Photo by Tara Stevens
Corral del Obispo
On Friday evening I passed by my local bodega (Celler Florida, C/Floridablanca 112 92 325 8604) as Evilio had told me there’d be a lot of new wine in after the summer. Fortuitously he’s also looking to the cheaper end of the market though not for reasons you’d first expect. Ah, yes, “la crisis” says I. Well not quite says he. I just think that the cheaper wines are the more interesting at the moment. As such he’s got the stock rolling in, and I’ll be sipping and slurping these over the coming weeks.
Corral del Obispo is interesting in the fact that its part of a co-operative called Viñedos Singulares who are teaming up with wineries all over the country to make interesting, good value wines generally for under €10. The label is a distinctive illustration of eye-popping flowers in shades of violet, Mediterranean blue, and gold, with linear farm animals. It should get accolades for design alone. But what’s in the bottle?
Evilio and I cracked it open together in the bodega. In the glass it’s a deep, dark purple with strong violet hues. Think Ribena and you get the general idea. On the nose though it was totally closed – wine speak for not being able to smell much at all – smelling mainly of alcohol (well it’s 14 percent, so no real surprise there on such a young wine), and in the mouth rather green but with some serious acidity that got my mouth watering right away. My immediate thought was steak, medium rare, to balance it out a bit.
Evilio seeing this immediately suggested I take it home, let it open up a bit and see what I thought on a second run. He also suggested bringing it down a couple of degrees so I put it on the balcony. An hour later, air had begun to work its magic. It was still a bit full on, but definitely rounder and I was getting white pepper, mulch of autumn forest floor and lots of warmth. It was not at all unpleasant but crying out for food. The smoked salmon and rocket salad I’d been planning wouldn’t stand a hope in hell against mencía – a no-nonsense grape at the best of times—so I reworked it and came up with a salad of lollo rosso, spinach, kumato tomatoes, jamón and Roquefort with some rye bread on the side. It wasn’t perfect but it did the trick.
The wine by now had opened up even more giving me damsons on the nose, sloes in the mouth. Still, this kind of autumnal salad, especially the salty creamy Roquefort bring out what little fruit there is. I still say try it with a steak, but since this works I’m thinking a very versatile wine for very little money. It's not for everyone, definitely not for lovers of the "fruit bomb" but if you like a little herbaceousness and a lot of character this might just do it for you. Just remember to get it open at least two hours before you pour. In the interests of research I had a little glass as I wrote this the following day. What can I say. Drink it slow and it gets better and better.