All this happened on a sunny terrace at Mondrian Los Angeles. The wines were choice picks from La Mancha, Spain, on tour in the U.S. The food, from the hotel restaurant Herringbone, offered enough variety so you could play at wine and food pairing, matching a white with beef tenderloin (above) and switching to a Tempranillo, Bobal or Petit Verdot if the white didn't work.
The tenderloin was almost hidden under crispy shallots, roasted onion and blue cheese. My pick with it was Tomillar Reserva 2008, a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Tempranillo from Virgen de las Viñas (above). Rounded and full, it did better than the lighter Tomillar Crianza 2009, which was all Tempranillo.
(If you're not familiar with Spanish wine terms, a crianza ages naturally for a couple of years and then spends at least 6 months in the barrel. A reserva ages for two years in the bottle, then 12 months or longer in the barrel.
As the beef cooled off and became more like a salad, a white wine made a good match. This was rich, fruity Campechano Vino Blanco Joven from Santa Catalina, made 100% from the grape Airén.
If you like fruity Sauvignon Blancs, you might consider Airén for summer drinking. The one on display in the photo at the top is Ojos Del Guadiana Airén Joven 2013 from Bodegas El Progreso, which I liked with roasted fingerlings (above).
Another Spanish white grape to think about is Macabeo. Santa Catalina's Los Galanes Vino Blanco Joven, made 100% from Macabeo, was almost like an oaky young Chardonnay. It was good with monkfish lightened up with dried cherries, almonds, orange, rosemary and smashed cauliflower (above).
Kale salad with cheese, nuts and marinated pear slices (above) was delicious, although not an easy match for wine. An organic red, Espanillo Tempranillo Ecologico 2013 from Bodegas San Antonio Abad, took a stab at it but did better with the beef.
Another good beef wine was Vega Demara Crianza 2012, a Tempranillo with a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon. Vega Demara's display (above) offered two white wines, both Verdejos. The rest were Tempranillos.
Also put on your list Viento Aliseo Tempranillo-Petit Verdot 2013 from Dominio de Puctum, not just because it's a biodynamic wine but because it's full of flavor, a really delicious red.
There were cheeses too and rich little cakes to pair with a sweet Tempranillo, Dulce Tentatione by Gazate 2013, from Vinícola de Tomelloso. The wine wasn't sweetened with cane sugar or syrup but with natural sugar extracted from the grapes, which intensified the wine flavor.