I’ve read articles like Eric Asimov’s piece that appeared in the New York Times, “Your New Best Friend: The Sommelier”, so we took the opportunity to ask the sommelier for guidance at Gemma in the East Village in NYC. The restaurant is a casual trattoria in the Bowery Hotel. The 20 page wine list features mostly Italian wines. We ogle over the $100 plus Brunellos but our price sensitivity prompts us to order a lower end $42 Chianti from the waiter. When the sommelier brings the unopened bottle to our table to show us our “house wine”, we take the chance to ask him if he has a better suggestion in our price range. He replies that for $50 he can show us a better wine and returns with Monsanto Chianti. I unenthusiastically mention that we have had this wine before and the sommelier reads our lack of excitement well. We have a five minute chat about wine and our heart’s desire (the Brunello) is revealed. After a moment of thought, the somm tells us that he has a bottle of Brunello that he can sell us for $65. He brings the 2006 Ventolaio and we are thrilled.
The 2006 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino is highly rated for its consistency, quality, and elegant restraint. The decanted Ventolaio delivers balance and structure. The nose is softly fruity and floral. The full-bodied palate is earthy and nutty with a touch of astringency. The wine paired well with our pasta and steak and its acidity complimented the crostini topped with olive tapenade and goat cheese.
The up-sell by the somm from the Chianti house wine to the Ventolaio Brunello di Montalcino made for a truly delightful wine experience and we don’t regret it for a minute.