Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cowboy Up at Maremma

Have we ranted enough about restaurant wine lists? We probably have but I just can’t help myself. Vinogirl trudged through the rain Friday night to a restaurant in the neighborhood (Greenwich Village) called Maremma. Maremma is dedicated to the region of the same name on the coast of Tuscany an area known not only for its cowboys and simple, rustic Italian cuisine but for illustrious Super Tuscan wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. Not a bad foundation with which to build a great restaurant, not to mention a great wine list.

Maremma’s décor is rustically striking and the staff is very friendly. Unfortunately that is where the attraction ends. Ordering the food was easy because we were starving and everything on the menu makes your mouth water. What could be bad about slow cooked short ribs or Tuscan crepes with basil & walnut pesto? I got the food ordering out of the way so that I could dig in to the wine list. I was so looking forward to picking out a great Super Tuscan given the list is made up entirely of wines from the flourishing Maremma region.

The list is not long – one page of whites and one of reds – but you would think since they have one region to concentrate on that you would find some real gems in there. Not so. First of all, the majority of bottles offered (I can safely say 95%) are from the 2003 and 2004 vintages, including the Sassicaia. That wine is no where near ready to drink. Perhaps some of the simpler wines offered at lower price points are ready but, really, where is the excitement in that?

A smattering of wines from the lousy and inconsistent 2002 vintage made the list but I tend to stay away from Tuscan ‘02s unless they are a known entity and I did not recognize any of the producers on hand. Maremma has a stash of 2003 Le Volte which is the “value” wine from Lodovico Antinori of Ornellaia and Masseto fame. I have had the 2003 Le Volte and, although I agree that it is a great wine for the price, every Italian restaurant in NYC seems to have it on their list right now and, frankly, I’m over it.

Finally I settled on a Morellino di Scansano, the only 2001 on the list. I usually dislike Morellino di Scanscano but I wasn’t about to go for broke on this list and our waiter, who also admitted to being responsible for this riveting wine list, proclaimed it to have more depth than your average Morellino. He was right but it was only just passable. The food, by the way, was just passable as well. I guess we’ll have to cowboy up and quit ranting about restaurant wine lists for awhile. All you can do is dust off our boots and keep trying. Andiamo!

1 comment:

  1. Hello:

    Too bad...The Italian Maremma has such great energy, reminds me of California, lot's of freedom and innovation. Let's hope these restaurant owners get their bearing before they're bucked off their horse. We need ambassadors for the region, not just for Sassicaia.
    We already know that dog'll hunt.