August 2012 Wine Guy: Seafood pairs nicely with summer wines at Springfield Grille

By JOHN WEBSTER | Metro Monthly Wine Columnist

Sizzling July provided a number of hot wine events for eager wine drinkers looking for suitable wines to go with the unseasonably warm temperatures.

Springfield Grille held a unique tasting featuring the wines of Cutting Edge Selections distributor and seafood selections from Curtze Food Service of Erie. Pa. Curtze’s Liam Kelly attended and led the diners through an amazing five-course dinner featuring outstanding seafood selection paired to delicious wines from Cutting Edge.

Charred summer corn broth and clams were paired to a 2011 Ponga Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Bright fresh citrus and melon flavors paired deliciously with the savory corn broth and clams.

Our next wine sampling was a 2010 Gustav Adolf Schmitt Riesling Spatelese from Rheinhessen, Germany. Ripe pear and apple flavors and a clean off-dry finish made this a fine choice for the pan-seared scallops wrapped in phyllo dough perched atop candied pineapple slices. Refreshingly light yet filling, this pairing is what summer dining is all about.

Our salad course was grilled marinated calamari primavera with onion, squash, carrots and greens. This textbook summer dish was partnered with a glass of 2011 Hermanos Torrentes from Cafayate, Argentina. Lush tropical fruit flavors followed by a clean textured finish were just the answer for the crunchy calamari-laden salad. If you’re a regular reader of this column, you know I’m a big fan of salmon, so it won’t come as a surprise that I was in heaven when our main course of Scottish salmon papillote (baked in a pouch) was served. The Springfield staff chose a 2010 Alchemist Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley of Oregon to go with this delicious entrée.

Lush aromas of dark cherry-tinged with leather followed by a long seamless finish made this a memorable food and wine pairing. Our finishing wine was the 2007 Marques de Gelida Brut Exclusive from the Penedes region of Spain. It was served with a piece of “chocolate decadence cake” set upon vanilla crème sauce and fresh berries.

The Gelida Cava is a unique blend of indigenous Macabeo (35 percent), Xarel-lo (30 percent), Parellada (20 percent) and international Chardonnay (15 percent). This exquisite estate-grown Cava displayed a floral yeasty nose with gobs of citrus fruit flavors. It was a fine finishing touch to a great food and wine event. I want to thank Springfield Grille for an opportunity to talk with the knowledgeable Liam Kelly and learn fore about fine seafood and how it comes to our kitchen.

In late June, Rachel’s Westchester Restaurant hosted a Wine and Dine Ohio event featuring Ashtabula County’s outstanding Ferrante Winery. On hand for this tasting was Ferrante’s Jim Arbaczewski, who gave a knowledgeable talk on all the wines poured, and answered questions table-side for the entire evening.

I’ve sampled this winery’s offerings for many years, and they just get better every vintage. They work with estate-grown cool-climate grapes that provide fragrant, juicy wines that age amazingly well but are ready to drink immediately.

Our first wine was the award-winning 2011 Golden Bunches Dry Riesling GRV (Grand River Valley). Peachy citrus flavors lead to a long off-dry finish that worked nicely with Rachel’s delicious stuffed mushrooms for an opening treat.

Our next wine was Ferrante’s 2011 Signature Series GRV Pinot Grigio. This wine was awarded the “Best White Wine” at the American Fine Wine Competition in Boca Raton, Fla. Creamy pear and citrus flavors follow to a melon-tinged finish that worked wonderfully with Chef Steveo’s delicious Maryland crab cakes. Our next wine was the 2010 GRV Signature Series Chardonnay. This cool-climate beauty reminds me of great white Burgundy at a fraction of the cost. Coming in a 13 percent alcohol with crisp acidity, this tank-fermented Chardonnay (partially barrel aged) displays textbook Chardonnay fruit flavors with just a whisper of oak on the finish. The people that ordered Rachel’s signature shrimp Alfredo were very happy with this pairing.

Our only red wine at this summer event was Ferrante’s outstanding 2009 GRV Signature Series Cabernet Franc.  Juicy berry and red fruit flavors tinged with spice made this Chinon (Loire Valley, France) –style red a favorite with the people ordering the New York strip steak hot off Rachel’s grill.

Our last wine was Ferrante’s 2010 GRV Vidal Blanc. Lush peach and apricot fruit flavors led to a crisp off-dry finish that made this hybrid a real hit with the honey pistachio crusted salmon. This was a great event featuring wines from Ashtabula, served in a Mahoning County restaurant with diners from all over our Valley able to enjoy them so close to home. Wine and Dine Ohio is going to feature more local wineries at future tastings.

Next month, we will be at Stonebridge Grill and Tavern on Wednesday, Aug. 29 and on Tuesday, Sept. 18, we will be at Roberto’s in downtown Youngstown for a limited seating event featuring great food and wine.

At local store tastings, I found a number of unique and tasty wines for summer enjoyment. My first pick hails from the Cotes de Gascogne region of France. The 2011 Montgravet ($9.99 – Michael Charles Premier Wines, Elm Road) is produced from 100 percent Columbard grapes. Bright lemon and citrus flavors and a very refreshing finish will keep you coming back for more. This is one of the finest summer wines that I have tried this year, so stock up soon (try it with Thanksgiving turkey for a real change of pace).

If you’re looking for a tasty inexpensive Zinfandel for barbecues and grilling, give the Ivan Tamas Estate Zinfandel ($10.99 – Wine Styles of Howland) a try. Rich and jammy fruit flavors followed by a clean spice-tinged finish make this a great choice for barbecued ribs or chicken.

Dessert wines are a tough pick for summer drinking, but I found the Tomasello Winery Blueberry Dessert Red a real treat ($9.99 – Vintage Estate in Boardman). Off dry with blueberry flavors spilling out everywhere, this wine would be a real hit with vanilla ice cream.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive sparkling rose for summer toasting that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, give the Francois Montand Sparkling Brut Rose a try ($19.99- Michael Charles Premier Wine in Howland). Bursting with cherry and raspberry flavors, this crisp and dry bubbly finishes your favorite veal dish.

Charlie’s Fine Wines of Howland’s Mike Lapmardo will be teaching a wine class (“Enjoying Wine Intelligently”) through the Kent State University Trumbull branch. Classes will be held at the wine shop from 6-9 p.m. on the following Tuesdays: Sept. 18, 25, Oct. 2 and 9. Call the shop at 330-856-9463 or watch this column for more details to follow.

Also, next month I will report on Station Square Ristorante’s earning the acclaimed Wine Spectator’s Award Selection.

Wine and Dine Ohio’s upcoming tastings will be on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Stonebridge Grill and Tavern featuring Vintners Select wines; Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Roberto’s in downtown Youngstown; and Thursday, Oct. 4 at Salvatore’s Italian Grill in Howland.

To make a reservation or get on the email list for Wine and Dine Ohio event information, call 330-651-8676 and leave a message, or contact us through the Wine and Dine Ohio website (

Alberini’s in Niles will hold their Splendor in the Glass tasting on Sunday, Sept. 30. Second Harvest Food Bank will have abenefittasting 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7 at Stambaugh Auditorium

Other upcoming tastings include the Springfield Grille monthly wine dinner (call restaurant for date); Charlie’s Premier Wines of Howland, every Saturday; Wine Styles, every other week on Thursday, Friday and Saturday; Vintage Estate, third Saturday tasting; and Michael Charles Premier Wines on Elm Road, second Saturday tasting.

If your restaurant, shop or charity event is having an upcoming wine tasting, please email me a month in advance at  I look forward to seeing you at events around the Valley.

© 2012 The Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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