While in Richmond for a meeting our small group visited La Grotta restaurant in Shockoe Slip, a historic district with cobblestones and plentiful restaurants and bars. The restaurant is highly awarded and known for its Northern Italian cuisine and tasty homemade pasta.
Upon scanning the menu I selected the Agnolotti alla Panna, which is homemade ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta cheese served in a light cream sauce. Since there were just three of us and one wanted white, we decided to go by the glass. We ordered a glass of Trebbiano, Basel Cellars Cabernet and I decided some Sangiovese was in order.
My choice was Bocelli, a red wine from Tuscany that is 100% Sangiovese. Sangiovese is a delicious grape that pairs perfectly with Italian food. My selection was soft and lush, brimming with red cherry flavors and nary a tannin in sight.
The ravioli was superb, not a heaping mound of machine-made circles, but about a dozen carefully crimped pastas loaded with a beef, veal, spinach and veggie filling. They were resting comfortably in a pool of delicious sauce, which wasn’t heavy. I didn’t need it, but the waiter gladly added a couple tablespoons of fresh Parmesan cheese.
Rule one of wine pairing is to match the cuisine with wine from the same region. This is a good example of why this axiom is true. The softness of the Bocelli blended with the creaminess of the sauce and the mild seasoning of the filling without being clumsy.
The sound system supplied a liberal dose of Rat Pack era Sinatra while we enjoyed our meal in the the grotto-like setting of the restaurant. It’s located down a flight of stairs and also features a bartender quite knowledgeable about the inside game of baseball.
Bocelli is a friendly, dependable red to accompany your Italian fare.