Wednesday, June 30, 2010

100 point wine, Sanctuaria

Yesterday afternoon and leading into last night were really a lot of fun. at about 5:30, I dropped by Sanctuaria for my first time there. This is one of those restaurants that I sort of made fun of when it opened- I thought the logo was goofy, and that the whole tapas thing had really jumped the shark. Certainly, there was no way they could make it in the Grove. Then I started hearing all the local cocktail geeks talk about how good the drinks were there. In the name of honest investigative reporting, I dropped by. The food was great, and the cocktails were even better. Dare I say- I really like this place, and will be taking Mrs Sippinstl there sometime soon! Go check it out!

I then moved on to the "main event". Our wine group got together for the final leg of the "Tony and Janet Farewell Tour" that has been happening all week- we all took over 33 wine bar, along with about a dozen tortas from La Vallesana, and 4 amazing bottles of wine- included in which were 05, 06, and 07 Deus Ex Machina from Clos St. Jean in Chateauneuf Du Pape. The 05 was literally in the top 5 wines I have ever tasted in my life. It had so many layers of ripe red fruits, leather, tobacco, soy, meat, and about a dozen other flavors. The finish on that bad boy literally lasted over a minute! This, my friends, is what a 100 point wine is supposed to taste like!

So, we look forward to seeing our friends in the future in Houston when we visit the in-laws. For now, I need to get back to "Words With Friends", where my wife is stomping me.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Saucy Soiree

Last night, Mrs Sippinstl and I headed down to the Four Seasons for the annual "Saucy Soiree" held by Sauce Magazine. This is the event where they give a pre-release view of their "reader's choice" issue. Many of the local restaurants and breweries/wineries had tables set up where you could sample to your heart's desire. Then, everyone moved to the roof deck patio/pool area of Cielo to listen to music, and drink free beer. It was a fun event- lots of old industry friends and some new acquaintances were there. In all honesty, I was going to leak the "list", but I grabbed the wrong issue of Sauce when I headed out the door to my Global Headquarters.

As far as things are progressing at Epiphany, we're simply waiting to get labels registered. As soon as I can place orders, I will get wine into your hot little hands.

Until then, enjoy this summer weather reprieve, and drink something delicious.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Delicious, but doesn't age well

Last night, some of us wine geeks got together to go through a vertical of Elderton Command Shiraz from Australia. We opened 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2005. I must say that I love these wines, and have enjoyed all of these vintages in the past. However, the general consensus last night was that they simply don't hold up over time. The 2000, which was a Spectator 97-point wine was either slightly flawed, or way past its prime. The best of the lot was the 2001, and the 2005 was drinking pretty nicely. However, I would be reluctant to buy anything older than 05 based on the tasting.

Other wines that we opened were the 04 Mitolo GAM (didn't show well), the 06 GAM (pretty nice little wine) some Two Hands Sophie's Syrah (really nice!), and a really interesting wine- Rudi Schultz Syrah from South Africa- Definitely the most surprising-in-a-positive-way wine.

In all, it was a fantastic evening with the guys- lots of good wine, grilled meat, and no veggies.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Saying goodbye to a friend, first news release

Last night, some of "the guys" got together to toast our dear friend Tony, who is leaving town. Tony is a doctor, and he found a great job opportunity in Houston, so he and his wonderful bride are leaving next week. He will truly be missed, as he is instrumental in keeping our "Saint Louis Wine Therapy" group going. We toasted him with cocktails at Taste, then some nice wines at 33- '07 Papillon, '08 Beau Freres Pinot, Elderton Ashmead Cab. So, Tony, this is for you:

Ah, takes me right back to Sophomore year.

In other (literal) news, check out the press release published on

That's all for today. Have a great weekend!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

A new grape

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do something that I rarely get to do- Try a wine made from a varietal that is completely new to me. The wine that was tried was the 2009 Zestos Blanco, from Madrid, Spain. It is made from the varietal Malvar. Maybe I'm behind the times and all the kids are clamoring for Malvar, but I don't think so. I looked it up in Wine Lover's Companion and Sotheby's- nothing. The Oxford Companion to Wine had two sentences about it. There's not even a Wiki page about it. I mean, there's a Wiki page about EVERYTHING, but alas- no Malvar.

