones and Alan Richman sourced vintage, art deco light fixtures and early 20th-century bar rails from Prince Edward Island that serve as a wine glass rack above the white marble bar.

While the dark walls and polished stone table tops are signature Sasha’s, Scarlett’s Wine Bar’s food menu boasts wood-fired pizzas, an option unique among the sister locations. Along with Neapolitan-style pizzas, Scarlett’s offers hummus plates, cheese and charcuterie, burgers, crab cakes and a vegetarian lasagna.

There are a handful of cocktails on the menu, including the Bey’s Knees, a nod to Beyonce. The mostly bottled beer selection is a lineup of craft beer bar man Tim McAndrews chose as “the best representation of the style.” The draft selection adheres to the same philosophy and features The Civil Life Brewing Co.’s American Brown and Perennial Artisan Ales’ Hopfentea.

The wine is the focus at Scarlett’s, and upon opening will offer 20 reds and 20 whites by the glass and will eventually have up to 175 bottles available for purchase. Scarlett’s Wine Bar will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when you step inside:

 

 

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-photos by Michelle Volansky 

 

Extra Sauce: In case you missed it…

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

From our new issue and new online newsletter to a conversation with a malbec expert, here’s what went down last week in the St. Louis food scene, in case you missed it…

 

1. Our May issue hit stands this week, featuring the best new food trucks in St. Louis, a preview of summer drinking trends and reviews of Parigi, Sheesh and The Preston. Don’t wait; click here to read the entire issue online now!

2. Local restaurant enthusiasts hoping one of its own would take gold again this year were disappointed as a James Beard Foundation Award has eluded two St. Louis chefs, Kevin Nashan and Kevin Willmann.

 

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3. Laura Catena, owner-vintner of Luca Wines, will host a wine dinner at Annie Gunn’s on Monday, May 9, and she shared her thoughts on the growth of Argentine wine and the growing international market for malbec.

4. The latest build-your-own eatery has come to Chesterfield. Sym·Bowl, a rebranded second location of The HotPot in Kirkwood, opened on Wednesday, April 27.

5. Folks on the go in Clayton will have a new healthy option when Wicked Greenz opens. Co-owners Chris Sedlak, Matt Ratz and chef Justin Haifley are targeting a July open date for the flagship location at 16 N. Central Ave.

 

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5. Our Edible Weekend newsletter has a new look and the best food-filled events taking place each weekend in the St. Louis area. Don’t miss out! Sign up now to get the best food events delivered straight to your inbox each Wednesday.

6. Call it tenacity, determination or plain old stubbornness. After months of demo, construction and brewing, co-owners Chris and Tammy Rahn opened Stubborn German Brewing Co. in downtown Waterloo on Wednesday, April 27.

 

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: Luca Wine Dinner at Annie Gunn’s

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

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There aren’t many resumes as complete as Laura Catena’s. She’s a fourth-generation winemaker, holds degrees from Harvard and Stanford universities and has (literally) written the book on Argentine wine, Vino Argentino: An Insider’s Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina.

Catena, who will host her only U.S. wine dinner at Annie Gunn’s this Monday, May 9, is both owner-vintner of Luca Wines and managing director of her family’s Botega Catena Zapata vineyard. Here, she shares her thoughts on the growth of Argentine wine and the growing international market for malbec.

You have a family history in wine, but you pursued other careers before this one. Why did you return to the wine industry?
When I was deciding what to study, my vision was to do a profession that could help people. At that time I thought, “How can you possibly help people by making wine?” I’ve changed my mind (since then). This wine revolution has brought about great prosperity to Argentina and the region. It’s helped people have better schools and roads. I’ve gone full circle from wanting to leave the nest to making something as beautiful as wine and knowing it is an important contribution.

To what do you attribute the increased popularity of Argentine malbec?
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Argentina had this huge wave of immigration that multiplied the population by four or five times. Most immigrants were Spanish or from the Marche region in Italy. They were used to drinking European style, having wine with lunch and dinner.

My father, in the 1980s and 1990s, was a visiting scholar and saw what was going on in Napa, with people making wine as good as the French. He said, “I want to make great wine in Argentina that can compete with the best in the world.”

What is the most common misconception about Argentine wines?
For one thing, many people think that malbec just showed up. Not only is it an ancient grape, it’s the principle grape in Argentina. It’s not some kind of brand-new thing. We’ve been making since 1800s. The second thing is that malbec can be very diverse. It can be aged or blended and can taste totally different depending on where it comes from.

How do different malbecs taste?
If it’s from cool climate, it will taste more mineral with more violet-black fruit aroma. They’re more elegant than jammy (when grown in a) high, cool climate. Grown in warmer climates, malbec is syrupy with more ripe fruit aroma. They’re equally delicious but in a different way … but all malbec is aromatic and smooth.

How do you describe your Luca Wines?
I work really hard to make wines that have exuberance but are not too syrupy. I want it to be exuberant and elegant at the same time, and (I want it to) go well with a lot of different kinds of food. I’m not big on picking ideal food and wine pairings. You should go with drinking what you feel like drinking that day.

Where do you see the wine industry as a whole ,and specifically the Argentine wine industry, going in the next five to 10 years?
People will learn more about malbec and be able to taste from different regions. It’s like cheese. Once you get into cheese, you want to try different kinds of cheese. People will get into different regions of malbec. … If drinkers start asking for and buying these other varieties, places will carry them.

 

 

 

 

Drink This Weekend Edition: 3 roses to transition to spring

Friday, April 15th, 2016

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Gorgeous weather, the return of baseball and the annual transition from heavy winter reds to light, bright roses are all signs of spring in St. Louis. Here’s why you should think – and drink – pink this spring and summer.

Simply put, rose wines incorporate some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify as red wine. These wines are made three different ways. Some are made like red wine, where the juice remains in contact with the skins to extract some color and flavor. Others are made using the saignée, or bleeding, method requires syphoning off juice intended for red wine before it extracts too much color and fermenting it. Finally, winemakers can simply blend red and white wines to produce the desired color and taste.

Roses color and flavor vary greatly is fun realm of wine to explore. Most roses are dry, but they show bright fruit flavor, and the best have an intensity and balanced acidity as well. Look for bottles from Cotes De Provence, Corsica, Tuscany, Spain and of course, California and Oregon. Here, my top three rose picks for this weekend:

 

1. 2015 Chateau Thivin Beaujolais Villages rose is a great bottle made from Gamay grapes that produce bright, crisp wine with flavors of strawberry, flowers and minerals. This is a very pretty, enjoyable wine perfect for an afternoon of outdoor events.
$20. Available at Cork & Rind

2. Biodynamically farmed grapes with very little skin contact give Red Car Rose of Pinot Noir a light shade of pink. This is wine with finesse, featuring pink grapefruit and cherry notes and bright acidity. Fish dishes are perfect for this delicate sipper.
$19. Available at The Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton

3. There are “unicorns” in the wine world. The wines by Frank Cornelissen are such rare beauties – difficult to find, yet well worth the quest. Naturally made in Sicily on the slopes of Mount Etna, this intense wine exhibits a distinct sense of place. It is best served decanted, as it is truly unfiltered. The newest vintage will be released mid-summer; keep an eye out for one of the most interesting roses available.

Ben Wood has more than 10 years experience in the wine industry. He currently works as shop manager of Cork & Rind.

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