You find the Cork bar in Pozas, a popular section of downtown Bilbao. It is both a pintxos (Basque tapas) bar, and a wine bar that concentrates on good wines, most often organic and very natural, both local and national, and the by-the-glass menu is written on a cardboard. You have to stand, and it’s easy to find nice and educated (if that’s what you want) people to talk to. There is no TV blasting, if there is one at all.
There is a lot of cork and wood in the interior, almost resembling a bodega building.
Jonathan García (Basque sommelier champion of 2011) is running the place with a lot of passion and dedication, and his mother is responsible for the many delicious, well-prepared bites. One is the house pintxos, empanada casera de bonito, empanadas with the bonito fish. There are many cheeses and hams to choose from too. I visited one busy January night.
Mónica operating a Coravin
From the by-the-glass offer I chose Blan. 5.7 2014, a fruity and grapey orange wine made from the macabeo grape by Celler Jordi Llorens in the Barcelona province. To accompany this wine Jonathan picked a pintxo of bacalao and tomato with browned onion and some herbs.
Among the rest were the pure and flowery La Bruja Avería 2014 (Comando G), a favourite from the Gredos mountains, a wonderful example of Mallorcan Château Paquita, (Sistema Vinari), and the Mas de Gegant 2013 of Joan Ramón Escoda in Conca de Barberà, Catalunya
On the house, an unfortified “sherry” Ube 2013. This is one of the many interesting projects from these “fortified quarters”. This is a great wine from the Las Vegas vineyard (part of the Carrascal pago) with albariza soil near Sanlucar, made of three different clones of palomino (mostly palomino fino 73%). It’s chalky-mineral, has a touch of petrol and a rich, powerful palate. It’s fermented in the botas (sherry barrels), clocking in at 11% alcohol.
Yes, we are in the Basque Country. But no, there are no stars here. Readers will have noticed that I couldn’t care less. Here there is an ample selection of wines, the bites are good, the waiters have knowledge about them and a personal touch.