September 2014 Wine Guy: Cooler summer makes Valley wine tastes more enjoyable

By JOHN WEBSTER | Metro Monthly Wine Columnist

One benefit of a cooler summer is that it’s better wine-tasting weather, and there were many opportunities to try great wines at local tastings and restaurant dinners. Michael Charles Premier Wines on Elm Road held delicious dinner tastes at two lovely locales, the Trumbull County Country Club and the Youngstown Country Club. Boardman’s Springfield Grille held a unique “Farm to Table” dinner taste using locally produced meats and vegetables paired to delicious cocktails.

On July 11, Michael Charles Wines held their popular wine dinner at the Trumbull Country Club in Warren. The club’s executive chef, Joey Biello, and sous chef, Terry Mackey, prepared a fantastic dinner to go with Nick and Loretta Uroseva’s fine selection of wines.

A roasted tomato bruschetta topped with feta cheese was paired to a glass of Coviello Prosecco Brut DOC from the Veneto region of Italy for our first course.

Soft citrus and floral aromas paired nicely with sliced julienned salami and spicy bruschetta. A 2012 Greg Norman Chardonnay from California’s Santa Barbara wine region was selected to go with Chef Biello’s pan-seared scallops and mushrooms for our second entrée. Crisp citrus and pineapple flavors lead to a fresh clean finish that complemented the scrumptious scallops.

Our first red wine was a blend of California Pinot Noirs from Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Barbara counties. The 2012 Cherry Tart Pinot Noir displays rich bing cherry and strawberry flavors, pairing nicely with our third course wild mushroom risotto. The Victoria region of Australia is the source of our next red wine. French Rhone producer Michel Chapoutier’s 2011 Tournon Mathilda Shiraz is an outstanding example of what Australia has to offer. The barbecue pork tenderloin with pickled red onion was a great partner for the bold spicy unoaked Down Under Shiraz.

Our fifth and last course was marinated flank steak with Italian corn salsa. A spectacular 2011 Campagnola Ripasso Classico from the Veneto region of Northern Italy was paired to this spicy dish. Rich ripe cherry jam flavors and a long supple finish tinged with spice made this a wonderful pairing.

Michael Charles Wines and the kitchen and staff of the Trumbull County Country Club should be congratulated for one of the nicest tastings I’ve attended lately.

The wine shop hosted another fantastic dinner event on Aug. 22 at the Youngstown Country Club. Nick and Loretta Uroseva selected a fine group of wines to pair with the Club’s delicious entrees. Tasty wild mushroom pastry “purses” were paired to a 2011 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa for our first course. Lemony citrus flavors with a hint of melon produced a fine partner for the rich mouth-watering mushroom dish.

A crisp bright-tasting 2013 Chateau St. Jean Bijou Chardonnay (Bijou is French for “jewel”) made from central coast fruit was paired to fried cod fritters drizzled in lemon aioli sauce for our second course. The Bijou’s stony citrus flavors complemented the fluffy-textured cod fritters, producing a seamless partnership of taste and flavors.

Our first red of the evening was a 2011 Coste Mancini Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) from Italy. Medium-bodied with crisp berry fruit flavors, the Coste Mancini was delicious with its pairing of cappellini pasta laced with prosciutto and plum tomatoes.

Spicy lamb meatballs with Greek tzatziki (cucumber yogurt) sauce was paired to glass of Amador County’s 2012 Sobon Estates Zinfandel for our next course. Lush and full-bodied, this fruit-driven Zinfandel was outstanding with the tender flavorful meatballs. At $13.99 a bottle, this Zin should be on your buying list for harvest-time enjoyment.

Our final pairing of Kobe beef short ribs in a Cabernet reduction sauce with a side of creamy polenta was served with a glass of 2011 Revelry Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington’s Columbia Valley. Medium- to full-bodied, with textured red fruit flavors, this delicious smooth Cab was just perfect with the tender beef.

The Youngstown Country Club proved to be a beautiful setting for a great evening of wine and food, and thanks to everyone who made it a special night.

Springfield Grille of Boardman held a unique Farm to Table dinner taste with Adam Lee (The Sprouted Table) preparing a number of delicious entrees paired to refreshing mixed cocktails. Our first course was a charcuterie (butcher) board including potted Lamppost Berkshire pork and green tomato chutney with crostini (crisp bread), pickled scallions and more. A glass of Sour Cherry French Rose made with a Brut Rose bubbly and black currant liqueur was poured to go with this delicious course. This was a great pairing with the wine bringing out the unique flavors of the dish.

