Visitors to our Bodega always ask us about the local climate and the effect that our proximity to the Ocean has on the weather. I always explain to them that on this extreme western edge we often experience weather systems that clip only this part of Galicia, missing the rest of the country completely. Indeed, many of these systems, carried across the Atlantic by the jet stream, actually end up over the UK, meaning that our climate is in some ways similar to my home country. Of course being further south it is obviously a little warmer here, but in terms of precipitation I really must sit down one day and calculate the actual difference. It’s probably not that big.
I regret to report that the rain is still falling as I write, and as I desperately study the weather maps in search of some respite, I have noticed that the current depression is quite literally only dumping rain on this small corner of the continent – nowhere else in Europe appears to have been touched. It seems like the weather Gods are conspiring against us, or maybe I’m just feeling badly done by…..
This screen grab is the weather forecast for Cambados (click to image to enlarge) – our most local weather station. With the picking due to start in just a few days we can only pray that it’s wrong….. The showers and downpours that we are experiencing at the moment are very, very localised – raining in one place and then completely dry only a few km away. Maybe we can dodge the worst of it.
You may have noticed the lack of entries on this site over the last few days, and that’s simply because we’ve been travelling – a quick flit over to New York. With only days left to run before over 2014 harvest kicks off Angela and I made a flying visit to New York City for the annual tasting of our importer. It’s always a bit of a dilemma, deciding whether we should abandon the bodega at such a critical moment, but in reality during the last few days before picking there’s actually not a lot to do, except sit and wait (assuming that all the preparation work in the cellar has been done – cleaning, testing equipment, ordering supplies etc.)
If the truth is known I think that we also have an alternative motivation for wanting to go to the States…. to opportunity to visit a big, vibrant city with the added bonus of a bit of ‘retail therapy’. Suffice to say that we always leave Galicia with an extensive shopping list in hand, and have to add at least one extra day to our trip to accommodate our spending!
So, now that we’re back it’s time to refocus, and get on with the serious business of making wine. Until today the quality of fruit has been looking quite promising, but as we move into the final days, the forecasts are not looking too good – we can only hope that they’re wrong.
One of the problems of running a small, family-owned bodega is that we all have to be very flexible in the many and varied rolls that we have to cover. Angela, for example, is not only our oenologist, but she is also our vineyard specialist (with degrees in both Biology and Viticulture) and also the administrator of the business. So the question arises, if you have an appointment with your solicitor in the morning, and then need to collect samples in the vineyard during the afternoon, what do you wear for work? Angela’s solution to this dilemma was simply a change of shoes – as you can clearly see in today’s photo! Now, it’s not uncommon these days to see celebs wearing shorts or dresses accessorised with oversized boots….. but a pair of wellies?! Who knows, this could be the start of a new trend.
On a more serious note, Angela was actually out collecting grape samples to check on the progress of our crop. She was quite pleased with her early analysis, albeit we still have a little way to go before the fruit will be ripe for picking. Perhaps another 10 days or so before we kick off the 2014 harvest.
On the ‘Side Dish’ blogsite in Dallas, Haley Hamilton Cogill posted a paragraph or two about Bodegas Castro Martin following her recent visit to Rias Baixas. She wrote about our Family Estate wine – “Castro Martin Albariño comes from their sand and granite-filled estate vineyards that average over 50 years in age and is fermented in stainless steel in their gravity-flow facility. The wine is aged on the lees for around 6 months which creates a nicely balanced and elegant wine filled with tree and stone fruit notes like peach, pear, and a touch of white flower and fresh herbs.” (Buy the way, if you do visit this page then please note that there is an error in the information – our current Bodegas was built in 1981 by Angela’s father, Domingo. He did not buy the bodega as the text suggests).
For the second time in the last month or two we were also recommended in the Chicago Tribune – this time under the wonderful headline “Sipping away the dog days of summer” (the expression ‘dog days’ refers to the final months of summer when the ‘dog star’ Sirius rises with the sun). It would appear that Bill St John at the Tribune has developed quite a taste for our Family Estate wine too – “Fragrant, juicy, crisply finishing; let it sop up the food”. Castro Martin was one of a dozen or so wines selected from around the world!
The first Monday of September, is Labor Day in the United States. Celebrated for more than 100 years, it was originally created as a tribute to the contributions and economic achievements of American workers. Traditionally the day would start with parades followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. In recent years however, there has been a change in emphasis, away from the parades and displays, more towards a day of fun and relaxation for the family. The most popular activities on Labor Day now include picnics, barbecues and perhaps even a few fireworks.
