Having rhapsodized recently about Bordeaux’s CIVB wine bar, I decided I needed to spend more time checking out the New York wine scene. Which brought me to Bar Veloce, a dimly lit, highly stylized wine bar on Seventh Avenue (there are also Soho and East Village locations) serving a wide variety of interesting Italian wines.
The narrow space is sparely decorated with natural wood and black metal. An exposed brick wall is lined with 2x4s that have been inventively modified as wine storage. Stripes of dark and light bottles are artistically lit from behind. The light gently penetrates the white wines bottles, giving off golden spotlights.
Last night the bar was completely packed, but my friend and I squeezed into a couple seats in the back. From there, we faced a flatscreen showing old Italian films subtitled in English. Our bar tender, an engaging young man nattily dressed in a dark suit and tie, knew his selections well. We were also assisted by the menu’s helpful tasting notes.
I’m no expert when it comes to Italian wine, and I was unfamiliar with most of the choices—a good thing! I appreciate being introduced to different varietals. Now I’ll contradict myself by saying I choose the only red I knew: a Montepulciano. This 2006 had rich fruit, nice acid, and light tannins--yum.
My dear friend Lauren amplified my tastings by trying an assortment of the other reds—and being willing to share. The most interesting wine of the night was a Poggio l’Aiole 2003. It was aged five years in cement barriques. The tasting notes mentioned cloves and this wine was SPICY! Very distinctive stuff. I had a few sips, but I really need to sit down with a glass or two of my own to analyze it further.
I enjoyed the comfortable, upscale atmosphere. We had come for an after-dinner drink and this bar fit the bill perfectly. The bar does offer small plates of food—a good and bad thing, in my opinion. The food looked tasty, but the smell of it cooking (there seems to be no kitchen in the back and I believe we were seated directly by the Panini press) was a distraction from the wine tasting.
I’ve read that Italy has more miles of vineyards than anywhere in the world and that it has scores of varietals planted. Bar Veloce goes beyond the straw Chianti bottle and introduces adventurous imbibers to intriguing and unknown Italian wines.