So, that being said, check this wine out when it comes into the market in the next month or so. Tasting it, I would compare it in weight to an unoaked chardonnay, and in aromatics to viognier. It was slightly crisp, had some acidity without being searing, but also had some nice viscosity to it. I would drink it with most spring and summer-types salads and white fish. It would also be interesting to try it with avocados.

That's all for now, off to pay bills and try some more interesting stuff to bring into Missouri to ensure that your glass is never empty!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The place where cliches abound, and the children are scared

It all started out so innocently. A friend of mine sent out an email to a group of guys that get together and hang out on a regular basis. He wanted to organize a night where we all go grab a bite to eat and then watch the new A Team movie. However, this friend is a vegetarian, and the rest of us aren't. His suggestion was that we meet at Red Robin, grab a burger (or in his case a veggie burger) and then proceed to the movie theater. "Well, okay" I thought. This couldn't be too bad. I had never set foot in a Red Robin before- all I knew about it was that it is my 7 year old niece's favorite restaurant. I assumed that it would be kind of like Applebee's or Chili's or something of that nature.
Let me step to the side for a minute here, and discuss chain restaurants. I have no problem with the existence of chains. I understand their place in the American food industry- it's where millions of people go to get adequately prepared food at a nominal price. Heck, I started my illustrious food and wine career at a TGIFridays, followed by Houlihan's. (If you are a parent of a teenager reading this, don't let your kid work at one of these places- I guarantee they will be exposed to drinking, drugs, and sex within about their first 30 minutes of their first day of work). However, I very rarely eat at a chain. My wife and I have decided that, if we have a certain amount of money to spend on eating out, we would much rather support locally-owned, independent businesses than chains. Plus, I think the food at these places is often wildly unhealthy, and mediocre in quality. Stepping down from soap box now.
So, we decided to meet at Red Robin. The first thing I noticed was the gaggle of unhealthy looking folks crowded around the door. Surely there can't be a wait at 6 pm on a Tuesday! Nope, just folks smoking outside. The hostess (who looked like she was no more than 14) was cheerful, but looked confused when I said I would wait at the bar for my friends. The bartender gave me a "What's up man, get you something to drink?" and threw a menu in front of me. He then walked away- nice close on the sale, bro. I looked at the drink menu- plenty of snazzily named fruity drinks, and milkshakes and stuff. Nothing I would partake in though. Their vodka choices were pretty pitiful- Absolute, Absolute Citroen, and Smirnoff. Wine- yeah, right.
About that time, the rest of the group showed up, and we took our table. Let me say right now that our service was excellent. The waitress was spot on in all of her points of service, and didn't roll her eyes about split checks.
This is where some of the funny stuff came into the scene. She was going around the table, taking orders, and one of the guys ordered the "Burnin' Love Burger". She then proceeded to ask "Do you want some pink, or no pink?" He replied with "as much pink as I can get". She didn't get the euphemism, but a table full of 30-something guys giggled. Evidently, this is their method of asking how rare to cook the burger. User friendly, I guess, but very corporate sounding.
The other amazing part of Red Robin is the atmosphere- oldies playing loudly, lots of neon, red, and yellow, and "vintage" movie posters on the wall. I don't know which was more fun to watch- the 5'6" Robin walking around, scaring the hell out of little kids (By the way, why does he wear a vest, but no pants? Creepy), the group of high school cheerleaders, one of which had a baby with her, or the couple that the woman had really short denim cutoffs to reveal the tatoos of sparrows and hearts running down her leg.
The food was okay- the other guys got burgers (one of which weighed in at over 1400 calories, 97 grams of fat, and 5600 mg of sodium), I got a caesar salad with a piece of salmon that had been beaten to death, frozen, then over cooked.
In retrospect, I can see why families go to this place- it is a physical definition of the word "cacophony" with plenty of distractions, noises, colors, balloons, and birthday songs. I just won't be going back anytime soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A correction, What do you want to see in the state?

A friend in the industry shot me a text today- I made a mistake in my wine listings from Saturday. We actually drank the Four Vines "Heretic" Petite Syrah that night. Oops.

