Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mmm-mm-M Cellars

I'm a wine drinker, and I enjoy discovering new bottles and vineyards just as much as I like to sip on old favorites. I'm also a bit of a locavore and will go out of my way to get meat, fruits, vegetables and products made locally over imported or national brands. With that in mind, I was all for the 40-minute drive to check out M Cellars in Geneva at their last wine dinner.

Every month, owners Matt and Tara Meineke host a catered five-course meal paired with their wines. Nearly all of the grapes are grown on the 13-acre property that's about 10 minutes south of Lake Erie, including riesling, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay (among others).

Slightly stiff-legged, I parked the car and crossed the large gravel lot to the front door of the 5-year-old winery. The air smelled of Concord grapes, though M Cellars doesn't grow any themselves. (There are five other vineyards within a 2-mile radius of M Cellars, so it makes a great place to winery-hop.) The interior is beautiful, new and bright, with lots of natural wood accents and stone. Up a wide, short set of stairs lies the dining room, where 30 or so couples were seated.

Dinner was catered by Bob Sferra's Culinary Occasions, featuring lots of fall flavors such as sweet potato, pecans, beets, radicchio and apple-cranberry stuffing.

First course: sweet potato and olive pizza; paired with Cuvee
(a white blend of Chardonnay and pinot noir)
Second course: Stuffed roasted beet with Mackenzie Creamery goat cheese
and smoked pulled pork; paired with a dry rose wine
Third course: Fingerling and roasted corn salad and grilled radicchio;
paired with Rkatsiteli, a dry white varietal
Fourth course: Chicken roulade with apple-cranberry stuffing, chicken confit and
roasted Brussels sprouts; paired with smoky pinot noir
Dessert: Almond-mascarpone cheesecake with apricot compote and pistachio glaze;
paired with a late-harvest Traminette

The food was good even if the portion sizes were slightly on the small side. And overall, the wine was excellent. Even though I'm beginning to expect high-quality wines from local markets, it's still a surprise to see what Ohio growers are doing with the short growing season. What surprised me the most, however, was learning about an entirely unfamiliar type of wine: a dry, white wine that's slightly tart with notes of anise, vanilla and pineapple called Rkatsiteli. It's one of the oldest varieties of grapes in history, with archaeological evidence that it was grown in Georgia more than 3,000 years ago. Despite that, I can't recall ever coming across it on a restaurant wine list.

The Rkatsiteli wasn't my favorite of the evening — that goes to M Cellars' smoky pinot noir, which is perfect for red wine lovers. But I will be seeking it out elsewhere in the future (if I can remember how to pronounce it, "rkah-tsee-tely"). And I'm hoping for another visit out to M Cellars at the next opportunity. They've only got a few years under their belt, and I'm looking forward to seeing what develops as they mature along with their vines. 

The next dinner is this Friday, November 14 and is wild game-themed. See the menu below. Call 440-361-4104 to make reservations. 

M Cellars Fall Flavors  & Game Dinner
Friday November 14th, 2014
Event Time 6:30 - 9:30
$145 Couple, plus tax and gratuity(prepaid/reservation only)

Passed Small Bites
Goat Cheese and Fig Bruschetta
Cocktail Meatball and Roasted Tomato Skewer

Plated Dinner
First Course
Warm Cream of Watercress Soup
Roasted Chestnut and Herbed Crema
Paired with Chardonnay

Second Course
Venison Backstrap Medallion, Parsnip Puree
Sour Cherry Gastrique
Paired with Pinot Noir

Third Course
Smoked Trout Vol au Vont, Pickled Red Onion, Balsamic Reduction
Paired with Dry Rose

Fourth Course
Braised Rabbit Ragout, Wild Mushroom Cream
Herbed Spaetzle, Braised Fennel and Fennel Fronds
Paired with Meritage

Wine Poached Ying & Yang Seckel Pears
Citrus and Star Anise Anglaise
Cocoa Pizelle
Paired with Dry Riesling

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