October 2013 Wine Guy

Michael Alberini (Michael Alberini’s Restaurant) with Christine Lapmardo, Loretta Uroseva and Nick Uroseva of Michael Charles Premier Wines at the wine store’s August dinner taste. Electronic image by John Webster.

Michael Alberini (Michael Alberini’s Restaurant) with Christine Lapmardo, Loretta Uroseva and Nick Uroseva of Michael Charles Premier Wines at the wine store’s August dinner taste. Electronic image by John Webster.

By JOHN WEBSTER | METRO MONTHLY WINE COLUMNIST

The Valley provided a number of end-of-summer wine and food events, plus many fine store tastings. On Aug. 23, Springfield Grille held a great tasting featuring local foods and wine, while Michael Charles Premier Wine and Beer of Warren hosted a wonderful tasting at Michael Alberini’s Restaurant in Boardman on Aug. 24. This was my first Michael Charles dinner taste, and I was very impressed with their selection of wines and food pairings.

Upon arrival, guests were presented a glass of Dominio Dela Pesata Cava NV and escorted to their seats. Plates of delicious grilled bruschetta were brought out to start our dinner. The bright lemony-lime flavors of the non-vintage Pesata was just right for the tomato and grilled eggplant bruschetta.

Our second course of seafood ceviche (laced with Spanish gazpacho) was served with a glass of 2012 Zenato Pinot Grigio from the Della Venzie region of northern Italy. Citrusy peach flavors and a crisp clean finish complemented the tangy ceviche.

Our first red wine of the evening was Gerard Bertrand’s 2011 Reserve Speciale Pinot Noir from the Pay D’Oc region of France. Nicely balanced with berry fruit flavors tinged with spice and tobacco, it was delicious with Alberini’s penne pasta prepared with redskin potatoes, green and yellow beans, and pine nut pesto. Gerard Bertrand makes a complete line of both white and red wines from the south of France, and I can recommend them all for upcoming fall and holiday entertaining.

Coconut curry Moroccan leg of lamb over jasmine rice and a hearty glass of Powers 2010 Merlot from the Columbia Valley region of Washington was our next pairing. Michael Alberini’s kitchen prepares, in my opinion, the Valley’s best lamb, and this cool climate Merlot’s ripe cherry and plum flavors balanced perfectly with this signature dish. The fifth and final course presented was medallions of filet mignon drizzled with beurre noisette (a butter sauce) and wild mushrooms. To complement this rich tasty entrée, a glass of 2010 Harmony Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California was poured. Bold yet refined red fruit flavors led to a textured smooth finish that worked nicely with the delicious filet mignon.

I want to compliment Michael Alberini and staff, and Michael Charles owners Nick and Loretta Uroseva and store manager Christine Lapmardo for a great evening of food and wine. The next Michael Charles dinner taste will be held at Vernon’s Restaurant in Niles on Friday, October 18. I hope to see you there.

The next tasting I attended was at the Springfield Grille. Along with Lisa Bundy of Vintage Wines, they held a blind tasting (where the labels of wines are revealed at the end of the evening) featuring local produce and meats from the Mahoning Valley. The local fare was paired to wines from California, France, and Chagrin Falls (yes, Chagrin Falls, Ohio).

Our first course was a vegan paillard (vegan polenta with fire-grilled vegetables) made from local produce. With this summery dish, a glass of 2011 Morgan Sauvignon Blanc from Monterey California was served. A delicious blend of 90 percent Sauvignon Blanc and 10 percent Semillon, it exuded bright sweet grass-tinged citrus flavors that complemented this vegan dish.

Our next course was locally acquired pork belly, lettuce, and heirloom tomatoes set atop a brioche drizzled with date aioli and fontina cheese. The wine chosen for this dish was a Chateau Revelette Rose from the Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence region of France. Fresh up-front berry fruit flavors are this rose’s main feature, and it works wonderfully with this type of entrée.

A tableside-prepared curried peach and nectarine salad drenched in yogurt dressing was our next entrée, with a 2012 Rutherford Ranch Chardonnay from Napa Valley chosen for this bold-tasting salad. Rich and creamy pear and citrus-tinged melon flavors complemented the rich flavorful fruit salad.

Our main entrée was the French classic, coq au vin (chicken in a reduced wine sauce) The Springfield version is served over a bed of walnut-laden quinoa. I was very happy to see a Joseph Drouhin 2011 Beaujolais-Villages was chosen to go with this dish. Joseph Drouhin produces one of the Beaujolais region’s finest village-style (mixture of blends) reds. Ripe yet lush berry fruit flavors were just the answer for this classic French dish. This food-friendly French red should be on your “to buy” list for the upcoming fall season.

To round out the selection of wines from around the globe, our last wine brought us back home to Auburn Oaks Winery in Chagrin Falls. Their Maple and Vine is a unique blend of Ohio Riesling, Vidal, Traminette, and Vignoles grapes with a dollop of pure maple syrup from local producers. This is one of the finest infused wines I’ve ever sampled. It was served with Zabaglione made with local berries and figs, drizzled with chilled -Crown Royal maple custard cream sauce in a chocolate cup. This was a pairing made in heaven, but the Maple and Vine should work well with many other dishes or just by itself.

This was a wonderful event, and I want to thank Vintage Wines’ Lisa Bundy and the Springfield Grille for a great evening.

On Sept. 19, I attended the Octo-Brew Fest at the Shepherd Event Center in Boardman. Organized and hosted by Vintage Estate Beer and Wine and Magic Tree Restaurant, it featured 30 different “firkins” (small casks of beer) and seasonal food from local farms.

My first stop was at the Bell’s Brewery (Kalamazoo, Mich.) table for a sample of their Midwestern Pale Ale. Medium gold in color, it offers creamy hop-tinged flavors with a hint of citrus on the finish. It was very refreshing with the kielbasa from The Sprouted Table food vendor.

My next stop was at Pittsburgh’s Full Pint Brewing table for a sample of their Night of the Living Stout. Full-bodied with a rich creamy texture, this cool-weather brew should be just right for upcoming fall food and beer get-togethers.

I stopped by the Dandelion Lane Farm (Leetonia) table and sampled their tart cherry jam. Deep, tart cherry fruit flavors just exploded in my mouth, and I was astounded at how long the flavors lasted. They feature a complete line of jams and jellies with some sugar-free offerings. Thanks to Phill and Sandy Reda for an entertaining show of locally grown foods matched to fall beer offerings.

On the local wine store front, I recently found several nice wines to recommend to you. From Vintage Estate Beer and Wine in Boardman, I sampled a glass of 2012 Frisk Riesling ($10) from Australia. Slightly off-dry with a touch of refreshing effervescence, this is a lovely wine that you will never tire of. Fresh locally obtained fruit would be a great partner for this Australian white.

Over at Michael Charles Wines on Elm Road in Warren, they were pouring the 2010 Tarrica Petite Sirah ($13.99) from Paso Robles. If you’re looking for a tasty red wine for late season grilling, give this great bargain a try. Deep red in color with lush cherry and plum flavors, it finishes with spicy notes and a hint of toasty oak. Grilled chicken or gourmet burgers would be a great partner for this value-priced California red.

Upcoming wine events include Monday, Oct. 7, beer dinner taste and Tuesday, Oct. 15, wine dinner taste at the Springfield Grille; and Friday, Oct. 18, Michael Charles Premier Wines tasting at Vernon’s Restaurant (call the Michael Charles wine shop for details). Regularly scheduled tastings include Upstairs Restaurant’s Wine Down, third Thursday tasting; 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 (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 jmwineguy@gmail.com.

© 2013 Metro Monthly. All rights reserved.

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