After being squeezed out of Terroir before we could enter, Caitlin and I walked east to Pata Negra, a five month old wine and tapas bar, named for an apparently delectable ham. (Being a pescatarian, I’ll leave that part of the experience for someone else to try.) With an inconspicuous facade, Pata Negra is located at 345 East 12th Street, and at 7 PM there wasn’t yet much of a crowd. Upon passing through the glass door, we found just what we needed, a table for two in a brick walled room, and an interesting selection of affordable wines.
An intimate space that seats approximately 23, including the three stools at the bar, Pata Negra is owned by Rafael Mateo, who is unquestionably passionate about Spanish wines. And boy, were we glad he was there that night. Being unfamiliar with Spanish whites (there are ten offered by both the bottle and glass), I didn’t know where begin. (The menu lacks descriptions, but I much prefer conversing with whomever can describe their wines.) Caitlin on the other hand, being pretty well versed on Albarinos, was eager to experiment, but knew what she wanted to drink.
Asking for a wine with minerality, I could have been served most any white from the menu, but Mateo appreciates a woman’s desire to enjoy her wine, and so, he offered us a few tastes to sample (always a plus!) before asking us to commit to a glass.
Sharing four wines between us, we began with the Vina Costeira Treixadura, 2006, from the Riberio region of Spain, which was served in a glass that was bowled for a wine’s bouquet. (Worth noting, as not all glasses are suited for savoring!) The color of pale straw, this wine possessed stone fruits on the nose and palate–peach, nectarine, and apricot–along with notes of grass. Finishing with a fine minerality, this wine was good (I’d drink it again), but also my least favorite of the four.
Moving on to the Laxas Albarino 2007, Rias Baixas, I became an immediate convert. Made from 100% Albarino, a delicate native grape grown only in the northwest of Spain, this wine had a most powerful bouquet, reminiscent of Riesling with a floral essence of apricot. Tart and crisp, we also detected something briny on the palate, that ended with citrus.
Next, Mateo suggested the Pie Franco Verdego 2007, Rueda, but not before telling us that if we didn’t like this selection, there most certainly had to be something wrong. Senses validated, we both found this to be a most delectable wine. Golden light yellow with a gorgeous bouquet full of (yes) cat urine, and slightly floral with a hint of grass, the Pie Franco Verdego was tart, but almost fruitless, and provided a tingling sensation on the tongue (less than effervescent). Perhaps similar to a dried lime, the tartness gave way to a fine minerality, which is how it lingered, until we turned our attention to the final wine.
The Monte Novo Godello 2007, Valdeorras was the smoothest of all four, with transitions so seamless that the individual flavors were almost difficult to detect. Greenish yellow in color, with perhaps cherry on the nose and definite minerality, this selection was another winner, making me ever so curious to experience Mateo’s selection of reds when the summer ends.
[Where: 345 East 12th Street, New York, New York 10003]