After scoring a sweet pair of boots at Century 21, I headed up West Broadway to Franklin, where I found the Vinovino Wine Bar Wine Shop. At a few minutes past five, I practically had the place to myself. By the time I left at around seven, the bar was a little livelier, but far from packed. Perhaps the downtown crowd had lost its heel, in the face of this week’s financial crash. Or maybe Vinovino is somehow off the beaten track…
With high tin ceilings and dark wood floors, Vinovino is a long narrow space split in two–a tasting room with a clear view of the boutique. Leather banquets run the length of the bar’s brick wall, and for those who prefer high stools, there’s a small bar in the back. With a sprinkling of candles, both bar and shop are warmly lit, providing just enough light to illuminate the theatre and props of the shop.
The menu offers an interesting selection of eight whites and rosés, and nine reds, most of which are available by the glass ($7-20), quartino, and bottle, for $26 to $97 a pop. For nibbling, there’s cheese and cured meats, along with a fair offering of savory small plates. With an informative staff who provides accurate descriptions, one should have no problem navigating the unusual selection of wines.
Eager to drink red, but stifled by the muggy September heat, I opted for an unfamiliar varietal-Dornfelder, Nektar, Latitude 50* (Rheingau, Germany) 2006, expecting a light bodied wine. And though the body was indeed light, the flavor was anything but fair; I was pleasantly surprised by the big flavors packed into this west German red wine. Produced by Weingut Rapp in the Pfalz region, and made from 100% Dornfelder (a dark-skinned variety that was created in Germany in 1956), Latitude 50* is dark garnet in color and silky smooth. Possessing cherry on the nose along with hints of earthy spice, this medium acidity wine has balanced tannins and a pleasant finish that lingers long.
After sampling the Zweigelt, Huber (Traisental, Austria) 2006, I declined to order a glass. Fruit forward and light bodied like the Dornfelder, this varietal lacked the tannins that made my last glass so structurally sound.
Instead, I ordered the Alentejo Tinto, Marques de Montemor, Quinta Plansel (Alentejo, Portugal) 2006, which is made from the Portuguese grape varieties-Trincadeira 30%, Aragonez 40%, and Touriga Nacional 30%. A medium bodied fruit forward wine with notes of cherry and black berry fruits accompanied by an eucalyptus-like spice, this was a much better follow up to the Dornfelder. If not quite as interesting, it was a healthy pour that offered a pleasant send off into the night.
[Where: 211 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013]