Best New Sommeliers of 2013


Andrey Ivanov, Elaia and Olio, St. Louis

How does the kid from Yakutsk become the young wine tsar of St. Louis?

After immigrating to the United States with his family in 1992 from Yakutsk in northeastern Siberia, Andrey Ivanov embraced his adopted hometown of St. Louis, earning a dual degree with honors in International Business and Russian Studies from St. Louis University in 2007. After graduation, he aimed to find a job in sales, but the economy was bleak. So he stayed in the hospitality industry, where he'd worked throughout high school and college, and began to realize that wine melds all the topics he likes to nerd out to—history, geology, sociology, chemistry and food. Working at Vin de Set, a Provençal-inspired restaurant in St. Louis, he threw himself into wine studies, and passed the Certified Sommelier exam in 2009.

Louis's top wine haunts—Brasserie by Niche and 33 Wine Shop and Tasting Bar—and passed the Advanced Sommelier exam in August 2011—receiving the Rudd Scholarship and Johnston Medal for having the highest score for the year. Ivanov briefly flirted with the idea of moving to a larger city to gain more exposure for his palate, but ultimately decided to stay on: In fall of 2012, celebrated local chef Ben Poremba opened the restaurants Elaia and Olio, and tapped Ivanov as GM and beverage director. Both wine lists have become showcases for Ivanov's adventurous tastes. His current passion is wine from Galicia, where he spent time last summer visiting winemakers, such as Gerardo Mendez of Do Ferreiro. You can read about the trip at postphylloxera.com, a site he launched with some wine friends to chronicle their travels and explore wine cultures around the world. —Caitlin Griffith

First Love

The wine that hooked me: a buttery, rich Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay.

Trending

Santorini, Greece's answer to a quencher. I like to pair it, specifically the Estate Argyros 2011 Assyrtiko, with charred octopus, and a cauliflower panna cotta to bring out the celery notes in the wine.

Favorite Bottles

I'm super excited about Madeira, and we always have a bottle open at the bar. There are so many cool, old vintages—right now we have a 1969 d'Oliveiras Sercial open for tasting or by the glass.

Non-Wine Drink

Now that Anheuser-Busch is no longer headquartered in the Gateway to the West, a vibrant beer culture is back in a big way. My go-to? A classically sessionable ale that refreshes and quenches like water, the Civil Life Brown Ale.

Adivce to Aspiring Somms

Geek out. All of those qualities that made you nerdy and unsure of yourself in high school? Those are exactly the qualities that make you a cool, interesting person in adulthood. Let them over take your personality.

Lady in his Life

My five-year-old pup, Lyra. She is an American Staffordshire Terrier, and gets me out of the house and into the park. I need her to remind me to take a bike ride from time to time.