Saturday, May 7, 2011
Wine Bar Crawl, Destination #3
Immediately the difference in ambiance between our prior two stops and this one struck us, as we snagged the last two seats at an extremely crowded bar. At this point we were ready to order some dinner but as our plans for the entire evening were vague, we hadn't made a reservation. I suppose in one sense we were lucky to get seats at all. Unfortunately, the party directly to my right had no sense of space, and I was rudely jostled throughout the entire meal. No fun.
In all fairness, I suppose I should return to Centro Vinoteca during a quieter time, as the craziness was the root of my dissatisfaction with the place. The food was very good - both Carol and I sampled different pastas - and the wine list was nicely focused, with over thirty Italian wines available by the glass. (I should say by the quartino, for at Centro Vinoteca, the pour is measured out to a vessel slightly over a glass.)
But our bartender Connor was slammed with patrons, and when I pronounced the first wine we were tasting as corked, he rather fussily agreed with my assessment, seeming put out at the need to remedy the situation. Then, after opening another bottle, he poured it immediately without offering a taste. Bad form, in my opinion, no matter how crowded the bar.
[It is unfortunate that many people mistake the off-odor of 2, 4, 6 - Trichloroanisole (TCA) as merely an unpleasant note in the wine. In reality, it is a by-product of the cork bleaching process and can happen to any wine stopped with a traditional cork. Some people are more sensitive to TCA than others, and while it is in a Wineaux's best interest to learn to properly identify this cork taint, is is also the responsibility of the server to acquiesce to his customer.]
Luckily, the second pour of 2009 Bolgheri Rosso Scire was fine, with a nose of cherries, and blueberry pie filling, herbs, rosemary and a hint of prune on the palate. It was warm and rich with a nice finish and good body. 
We also tasted the 2009 Colline del Sole Aglianico, which had a nose of roasted meats, and cherry pie and violets in the mouth. It was bright, but balanced with a good earthiness on the finish. 
With the crowd, noise level and nudgy neighbors, we couldn't wait to get out of there. But I'm not ready to completely write off Centro Vinoteca just yet. On Mondays they have half-price bottles, and are offering a five-course wine tasting dinner on Sundays this summer, so I expect I will give it another go and cross my fingers for a more relaxed, wine-focused experience.
Centro Vinoteca - 74 Seventh Avenue S, NYC ~ 212-367-7470 ~ www.centrovinoteca.com