Archive for August, 2017

Final Prep

August 28th, 2017

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The 2017 harvest is fast approaching, probably only a week or so away from kick-off. Grape samples are being collected and analysed and the bodega is still being prepped (as we have been doing for the last few weeks now). As you will know, the biggest single chore was to finish the grape reception, which I am very happy to say is now complete. This will increase the available floor area by more than 50%, and so hopefully, this will relieve some of the congestion at peak times. “Vamos a ver” as they say in Spanish.

Not only do we now have to make sure that all equipment is spotlessly clean and tested before any single grape can enter, but we also have to re-organise a little in order to create additional space for working. At the top of our building our grape reception now has the new floor area, but on lower levels, stock, pallets and equipment is moved into adjacent areas that are not required during the harvest. In short, it leaves the bodega looking a bit chaotic (even if it’s not).

Out in the vineyards, everything is ready – grass between the vines is trimmed, and the grapes are entering the final phase of maturity. Samples taken so far are giving good indications regarding quality, and yields look just a bit higher than last year. As they say in the Boy Scouts – be prepared… and I think we are.

Posted in Bodega, Pre-harvest

Serious Eats

August 24th, 2017

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It’s rare that I simply copy and paste from another website, but I thought that this short article about albariño really hit the spot – not only does it provide a great description of our wine, but it also seems to capture the fresh, fun, ‘flirtaceous’ personality of the grape variety itself.

These few paragraphs are lifted from the ‘Serious Eats’ site.

“Summer’s warmer temperatures are a great time to enjoy a wine with lighter body, fresh flavors, and lots of juiciness that makes your mouth water. In other words, a perfect wine to go with summer snacks. Albariño is usually made without any trace of oak, and tends to have tons of great acidity. The combination means it’s flexible with food. The long zippy finish and playful nature of Albariño make it a natural flirt, happy to sidle up alongside a wide range of dishes.

The juiciness of the wine lends itself to cooling down the spiciness of Thai and Indian fare. Albariño’s lighter weight and flavors complement shellfish and grilled fish. Its freshness accents fresh garden produce beautifully. Enjoy it with fresh sliced watermelon—my favorite!

There has been a new rush of Albariño in recent years, with some really nice wines offering great quality fruit. This grape has strong roots in Portugal (they call it Alvarinho.) Its most affordable center of quality comes from its home, Spain. Look for Rías Baixas for a whole lot of yum.”

Posted in Tasting, Websites

We are officially back in the wine cellar today, and so, technically, I shouldn’t be posting any more holiday ramblings – but there was one more comment that I wanted to make about chefs, food and up-market restaurants. Give me my food on a plate please!

I remember back in the early 80’s when an English chef called Antony Worrall-Thompson opened a very trendy restaurant in Knightsbridge called Menage-A-Trois. Only starters and desserts were served – very small portions using highly imaginative food presentation – the technique then widely known as ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’. It was all the rage. Having said that, despite all the playing around, arranging the food on the plate to create a pretty picture, as far as I recall, it still tasted pretty good.

These days chefs continue to present food in creative ways, but then one of the latest trends might just be pushing the envelope a bit too far. Chefs are now using some very odd ‘platters’ on which to serve – and when I say platter, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything ceramic. It started with wooden boards and pieces of slate, but has now extended to plant pots, flooring panels, shovels, a dog bowl and even a shoe….. yes, I did say a shoe.

Apart from the obvious hygiene implications (that some of these materials are porous and therefore difficult to clean), my belief is that it’s all gone a bit to far, and in a way, chefs should get ‘back to basics’ – stay in the kitchen, make good tasty food and present it nicely… on a plate! Sometimes it’s all just too easy to get carried away, and lose focus on the real job at hand.

And for me, now, it’s back to work – just focusing on making great wine!

NO WORDS

August 18th, 2017

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THERE ARE NO WORDS…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tied to the stove?

August 16th, 2017

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What qualifies an individual to be known as a “celebrity” or a “star” these days? Not very much it would appear! When I was young (admittedly a long, long time ago), perhaps the only people to be considered as real stars were those who plied their trade in Hollywood, on the big screen.

It was Andy Warhol who once said “in the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes”…. but nowadays it doesn’t stop there. It seems that any person, talented or otherwise, who appears (even for just a few minutes on our television screens), is considered to be a celebrity, or perhaps the ‘star’ of that particular show.

I have noticed however, that the appetite for fame and notoriety can sometimes extend into other professions. Chefs for example. Obviously, the huge difference is that chefs have to work extremely hard, over many years to achieve their success, and that this is always based on their own individual talent and creativity. However, having achieved this success, then some of them chose to travel, write books, appear on TV series, almost appearing to abandon their own kitchens. So when a chef finally achieves the ultimate accolade of a Michelin star or two, then I ask myself, does the Michelin star(s) really belong to the establishment, or to the individual chef him or herself?

