A Voce Columbus, a lively Italian restaurant in the Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan, earned a Grand Award for its wine program this year. So I invited some friends to dine with me and check it out.
It was a lovely summer evening, and the view from the dining room over Central Park as the sun set was spectacular. The open room with its high ceilings has a casual feel, but the softening light made it feel like a cathedral.
Chef Missy Robbins offers classic dishes but adds distinctive flavorings that give them punch and personality. A side dish of sliced radishes, for example, was amplified by an anchovy dressing. Red pepper gave a spicy jolt to spaghetti with clams.
To refresh our palates, and to counter the summer heat, we chose light, fresh wines. Even though we were on a budget, there was plenty to choose from, as nearly half the wines on the 2,500-selection list are priced under $100.
A 2010 Vermentino ($55) from Cantina Lunae from Liguria was smooth in texture, but firm and clean with bright acidity and an undertone of minerality. Head sommelier Zachary Kameron led us to our red, a Cerasuolo di Vittoria from Planeta winery in Sicily. This blend of Nero d’Avola and Frappato, both indigenous grapes, was light-bodied and fresh, with bitter cherry, floral and light herbal notes. Served slightly cool, it was a delicious and refreshing accompaniment to the assertive flavors in the food; I rated it 89 points, non-blind. At $55, it was an excellent value, proving that you can benefit from a Grand Award without breaking the bank.
WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated red wines from Sicily.