Another thing that I would like my friends and trusted industry folk to weigh in on- Is there a certain wine or boutique spirit you would like to see in the market here in Missouri that isn't currently sold here? I have a "hit list" of sorts that I'm going after, and I want to know what you want to drink. If you think of anything, shoot me an email at

Thanks, and Cheers

Tonight- we hit the new A-Team movie. Word.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fantastic weekend of wines, the beat carries on

My father claims that, whenever they have come to visit, I have never chosen a bad place to eat. The running joke is that every time they come into town, my dad claims that he has the "best thing he's ever eaten". This last weekend, my streak remained intact. Friday night, we just grilled humongous steaks at the house, and paired them with some decent wines- Domaine St Vincent bubbly, Pietra Santa Chardonnay, Sacred Stone "Cask #5", and 2004 Palladino Barolo. Not a bad line up, nor a bad way to start the weekend. My mom has a rather funny picture of my dad and I having our first Board Meeting in the office- we sat around and drank bubbly.

Saturday night pushed the line of being "epic" as described in posts past. We started at Taste by Niche, where I had some sort of Rye cocktail, and everyone else had something different. We split up some small plates, and as usual- no dogs in the bunch. I was particularly impressed with the Bruschetta with mushrooms, truffle oil, and ricotta. The journey continued onward to Ernesto's, the new joint in Benton Park. The girls had white sangria, and dad and I sucked back glasses of Decero Malbec- killer stuff. The standout nibble there was their self-proclaimed "World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich" with truffle fontina and mushrooms. I have a hard time disagreeing. This is where the night got borderline ugly. We rolled into Sidney St Cafe with the intention of getting a glass of wine, and a couple of apps. Two bottles of wine, and four courses later, we left- In pain. My wife had a beet risotto that was stunning, and my mom's rabbit was the best I have ever had. The wine selections of the night were Pine Ridge Merlot and Two Vines "Heretic" Syrah. Both really fun examples of their respective grapes. The plans of the night originally included a trip by either 33 wine bar, or Atomic Cowboy. Due to our state of stuffedness, we didn't make either destination (Sorry Jeff and Jim). As you can see, it was a fantastic night that I'm still partially trying to wake up from the resulting food coma.

Here at the Global Headquarters of Epiphany Wines, LLC, I'm just trying to get wineries lined up. I was on the phone today with a couple of cool projects from Paso Robles, and as soon as I get confirmation that they want to play ball, I will release names.

That's it- it's freaking hot outside. Drink Rose, and enjoy your evening.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sign of the Times

Things here at the Epiphany Wines World Headquarters are progressing- albeit some things very slowly. We got the sign mounted on the front of the building, and I'm pleased at the way it turned out. It isn't the same font as our other marketing materials, but I still think it looks sharp.

On the legal side of everything, I learned today that it will be a minimum of 2-3 weeks before the wineries can get their wines registered with the state. Sure, this is a bummer, because I want to get some wine in here, and start selling it, but that's the way it goes. "Patience, grasshopper" seems to be my motto lately.

In other news, I met with a PR lady today, and went over my media launch for all things Epiphany. Surprisingly, I've already been doing the stuff that I needed to. I could probably use more exposure to the blog, but that's up to you all, not me. Hint, hint.

Wine-wise, I'll be tasting a few things with the wine writer for a coming-soon-to-STL food and wine rag tomorrow. We will look at the Sacred Stone (blend of Merlot, Sangiovese, Carignane, and Dolcetto) as well as the Chardonnay from Pietra Santa Winery in Hollister, CA. We will also look at Domaine St. Vincent- this is my new favorite cheap bubbly. It's the second label from Gruet, and is a method champenoise wine that will be available for about $10 retail! Here's to hoping she likes the wines, and writes about them!

That's all for today- time to contact more cool, boutique wineries, so you can have something good to drink.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coming along nicely

Yeah, yeah, I is still a week or so between posts. To the two or three of you that are still following this blog, I apologize. One main reason for my lack of blogging is that my new office that I got into didn't have phone or internet until yesterday (no thanks to AT&T, whom tried to sell me services that aren't even available here). At any rate, I'm up and running in that department, so posting will be much easier now.

