Alejandro Fernandez is the man who has done for Spain what Robert Mondavi did for Napa. He makes the most delicious wines from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain from the Tempranillo grape. That wine is a cross between a Pinot Noir and a Syrah. Luscious nose and pleasing on the tounge. He is most famous for his Tinto Pesquera wine which is all Tempranillo. We were so lucky to have him host this dinner, everything on top of it was just gravy. His wines were phenomenal... take for instance the Dehesa la Granja 2002 at one end of the spectrum exemplyifing the pinot aspects of the Tempranillo grape, and then the 2001 El Viniculo Reserva ... same grape.. but it totally tasted like a cabernet/syrah. There were 7 wines in all that night and it was a marvellous dinner. This was the first time I had ever eaten at Onotria in Costa Mesa (near the Lab).
Our first course was baked mussels with garlic, parsley and Spanish Pimento stuffed into the little mussel shells. OMG... was heavenly, and I could have eaten five pounds of that. There seemed to be a bread stuffing on top and the mussels were perfectly cooked and mixed with the red pimento. Gorgeous. On the same plate was a cevice (fresh bay shrimp) served with fennel. Marvellous. It paired perfectly with the Verdejo we had (Martinsancho Verdejo 2007). Verdejo is a lot like Sauvignon Blanc.. but a bit more fruity. Went great with the shrimp!
Next course was the ragout of porcini mushrooms and Chorizo over soft polenta; which was paired with the 2002 Dehesa la Granga. Honestly, I'm not a big fan of polenta, but this ROCKED. It was cooked perfectly, and the sauce to go with it went so well with both the polenta and the wine. I was soo happy.
Third course: Saffron rice with Zucchini blossoms, and veal sausage and butter beans. I could immediately smell the sausage and saffron... heavenly. This was paired with the El Vincul tinto Crianza 2004. Another Tempranillo but done in a different style. Again, it married well with the saffron rice and sausage.
Fourth Course, and this was killer: Braised Lamb loin with red wine and rosemary reduction over roasted eggplant vineyard pie. Let me explain what I had on my dish, and I Wish I had taken more pictures. First of all, the lamb was so tender, it was falling off the bone and we were cutting it with a fork. So lovely. The reduction sauce was scrumptious... a wine reduction, some hint of sweetness to it, but it went so well with the lamb and the wine... which was the 2005 Condado de Haza which was very approachable and American styled, but still went very well with the meal. Then there was this little pastry tart thing on my plate with tomatoes and eggplant, and that was truly delicious.
Our last entree was a plate of cheeses: some Manchego (similar to Parmesan in texture but not as robust) and another cheese called Cabrales... OMG which one of my dining companions described as bleu cheese on steriods. Yes indeed! Also on the plate were some toasted whole almonds drizzled in honey. This was all served with the last wine, the El Vinculo 2001. Which was a luscious, opulent, hedonistic wine, and went perfectly well with our cheeses.
I was a happy camper definitely. I wish my camera had not malfunctioned... damn! But hope you enjoy the pictures I was able to take. The owner of Onotria, Massimo Navarretta, was kind enough to come out and say hello, and the rest of the evening we spent in a Q&A session with Mr. Fernandez. Truly an amazing night!
Onotria Wine Country Cuisine
2831 Bristol, Costa Mesa Ca., 92626
Phone: (714) 641-5952
for the wines of Alejandro Fernandez: