Recently, I came across another great New York venue for wine enthusiastsby Barry Smith / May 18, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
Where can you enjoy a really good bottle of wine in New York? Obviously there are ritzy hotel bars, palaces of luxury, where city lawyers and their clients pay for the privilege of sharing exquisite bottles. But there are also some less well-known locations.
One of the most unexpected venues, unfamiliar to all but the knowing, is essentially a pizza-pasta joint. Otto’s Enoteca & Pizzeria is the creation of renowned chef Mario Batali. Situated on Eighth Street, near Washington Square, it boasts a wine list (printed on the back of the menu card) with over 300 prized Italian wines. It is the place where I have experienced two of my favourite “last chance to try” wines.
The first was a Barolo made by Eritrean-born Teobaldo Cappellano using grapes from a pre-phylloxera vineyard. In 2006, I sat beside him at a lunch in Pollenzo. “How many of my 2007 wines would you like to buy?” he asked me. “A case?” I suggested. “You can’t. They’ve all been sold,” he said, laughing uproariously. At the time we were drinking a svelte, yet textured 1997 Barolo. It was a thing of beauty and so the pleasure I felt in Otto’s when I discovered a remaining bottle of one of Cappellano’s last wines was immeasurable. Sadly, he is no longer with us. With each sip my companions and I celebrated this remarkable man and his achievement as a winemaker.