The recent gathering of Scott Joseph’s Supper Club at Oceanaire Seafood Room at Pointe Orlando turned out to be one of the best yet. The Oceanaire team was uber accommodating, the food was outstanding, and the wines, presented by winemaker David SamPedro, who was visiting Central Florida from Spain. He presented his Cortijo, Calma and El Brozal labels. Our friends from Vibrant Rioja were partners in this Supper Club.
SamPedro (shown above) is considered one of Rioja’s emerging young winemakers, and he has a fun attitude, as evidenced by his outfit, which featured a t-shirt with Curious George wearing a cowboy hat on the front.
We started with a reception in an area near the bar with Wellfleet oysters and SamPedro’s 2011 Cortijo Blanco. This was one of my favorite pairings of the evening. The Cortijo is 100% viura grapes and is aged without oak, so the tropical fruit flavors are crisp and clear. The oyster was plump and had just the slightest salinity. But that taste of salt with the crisp, fruity wine was a knockout. It was to SamPedro, too, who admitted that he had never tried an oyster with the wine.
Following the reception, we gathered in the Oceanaire’s private dining room for the first course of spicy tuna poke, which was paired with the 2010 Cortija Rosado, a 50/50 blend of tempranillo and garnacha. As its color would predict, the wine had wonderful hints of strawberries and red cherries on the nose and dry herbs on the palate, a combination that went well with the wasabi and sriracha creme that dressed the tuna, which was served on a wonton crisp.
The second course turned out to be an around-the-room crowd pleaser. Steamed P.E.I. mussels were served with roasted chorizo in a coconut-curry broth -- absolute heaven. The food, by the way, was under the direction of Oceanaire’s executive chef, Jairo Mejia, and sous chef Mario J. Caraballo. A 2010 Cortijo Tinto, made with 80 percent tempranillo and 20 percent garnacha, was paired with the mussels. It was a full-bodied wine, with lots of black cherry and raspberry notes that stood up to the richness of the mussels’ broth.
Before dinner, when I was showing SamPedro the menu, he came to the third course and his eyes widened. “You got the 2009 El Brozal Blanco!” he said with surprise. The wine is a blend of five local grapes from a single vineyard of 3.2 acres in the town of El Villar in Rioja Alavesa. As you might imagine, the production is low and the wine is hard to find. But we had it for Supper Club! And pairing it with Oceanaire’s Mediterranean bronzini was masterful. The mild flavored fish, served with a tapanade of olives and sundried tomatoes, was just right with the wine. It was a bit cold out of the bottle, but as it warmed, the wine showed tastes of tropical fruits and hazelnuts and had a delightful and lingering finish.
The cheesecake (which was described as mini on the menu, which prompted me to wonder what sort of monster the regular slice would be) was paired with the 2008 Calma, but -- no offense to the winemaker -- I don’t think anyone in the room gave a hoot what wine it was served with. The groans for the creamy cheesecake spoke volumes.
I was especially pleased with the serving staff at Oceanaire. Anyone who has read more than two of my reviews knows that I’m a stickler for good service. I didn’t see one misstep the entire evening. Kudos to the entire staff.
Here’s another chance for you to taste some of Oceanaire’s food with the wines of Vibrant Rioja. On May 31, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., the restaurant will offer five stations of Spanish tapas paired with Rioja wines. Cost is $65 per person, which includes tax and gratuity -- and you can valet park for free right outside Oceanaire’s door!
For reservations, call the restaurant at 407-363-4801. This is not an official SJO event, but I’m sure to see you there.
Oceanaire Seafood Room is at 9101 International Drive, Orlando.