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Friday, May 7, 2010

Great Values in St. Louis Wines: 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar

Posted By on Fri, May 7, 2010 at 11:00 AM

Given Gut Check's never-ending quest for obsession with great wine values, we figured it'd be a good idea to check in from time to time with local merchants. They pick three wines they consider to be excellent values, and Gut Check buys and tries one of them. Price is important, but value is really what we're all after.

Here's looking at you! Jeff Stettner, proprietor of 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar in Lafayette Square. - DAVE NELSON
  • Dave Nelson
  • Here's looking at you! Jeff Stettner, proprietor of 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar in Lafayette Square.

Despite its name, many folks don't realize that 33 Wine Shop & Tasting Bar (1913 Park Avenue; 314-231-9463) sells bottles at retail to take home.

It's not a traditional shopping experience, and it's all the better for it. Instead of the usual aisle-strolling among the case stacks, you pull up a chair, order a glass (or a bottle), read through the list of offerings and engage in an actual conversation about wine with owner Jeff Stettner or his knowledgeable long-time employees, Dylan Mosley and Mike Bianco. They'll assemble your order from 33's temperature-controlled cellars.

A truly civilized way to shop.

Today Stettner picks three of his favorites from the list. First up: Stettner's Value Pick...

Value Pick: 2009 Venta Morales Tempranillo La Mancha ($9)

Inexpensive Spanish wines have been the rage for the past few years, but the vast majority of these are based on grenache -- a grape that tends to great ripeness and jamminess -- to that point that many of these wines are hard to distinguish from one another. Stetter's selection, though, is based on tempranillo, the grape that made Spain's Rioja region famous. The last vintage was the first he'd stocked, and he was impressed that it was "really solid" and a great value. "We didn't buy enough last year at all -- it went really quickly," he laments.

So he stocked up this year and thinks this edition might be even better than the '08.

Never one to take another drinker's word when there's a bottle in front of us, Gut Check popped the cork on one. It reveals itself in the deep, impenetrable purple that has come to characterize Spanish value reds. This one smells like concentrated grape juice, with the ripeness masking most of tempranillo's distinctive characteristics. With time in the glass, though, a hint of the grape's leathery earthiness glimmers through. The flavor isn't as fruit-heavy as it threatens to be, and it's bolstered by a backbone of nice chalky tannins. It would make a fine companion to pulled pork, or a plate of salami and cheese at 33.

Next: Something Special...

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