Sunday, January 27, 2013

The St. Louis Food & Wine Experience

By Davina Horton

We haven’t been to the Food and Wine Experience in 4 years, so we were overjoyed to make it this year. Michael surprised me with VIP tickets for my birthday.

This event happens annually at The Chase Park Plaza and benefits the St. Louis Repertory Theater. It features hundreds of wines and an ample amount of food samples. We made a point to allow some extra time at each Missouri winery we came across.

Once we arrived we headed straight to a familiar wine, Augusta Winery & Montelle which we never knew were owned by the same family. We had the pleasure of sampling from Cindy Kooyumjian, one of the owners. She was a delight, She explained to us that Augusta Winery is more old-world style of wine-making while Montelle is more new-world. We did a side by side taste comparison of each of their Nortons. Montelle wins more Missouri contests, but Augusta wins more International contests.

The second stop was Cave Winery. We were lucky enough to stumble upon this winery last fall while traveling down the Route de Vin Wine Trail in Ste. Genevieve, MO. This winery is best known for having an actual cave on site that you can relax and drink you wine in; however, their wines are spectacular and have a lot to offer. They were sampling 4 wines, one of which they don’t serve at their winery. The Dry Chardonel was new for them, but one of our favorite of the whole day. It had a slight hint of sweet with a dry, clean finish unlike any Chardonel we had had before. The Cave Rock Red and White were both easy drinking wines that would pair well with lots of dishes. We stuck with our New Year’s resolution and tried their Norton which was earthy and pungent. We had a fabulous time chatting with the winemaker and look forward to going back to Cave Winery to enjoy a bottle on a hot summer day in their chilled cave.

While navigating the sea of wineries, we came across another familiar place, Chaumette Winery. There we sampled from Jennifer Johnson, certified Sommelier and were introduced to the owner of the winery himself, Hank Johnson.  We tried his favorite, the Chamburcin.  Luckily we already know we will be back to visit this winery in Septemeber when our friends Michelle and Shane get married, but I’m sure we’ll make it back before then.

One of my personal all-time favorite wineries was one-site, Les Bourgeois. If you ask me to compose a list of my top 10 favorite wines, 2 of theirs would make the list, their Brut and Pink Fox. I sampled their Solay which is always one of my favorites visiting their winery on a hot day while gazing out over the Missouri River.  Michael sampled the Vignoles, more sweet (almost syrupy) than desired when it comes to Vignoles.

St. James brought their wine brigade to be sampled. We tried a couple of their fruit wines, which seems to be their primary focus in the wine business.  Though we have experienced decent Vignoles and Sparkling wines as well from them, they unfortunately did not bring any of these.
We visited Stone Hill more than once because there always seemed to be a wait to try all their variety of reds.  Their “Hermannsberger Brand” was underwhelming, but it was being pushed the hardest.  The Norton was comparable to that of Cave Winery’s.  While we stood there sampling a couple was questioning whether or not they should try something and the wife said she only wanted something sweet.  Needless to say they probably bought a case of the Goldenrhine thanks to us (it’s one of our personal favorites from Stone Hill).

Of course we didn't only try Missouri wines. We tried them ALL and ate some delicious food. We made sure to try the most expensive bottle of wine at the exhibit (2008 Episode: Cabernet Savignon - $836 a case of 12, about $70 a bottle at a discounted price) It was…ok.  The real truth of the whole experience though was that despite being able to try as many different wines as we could want we kept finding our way back to Missouri wines.  Home sweet home or is it simply the realization/truth that Missouri makes damn good wine?

We had a fantastic time. We would like to mention a few noteworthy wines we sampled: 2008 Four Wines: Zinfandel, 2008 Silverado: Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009 Loring Wine Company: Pinot Noir, 2011 Oveja Negra: Cabernet Franc, Carmenère Reserva. 

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