Belly Up to the Wine List: Riddle's Penultimate Cafe & Wine Bar

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Tom Carlson
See this guy? His name's Derek Flieg. When you're at Riddle's, seek him out and ask him about wine.
​Loop landmark Riddle's Penultimate Cafe & Wine Bar (6307 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-725-6985) has long been a beacon of fine wine and eclectic cuisine that spotlights the work of local farmers. As ownership and chef's toque have passed from founder Andy Ayers to his daughter KT, stewardship of Riddle's wine program passed to longtime employee and now bar manager Derek Flieg. While much has stayed the same, one critical component of the Riddle's philosophy that has carried over is constant change.

On any given night, you'll be able to choose among 250 to 300 selections, most at fair prices -- twice retail or below. Older vintages can be absolute steals, but they are being slurped up more quickly than Flieg can reload. He does promise that there are "cases of wine stashed all over the restaurant" awaiting completion of their evolution before being added to the list.

Next up: Gut Check's Wine List CherryPick: Three wines to try from Riddle's list, painstakingly researched and selected for our discerning readers...

Gut Check's CherryPicks:

2000 Chateau Olivier Graves ($36) and 1999 Chateau du Tertre Margaux ($50) Aged red Bordeaux from two quality producers for $50 or less? We'll take 'em both! The 2000's a riper vintage, the 1999 more elegant owing to both the vintage and the appellation. Have you been wondering why Bordeaux is a classic accompaniment to a fine dinner? Look no further.

1997 Joseph Drouhin Griotte-Chambertin, Grand Cru ($140) OK, this isn't cheap, but Griotte-Chambertin is never cheap, and it's rarely seen at all (the entire appellation covers only 6.5 acres). Riddle's price for this thirteen-year-old example is well below the retail price of the current vintage. 1997 was a more forward vintage, but with Drouhin's elegant style, this wine ought to be beautiful now. Made from the winemaker's own holdings in one of the Burgundy cognoscenti's favorite grand crus, this one is worth a shot if your budget can take the hit.

Next: More about Riddle's wine list...


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