Robust Wine Bar and Cafe



You can read, read, read, read, but there's no substitute for actually tasting wines, which is why wine flights are such a boon. Instead of getting a single glass or bottle at a time, ordering a flight gets you three or four smaller pours of different wines. Not only does that multiply your experience, it also allows you to directly compare the wines to each other.

Here are some flights on offer around town that are worth going out and trying...tonight!

We'll start with two selections from Robust Wine Bar and Cafe (227 West Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves; 314-963-0033). Few if any local wine bars put as much thought into creating their wine flights as Robust does. Here you'll find good producers, interesting combinations and fair prices.

"Bubble Bath" Sparkling Flight ($13 for 3 - 3 oz. pours) Adami, proscecco - Piedmont, Italy Francois Montand Blanc de Blanc, chardonnay - Gascony, France Lucien Albrecht Cremant Rosé Brut, pinot noir - Alsace, France

Champagne garners so much attention that it's easy to forget that lots of sparkling wines are made in lots of other places, in lots of different styles. Many are delicious on their own and work with foods that Champagne doesn't play as nicely with. And the prices tend to be far more wallet-friendly.

Prosecco is a great source of fresh sparkling wines made from the indigenous grape of the same name. The Montand and the Albrecht provide a unique opportunity to see how the two main grapes of Champagne (pinot meunier is the third) produce sparkling wines in very different regions.

Gascony, some 400 miles south of Champagne, is home to Bordeaux. The warmer environment should make the chardonnay grown there more overtly fruity than the same grape grown in Champagne. Alsace is east of Champagne, in the foothills of the Alps; while still (as in not effervescent) pinot noirs from that region can verge on underripe, a sparkling version from a quality producer like Albrecht should be a real treat.

"Under the Tuscan Sun" Red Wine Flight ($24 for 3 - 3 oz. pours) 2005 Ortaglia Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, sangiovese - Tuscany, Italy 2005 Terrabianca Campaccio Super Tuscan - Tuscany, Italy \ 2005 I Giusti e Zanza Perbruno, syrah - Tuscany, Italy

This flight makes a great follow-up to the Thrill or Swill installment published earlier this week; it's an opportunity to explore all that is happening in Tuscan wine and gauge where your tastes lie.

Starting with the traditional, the Ortaglia features sangiovese blended with canaiolo and mammolo, two other indigenous Tuscan varieties. The Terrabianca makes the jump to a "super Tuscan" blend of equal parts sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. While the I Giusti is made entirely from a non-traditional grape, that grape -- syrah -- was the minority component in the Morellino di Scansano featured in Thrill or Swill.

In addition to working through a range of traditional and international varieties grown in Tuscany, this flight will provide an opportunity to see what you think of the incorporation of wood flavors. If you know you're averse to the influence of oak, you may want to look elsewhere on Robust's flight schedule.

Next week: a pair of whisky flights from the Scottish Arms....


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