Experiencing my own personal recession, which has nothing to do with greedy investors and everything to do with a very indulgent birthday weekend a few weeks back, I decided to visit a few free tastings this week, beginning with one at Vino Wine and Spirits, 121 East 27th Street. Specializing in Italian wines since 2000, Vino claims to represent labels from “every wine producing region in Italy,” and I believe them. A small, accessible boutique, with a sizable offering of wines for under $20, Vino showcased the three red wines of Casa Emma, on Friday night.
A one-stop shop for all your Italian varietal needs, Vino hosts weekly tastings and offers classes on a range of subjects such as “Italian Effervescence!” and “Barolo, Barbaresco and the wines of the Langhe.” (Sign me up for that one!) Cultivating relationships with at least half of the producers whose wine they sell, Vino retails Italian wines that are not offered elsewhere in this country.
On Friday night, the tasting at Vino consisted of three Tuscan wines from producer Casa Emma: Chianti Classico, 2005, Chianti Classico Riserva, 2004, and Soloio, 2004.
Ninety percent Sangiovese, the Chianti Classico, 2005 ($21), is a bright ruby wine with a slight bouquet, offering hints of cherry and a little spice. Smooth, somewhat simple, and slightly tannic with tastes of cherry and oak, the Chianti Classico has a slightly bitter finish that might tame with the right bite.
Moving up a few notches, in both flavor and price ($47), to the Chianti Classico Riserva, 2004 (95% Sangiovese), I found here a greater complexity and a heartier mouthful of wine. Deep ruby with an earthy bouquet, the Riserva displays a variety of aromas, including, cherry, leather, and wet leaves. Spicy but smooth, this heartier Chianti finishes with a slight sour bite and lingers long.
The surprise of the night was the Soloio, 2004, 100% Merlot. American winemakers could learn a few things here, though perhaps it’s all in the terrior…I do not know. Deep garnet with earthy scents of mushroom and cherry, that appear on the palate in addition to spice, the Soloio is hearty but smooth with balanced tannins, and finishes long. Unfortunately at $58 a bottle, this isn’t a Merlot I’ll be celebrating any time soon.
[Where: Vino, 121 E. 27th St., New York, NY 10016]