The truth is that I will pay almost any amount of money to experience great food and drink, but in an ideal world I would at least like to believe that the ‘celebrity’ chef might at least play some role in supervising my meal (probably not a very realistic wish in some top restaurants these days). A good analogy might be, going to a Broadway musical or play to see a major star and then discovering that his or her understudy is playing the lead role on the night you attend. The whole spectacle could probably be just as good, but the experience might not leave quite the same impression. Delegation or substitution does not always guarantee quite the same result.

Just add milk…

August 11th, 2017

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Talk about cutting it fine – on the last day before our very short summer closure, we are putting the final touches to the grape reception. This work started about three months ago, and perhaps if we had been working full time on it, would have been finished two months ago. Unfortunately we didn’t have the luxury of too much spare time in order to give this one task our full attention.

So all the tiles are laid (and what a difference that makes!), and now we are just adding the milk…. to be honest I’m not sure what the colloquial expression would be in the UK building trade, but here in Galicia, apparently, the cement that fills the gaps between the tiles is called the ‘milk’ (even though it’s dark grey). Whilst it’s true to say that this cement does have a very liquid consistency, it’s looks more like the thickness of double cream to me!

So, we are almost ready, albeit there is still a bit of re-organising to do when we come back to work, in a week or so. The August weather is a bit odd too. The month started with a couple of cloudy days with drizzle, but now it’s sunny, windy, and quite cool. For the last few days there has been a stiff breeze blowing, and whilst, during the day, it’s still warm enough to sit on the beach (mid-20’s °C – mid to upper 70’s °F), the evenings and nights have been quite chilly, indeed almost cold – down as low as 12°C (53°F). Obviously this will slow things down a bit, as far as fruit maturity is concerned, so instead of a harvest at the very beginning of September, it could well be delayed by a week or so. As always we’ll just have to wait and see.

Posted in Bodega, Pre-harvest

Missed it!

August 9th, 2017

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Last week was the Festa do Albariño, and this year I pretty much missed it completely! In previous years I have commented about excessive drinking, and even a naked guy in the middle of the tasting, but this year I’m not really sure what happened. Admittedly, I do usually steer well clear of the area (as large crowds of drunken people are not my thing), but then in the aftermath I do sometimes hear or read about some sort of outrageous activity that has taken place during the event. Of course it could be that nothing exceptional happened this year, and to be very honest, the only difference that I really noticed was a sharp increase in the road traffic heading in the general direction of Cambados (5km from our Bodega).

In recent years, since its inception, I have been a supporter of the tunnel of wine – up to 140 albariños under one roof, and therefore a great opportunity to taste in relative peace (the tunnel is located well away from the main festival area). Unfortunately this year, owing to ‘operational difficulties’ I was not able to attend.

So this post ends up being something of a rather boring, ‘no news’ report, but I guess this is marginally better than fake news!….

Posted in Fiestas, Wine Fairs

Heatwave?

August 5th, 2017

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For the last four or five days Lucifer has been sweeping across Europe (but don’t worry, I don’t mean that we have been overtaken by devil worship, it’s simply the nickname given to the recent spell of excessively hot weather). You may have read in the press or seen on TV that parts of Spain and Italy have been enduring temperatures of between 40 and 45°C (105-115°F). Severe weather warnings have been issued…. but not here in Galicia. The last couple of days here have been very, very grey and overcast (see photo) with long periods of drizzle, and temperatures of the low-to-mid 20’sC (70-75°F). This is not ideal weather for growing grapes, but at least the forecast is for improvement in the next day or so.

Just a quick anecdote on this subject if I may. The BBC was interviewing a British family on holiday in Cyprus, where the temperature had reached 43°C, and people had been advised to stay indoors during the afternoon. The interviewer asked what precautions the father had taken to protect his two young daughters, and I’m not sure if his response was typical British phlegm or just plain stupid – “we have put on sunscreen and are eating lots of ice cream.” In ‘Britspeak’ this means “I’ve paid for this sunshine, and by God, I’m going to enjoy it (whatever the possible consequences)!”

Posted in Pre-harvest, Weather

It’s been a while since I mentioned our grape reception, simply because the work had been placed on a back burner for a while as we completed other, more pressing jobs. As you may already know, this space is used exclusively during the harvest period and therefore our only objective is to ensure that the construction is complete before the end of August (harvest is anticipated for early September).

The final remaining chore is to finish the floor (or is that the wall?), with some heavy duty tiling – probably only a few days work, before we can then give the area a thorough cleaning.

I have to apologise for today’s photo, I couldn’t resist. It was just the way that David was studying the floor that gave me the idea to play with the angles a little. (Hopefully people might have a double-take when they’re browsing!)

Posted in Bodega, Pre-harvest