Thursday, 29 August 2013

Corsican Intermezzo: Gaspa Mora

So the summer break finally comes to an end, we return from Corsica and the South of France to a house smelling like a bale of dirty hockey socks and with the back garden full of mouldering spoil from the walnut tree, and our tans wash off instantly under the shower, and there is no milk in the fridge because we forgot to get some on the way back, and what have we learned?

FACT: There are more Italians in southern Corsica in August than there are Italians in Italy.

FACT: Corsican main roads are only a metre wide, but will expand magically so that a peloton of cyclists, a campervan and two terrified Brits in an unsuitable hire car can simultaneously occupy the same space and gaze out over the sea which is a 200-metre vertical drop just below them.

FACT: I saw no-one with a thick black bandit moustache, nor a knife tucked into his boot; but the road signs are worryingly (by British standards) peppered with bullet-holes.

FACT: One of the more popular Corsican wines (and there are plenty to choose from) is actually called Gaspa Mora and this is perfectly true. Just look at the photo and tell me I'm lying.

Let's pause there and ask, How do I know about Gaspa Mora?

The usual way.

After all, once you've unpacked your stuff and discovered that you've brought conditioner with you instead of suntan cream and that your Kindle charger has been left at home, what do you do but head off to the nearest LeClerc or SuperU for some wonderfully affordable grog? And what do you then discover but that Corsica, far from being a sweltering lump of rock covered in deadly maquis and members of the French Foreign Legion doing parachute jumps, is actually verdant and surprisingly fertile? Wines and award-winning cheeses litter the place, among the former a nice Réserve du President red (see photo) and an even nicer Vermentino/Chardonnay mix called Terraza (ditto), neither of them, I'm half-remembering, coming in at over five Euros a bottle.

But the clincher is the Gaspa Mora, which not only has the best name of any wine I have ever come across - I mean, have you ever heard of anything so candid, so direct, in its appeal? - but is available in red, white and pink, and, astoundingly, comes in at about three Euros, depending on which supermarket chain you visit.

What does it taste like? Pretty good, if the conditions are right. I tried the red and the white, and having steeled myself for something unthinkable (especially vis-à-vis the white) was pleased to find that the red was anonymously velvety with no major side-effects, while the white was simply anonymously wine-like as long as it was kept shrouded in a chilly autumnal dew, which meant dashing back and forth to the fridge an awful lot.

A quick Google back at base subsequently reveals that what I was drinking was Nielluccio - whatever that is - plus Merlot in the red; and straight Vermentino in the white, which came as a slight surprise as I associate Vermentino with something more vegetable than the vague floral impressions left by the Gaspa, but still. Both red and white have that easy-drinking dosser's quality that I look for nine times out of ten on the supermarket shelf, and both stayed fresh to the bottom of the bottle, despite several days of on-off usage.

I also find that Gaspa seems to be confined to the narrow shores of Corsica itself, with no chance of a breakout in the near future. I guess they don't make enough to export, and perhaps one shouldn't be sad that they don't: these holiday relationships rarely work out. I would hate the name of Gaspa Mora to be compromised by rough handling, UK taxation and insensitive in-store promotions. I would also hate the label - gilt and a kind of faux-marbre, like a Beverly Hills bathroom - to be given a calming graphical makeover for the Northern European market.

And now I think about it: what kind of clientele would it attract - over here - with a name like that? No, no. It wouldn't do. File it under, I don't know, One-time Instant Nostalgia, and be grateful that I had the relationship at all. Just me, the sunset, and the Gaspa.

CJ






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