On Wednesday, I met Lee and Jenn at Clo–the three month old wine bar, located in the Time Warner Building. A small space partitioned in the “mallway” just outside of Per Se, Clo offers spectacular views of Columbus Circle and innovative ways to order wine. And while the rotating 100 bottle selection aims to pleasure a variety of taste buds, the price list caters to bankrolled boozers or to the curious, out to sample a couple of artisanal wines. To quote Lee on this matter: “For professionals like us, it’s probably cost $2,000 to get drunk here.”
A cavernous space with one long table, and two seats that overlook the mall and it’s spacious view, Clo removes the bartender from the service equation and lets you service yourself. With a couple of floating experts available to guide you through the “multi-touch projection menu” or to discuss your selection of wines, you are never fully alone, which one could argue for or against.
I personally love servers who offer me a taste before I commit to a glass of wine. I am also a friend of the heavy hand. At Clo, neither of these options exist. Once you manage to navigate the projected screen and all of its offerings, which does take some time, you purchase a card (or leave your credit card as collateral), and step to the “eno-tasting system” along the periphery to purchase your “glass” of wine. With each pour measured at four ounces and not a drop more, one can taste the wine, and then it’s gone.
After navigating the menu for ten to fifteen minutes, reading through tasting notes and searching my options by color, grape varietal, region, and price, I decided upon the Domaine Weinbach “Theo” 2006, a riesling from Alsace ($16 gl./74 btl.). Full of petrol, tropical fruits, minerality, floral notes, and perfume, the bouquet on this wine was so divine, I was wishing I could bottle and sport it as a scent. Served as if on ice, my glass of wine sat on the counter while I played with the menu a little more, waiting for it to warm.
For my second and last tasting, I bypassed the 1998 Viga Sicilia Unico ($89/600!) and chose the 2006 Lafarge Bourgogne Passetoutgrain ($12/52)–a medium bodied red made from pinot noir and gamay, and possessing notes of red fruit, candy, mineral, and spice. An elegant wine with medium tannins, that soon vanished from my glass.
Clo is a fun experience for the curious, but not necessarily for those looking to connect. With the menus projected along the center of the table, you’re never far from your neighbor, who more often than not, is just as clueless about the system as you (I mean me). We spent most of our time ogling the space-age projections, and less time engaging with each other over the Christmas muzak that rang through the mall. That said, it’s a fabulous place to take visiting relatives and friends. Even though I work nearby, it will not become my second home any time soon, but with so few wine options in the neighborhood, I’ll probably be back. If your visitors do not yet understand why you live in New York, having festive options like this should be the icing on your cake.
[Where: Clo Wine Bar, Time Warner Center, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10019]