This blog is about wine, and I’ll try to keep it that way. However, wine isn’t just fermented grape juice and I’ll never just talk solely about what comes out of the bottle. I firmly believe that wine should be consumed within context; a meal, an event, your emotional state, or terroir. I have found this to be true many, many times: If you allow the wine to talk, it will tell you the story of the land it is from. This might seem silly if you view wine only as a beverage. If that is the way you feel, may I suggest coke or water, it certainly would be cheaper.
With this wine, the story (context) might outshine the wine. You might think that means the wine isn’t that great, but that is not the case. Perhaps we have a really good story, or maybe I’ve become a better story teller.
The wine is Pamela Geddes’s El Campeador 2012 from Jumilla, Spain. Pamela is Scottish by birth, and began her career making Scotch Whisky. There’s a surprise! She fell in love with wine and moved to South America, then Australia, before finally owning her own vineyard in Spain.
The wine is a tasty blend of Syrah, Monastrell, and Petit Verdot. The color of the El Campeador is inky black. We’ve talked about Monastrell, Mourvedre for the Frankophiles before in Griffy on Wine. I really enjoy its smooth velvety texture and dark fruit flavor. The Petit Verdot adds spice to the mix. The aroma was very firm black fruit and a hint of vanilla.
The name of the wine “El Campeador” comes from Spain’s nation folk hero, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. We in America know him better as El Cid! Rodrigo lived from 1043 to 1099. He was called El Cid (the Lord) by the Muslims and El Campeador (the Champion) by the Christians. He fought for and against both Muslims and Christians. He was a nobleman from Castile, served in the court of King Ferdinand the Great, and was both the commander and royal standard bearer for Ferdinand’s son Sancho. El Cid lead military campaigns against Sancho’s brothers and Muslims in Andalusia. He became famous for his victories in these campaigns while he enlarged Castilian territory at the expense of the Muslims. In 1072 Sancho died suddenly from a bad case of murder, so Alfonso, Sancho’s only heir, came to power and exiled Rodrigo.
He went to work fighting for Muslim rulers against other Muslims and their Christian allies. He also defeated the Almoravids from North Africa. In 1092, the Almoravids returned and instigated an uprising that resulted in the death of Rodrigo’s friend and benefactor, al-Qadir, in Valencia. He laid siege to Valencia and took control of the city in 1094. Rodrigo established an independent principality around Valencia. A pluralistic state that enjoyed popular support of both Christians and Muslims, this was El Cid’s greatest accomplishment.
He fought against the Almoravids for the rest of his life. He was never defeated by them, but his son and only heir, Diego, was killed in a battle in 1097. El Cid died in 1099. His wife ruled Valencia until 1102 when she surrendered to the Almoravids.
By 1147 it was all over for the Almoravids. Combined forces under Alfonso of Castile and the king of France forced them out of Spain. They were the medieval ISIS, their name meant “ one who is trying” or literally “one who is ready for battle at a fortress.” They didn’t retreat, they fought to the death, never surrendering.
Which makes me wonder, where is our El Cid? Where is our El Campeador? Who is going to step up and take their place in history and bring Christians and Muslims together and stop this stupid fighting to the death.
Do yourself a favor get the movie El Cid starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren. Then grab a bottle–make that two bottles, it’s a long movie–of Monastrell, the wine of Valencia, and watch a movie where leaders know what the hell they were doing.