Of course nothing beats the traditional Labor Day burger-on-the-barbecue, but a fine ‘compliment’ might be a bit of seafood or perhaps even a serving of Maine Lobster (if you’re feeling particularly wealthy). This leads me neatly to the best possible wine recommendation – a chilled glass of Castro Martin albariño…..
Cheers – and have a great Labo(u)r Day!
We arrived at the Bodega yesterday morning to hear some quite devastating news – one of our Castro Martin team, Juan, had been badly injured in a traffic accident during the night. It is as yet, unclear exactly what happened except to say that, on the way home from his girlfriend’s house at about 12.30am, his car was involved in an accident. Ending up on it’s roof, we believe that he had to be freed from the vehicle by firemen and he was subsequently rushed to hospital in Pontevedra. He is currently in the ICU, and thankfully we don’t think that his life is in immediate danger, but he does have internal injuries, so it would be a little irresponsible to prejudge – at this time we can only pray for his complete recovery. He has also suffered a few fractured bones – wrist, arm, collar bone, breast bone, and a rib, and it is the chest injuries that are giving the cause for concern. Of course, there is nothing much that we can say, except that our thoughts are with both Juan and the rest of his family.
As if this wasn’t enough, to round off a very bad day, one of our tractors broke down on its way back to the bodega!
Our local D.O. office has just commissioned this short cartoon/video which is very nicely done – condensing our region’s wine making process into a brief story of only 2 minutes and 45 seconds (if only the real process were so simple). The only downside is that, at the moment, it is only available in Spanish, and so in the coming days I will try to find out if they are going to make an English version. The simple visuals might help you, even if you don’t speaka da lingo perfectimundo….. like what I do!
You can either click HERE to see the video, or alternatively go to the YouTube page on our website, where it is listed together with some other fun and informative shorts.
I am a keen amateur photographer, and undertake most of the photography needed for our business myself. OK, it might not be quite as professional, but I have to say that it saves quite a bit of money!
Probably the most difficult of all subjects to photograph is food – certainly if you want to make it look appetizing, it really is quite an art. There is a lot of ‘re-touching’ that goes on, both before and after the shot, but thanks to software such as PhotoShop it has now become slightly easier to achieve the required result.
Believe it or not, another difficult subject is wine, or more specifically the bottles – they are after all made of a reflective material and therefore getting the highlights and shadows exactly as you want them can become quite a challenge. Reflections can also be a problem, as proved in my most recent session.
Some of the bottle shots that I use on our website are done at home, on our terrace – I quite like the effect of the background image mirrored in the bottle. It makes the pictures just a bit more interesting, and also helps add a bit of colour….. or at least that is, until the washing on your clothes airer appears in the background (see today’s photo)! Despite looking closely at every possible detail – potential scuffs or marks on the bottle or label, lighting, shadows, focus, aperture etc., etc., I did not notice that part of the reflection in my latest series of shots was of our washing! Of course, it would have been possible to modify the image in Photoshop using a healing brush or clone tool but to do a good job is actually quite time consuming, and so, upon reflection (no pun intended), I opted to do the entire shoot again. I guess that’s why we sometimes need to call in the professionals.
Some of you may know that I go running along our local seafront every morning – the same route used by young people returning from our local bars and discotheques. On some days I actually encounter the revellers themselves but more often I simply encounter the trail of havoc that they leave behind. Broken glass, empty bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, emptied litter bins, broken plants and trees, and other things too unpleasant to mention. Each day our local council dutifully sends cleaners to gather up the debris, but unfortunately this carnage only leaves me with a feeling of despair….. nearly all of this misbehaviour is down to the effects of alcohol, and therefore only succeeds in damaging the reputation of our industry.
The specific reason that I feel compelled to write about this once again is that a Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Misuse, formed in the UK, is now calling for the calorie content and health risks associated with alcohol to be spelled out clearly on all wine and beer labels, in a similar style to cigarette health warnings. The group has also supported calls for a minimum price per unit of alcohol to be introduced to increase the cost of the cheapest drinks bought in supermarkets and off licences.
Unfortunately the ‘Botellon’ as it is known in Spain is fuelled by the Supermarkets, whereby drinking in bars and discotheques is supplemented by much cheaper alcohol purchased over the counter. I did read somewhere that on one of the recent Bullfighting weekends in Pontevedra (mentioned in a recent post) some 19 young people were admitted to our local hospitals with varying levels of alcoholic poisoning.
Of course, I doubt very much that these problems were caused by albariño, but unfortunately we simply find ourselves listed in the general category of alcohol, and most of the anti-alcohol lobby does not discriminate sufficiently between the different types. After all, I’m sure that the vast majority of us are quite responsible drinkers!
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