Not having seen Lee since we visited Clo, I called him upon returning from Colombia to arrange a wine bar date. I suggested that we meet at Bar Veloce in Chelsea, on a blustering Thursday night, and I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised upon arriving to not find a seat in sight. Though one of the few wine bars in its vicinity, it’s not the last wine bar on earth; however, with glasses of Italian wine from $8-$11, it may be one of the most inexpensive wine bars left in New York.
Opened first in the East Village in 2000, and owned by Frederick E. Twomey (with whom I worked at the Peculiar Pub-a gazillion years ago), Bar Veloce was one of the first–that I can recall–in New York of its kind. A sleek, soft-lit modern wine bar that served only wine and panini-bar fare, it was a welcome reprieve from the beer and shot sprawl along Second Avenue at the time. Flash forward nine years later, and now there are four, including one Bar Veloce in Soho and another in Vegas.
With twenty occupied seats at the bar and twenty more around counter-like table tops, low ceilings and a brick wall, there’s something about the acoustics in this bar that doesn’t quite work. I have on a few occasions opened the door and left, after being blown away by the high pitched reverberations that no amount of Coltrane on the sound system could possibly drown out. Last night’s ambient sound was a little less shrill, perhaps mellowed by the voices of men, who populated the place.
Showcasing an elegant eye-candy display behind the bar, back lit with horizontal bottles of wine, stemware, and colorful Italian liquors, Bar Veloce offers seven reds and whites by the glass, and one rosé. With an additional four bottles of white and ten red, the selection here isn’t galactic, but rather selective; I haven’t sipped a wine here that I haven’t liked.
After waiting and waiting to order a drink, I came to appreciate the solo tender’s unhurried approach to managing the night. And while this wasn’t the time nor place to chat him up about the selection of wines, the descriptions on the menu are accurate and sufficiently detailed to aid one’s choice.
I began with a wine that’s been coined by the locals, “The Black Prince”–Duca San Felice Reserva 2005. Made from 100% Gaglioppo, a southern Italian varietal in Calabria, that’s also grown in Abruzzo, Umbria, and the Marche, the Duca San Felice is a full bodied wine displaying black fruit, leather, tobacco, and spice (clove). With medium acidity harmonizing the tannins, “The Black Prince” finished long.
Lee and I both ordered the Negroamaro Sangue Blu, 2006, from Puglia, in lieu of the Melograno Santa Lucia, 2006, that was out of stock last night. Deep ruby in color (and pictured above on the left), the Sangue Blu is an earthy wine, pleasantly musty on the nose, spicy and herbaceous (cilantro!), with dried red fruit.
[Where: Bar Veloce, 176 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10011]