Soon after the DJ inexplicably segued choppily from the middle of a Nirvana song to Bon Jovi, at extremely high volume, my friends and I gave up screaming over the noise and fled the restaurant. A previously reliable spot, it was attempting to change direction, our server explained. Since that last auditory assault had been preceded by a string of early ’80s nostalgia from the likes of Rick Springfield and Joan Jett, all hits before the majority of the bar crowd was even born (was he DJing ironically?), we never figured out what that restaurant was aiming for—but it certainly wasn’t trying to keep people in the dining room.
We escaped to nearby La Fonda del Sol, a tapas-oriented restaurant in the MetLife Building by Grand Central Terminal. We settled into the front lounge area for some post-dinner drinks in a more soothingly sophisticated, but still lively, environment. Its intriguing selection of about 20 wines by the glass included the Spanish grape Godello, an obscure variety native to northwestern Spain’s Valdeorras region that has undergone a resurrection in quality and plantings after nearly fading out in this challenging growing area. I’d previously enjoyed Godello from Bodegas Godeval (its 2010 Viña Godeval made the Top 100 Wines of 2011), so I thought I'd try this version from Rafael Palacios ($13 per glass).
I was struck by the vibrancy of the wine, with its complex, well-knit layers of savory mineral, lightly toasted and fresh herbs, beeswax and citrus on a firm structure. 90 points, non-blind. Deeply glad that I was able to concentrate for the first time all night, I kept coming back to my glass to study the aromas and flavors. Godello can produce fascinating wines worth checking out if you find them, and this one showed that, when done right, looking back to the past can carry you well into the future.
La Fonda del Sol
44th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, New York 10166
Telephone: (212) 867-6767