Here's where things stand- I now have all of my licenses, so legally I can buy and sell wine. Now it's just a matter of getting contracts set up with trucking companies, getting labels registered, and getting the juice shipped. I'm fully confident that I can have wine in stock by June 30, which would be amazing! My office is fully functional now, and I am having a couch delivered this weekend for those afternoon "brainstorming sessions" that may arise. I am fairly confident that I will be carrying wines from Pietra Santa Winery in Hollister, CA, Domaine St. Vincent (2nd label of my beloved Gruet), and the wines from Ole Imports, out of New York. I have a couple of other irons in the fire, but those will be announced in due course.

So far, this has been a roller-coaster of a ride- I have sweated, cussed, laughed, almost cried, been angry, been giddy with joy, stressed, and relaxed. I'm sure that litany of emotions will continue, but it's a hell of a ride!

Tonight, I sample Domaine St Vincent. Wanna try some?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Headless Chicken

Yep, I'm running around like a headless chicken right now, which is my excuse for a lack of posting recently. As it turns out, starting a business is quite demanding on your time and energy. However, I did get the chance to play a little this last weekend. Friday night, I taught a class for some friends that were holding a fundraiser for their children's private school. Good wine was had, and everyone had a great time (I hope). Saturday was the June installment of Saint Louis Wine Therapy, and the theme was bubbly wines. I am happy to report that my favorite everyday bubbly (Gruet Demi Sec) easily went toe-to-toe with many of the "regular" Champagnes that are out there, and for 1/4 of the price. The wine of the night was a 1989 Cliquot Grande Dame Rose, probably the best Champagne I have ever tried. Sunday was the Slow Food Lambstravaganza event that Nicole and I volunteered to work. 8 chefs, 2 lambs, 73 people eating, awesome!

So, back to the business stuff- I drove to Jeff City yesterday to submit for my State liquor license. It sounds like the head state guy will sign off on it today, and it will get mailed to me this afternoon. As for the warehouse mess, I found a new warehouse and office space in Fenton (and also in Jefferson County- so I don't have to deal with STL County anymore), so today I have already met with the Fire Extinguisher company (file that under "miscellaneous unexpected expenses), my previous landlord, a carpet guy, and I still have to meet with the Fire Chief, AT&T, ADT, etc, etc, etc. I complain, but it's actually a lot of fun figuring all of this out.

Hopefully, I will be able to report that I have all licenses in hand by the end of the week, and can sell you some wine!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Epic" weekend

A lot of people have been using the term "epic" lately in a way to describe something that is really, really good. With that in mind, this last weekend could be truly characterized using that particular term. Friday night, my folks rolled into town, and we started off with apps and drinks at Farmhaus. The dishes were all standouts in their own way, but I truly love that chilled roast beef app. Get it, it's amazing. I also tried their cucumber martini, which was pretty refreshing- the icecubes had cucumbers in them, which was funky. Farmhaus was followed by a trip over to Five, once again for some apps and a bottle of 2007 Sandrone Barbera d'Alba- killer food, killer wine, killer restaurant. The Mrs particularly enjoyed the Rissoto Milanese- it's amazing how something so simple can be so delicious. We ended the evening with a nightcap on the patio at 33- 2004 Von Hovel Obremmeler Hutte Spatlese, if I'm not mistaken.

So, that night was amazing. The next night was a really fun one at home with the folks- patty melts and wine were on the docket, followed by an intense game of scrabble. We opened the newly released Summers Petite Syrah, and it is a very enjoyable, fruit-driven red. All of this following a typically "epic" lunch from Pappy's- the entire Adam Bomb!

We continued our ride on the epic train on Sunday with a post-church early lunch at Lilly's on Kingshighway. This is one of our favorite authentic Mexican restaurants. I tried the torta with carnitas. It was good, but no match for the one you can get at La Vallesana on Cherokee. That night, the folks left, and the wife and I made some pasta, played scrabble, and built a fire in the fire pit- great evening hanging at home.

Were we done yet? Not even close. Yesterday, a large group of friends descended upon our backyard for some Memorial Day grillin' and pork smokin' action. Several bottles of good wine were broken out- including 2005 Cadence, Copain Pinot, Kistler Pinot, and a delcious Sancerre that I can't recall the name. It was a fantastic, fun evening where nobody got too out of control, and everyone left our house full and smiling.

We are truly blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to celebrate with.