Smoked Lake Erie walleye tacos with summer relish was paired to a roasted blue basil margarita for our second course. The aromatic margarita was very refreshing with the  tasty walleye tacos drizzled with Snowville Creamery crème fraiche (smooth thickened heavy cream).  A farmer salad with grilled carrots, shaved turnips, zucchini, shallots, and greens with toasted walnuts was paired to a Lavender Bees’ Knees cocktail (rum, lemon juice and local honey). The aroma from this drink was wonderful with the tasty salad ingredients.

Our main course was dry rubbed skirt steak with black coffee and bourbon barbecue sauce atop grilled corn and Villa Maria new potatoes. This scrumptious dish was served with a large glass of Blackberry-Bourbon Iced Tea. The fork-tender skirt steak was perfect with the refreshing bourbon iced tea. A farm egg brioche (egg bread) with raspberry preserves and homemade Snowville Creamery custard was paired to a Raspberry Mule cocktail (vodka, raspberry liqueur and mulled raspberries) for our last entrée. The light fresh-made brioche was a perfect conclusion to a wonderful evening of fine food and drink.

A final note to our evening was the news that Springfield manager Tamela Carnhart is moving to the Springfield Group’s Hickory Grille in Pennsylvania to become their assistant general manager. We wish her lots of luck and we’ll check in with her shortly to see how she’s doing.

Last month’s local store tastings provided a number of great inexpensive wines. At Michael Charles Wines’ second Saturday taste, I sampled a 2013 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose. Dry yet fruity, this rose is a blend of mostly Grenache with smaller amounts of Syrah and Cinsault added. This delicious wine is perfect for outdoor summer dining and get-togethers.

Another great wine for summer grilling and barbecues is the 2012 Tarima Monastrell from the Alicante region of Spain. Produced from 100 percent Monastrell (France’s Mourvedre), it exhibits dark fruit and ripe plum flavors and finishes long with a hint of spicy nutmeg and cedar. If you are fond of big brawny Zins, you should give this red a try.

On July 19, Vintage Estate Wines in Boardman held a French wine taste. Two outstanding biodynamic wines from the Roussillon (Rivesaltes) region of Southern France really stood out. The 2012 Le Canon du Marechal White is a delicious blend of Viognier and Muscat. Pale gold and medium bodied, it exhibits apricot and citrus flavors and finishes bright and clean. At $8.99 per bottle, this is a real bargain for summer and fall drinking.

Le Canon Du Marechal also produces a fantastic red blend at $8.99. Their 2011 Biodynamic red is a tasty blend of Syrah and Merlot. Plummy dark red fruit flavors with a hint of spice lead to a lush clean finish that will make you think you’re sampling a much more expensive red wine.

As promised in last month’s column, I’ve got a couple of delicious wines from last month’s trade tasting in Cleveland to report on. My first wine was being poured at the Terry Theise portfolio tasting hosted by Vintner Select Wines at the Fire Food and Drink Restaurant. Gruner Veltliner is at home in its native Austria and the 2013 Nigl Gruner Veltliner Freiheit is a textbook example. Spicy upfront citrus fruit flavors and crisp finish will have you asking for more. This is a great change-of-pace wine from cookie-cutter Chardonnays.

If you’re looking for a great bubbly that won’t break your budget, give the Gelida Brut Reserva Rose a try. Pure Pinot Noir fruit flavors lead to a full clean finish that is amazing at this price point. The Gelida Brut Rose is a great party starter.

Last month, I traveled to the Gervasi Vineyards in Canton. Given the glowing reports I’ve heard from other area wine lovers, I was pleasantly surprised when the winery surpassed even my high expectations. Great food and excellent wines are available at numerous locations throughout the stunning grounds. I plan on returning soon and will give a complete report.

Upcoming events include Wednesday, Sept. 24, Springfield Grille dinner taste; Thursday, Sept. 11, Vernon’s Café in Niles is hosting an Italian Night; Friday, Oct. 24, Michael Charles Premier Wines dinner taste at Vernon’s Café in Niles; the Upstairs Restaurant’s Wine Down, third Thursday tasting; Charlie’s Premier Wines of Howland, every Saturday; Barrel 33 (formerly Wine Styles in Howland), 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

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