Shiba SommelierIt’s not often that you come across a canine sommelier, and before you ask, no, I’m not taking any substances! This week we have our first tasting note from a Japanese Shiba Inu who lives in New York (with his wine-loving human companions). Shiba was kind enough to rate our A2O albariño as 4 bones out of 5 and commented: “Hehe, I need some food with this Albariño! Nice, gentle nose of pears, lemon, and white stone. Tiniest touch of salinity on the palate with lovely white pear, lemon, and stone notes. Nice acidity. Not the saltiest of Albariños but would pair excellently with some gambas! 

For more extraordinary dog ‘tails’, please visit Shiba’s very own website!

Posted in Press, Unbelievable

CyberFor the last couple of days I’ve been having my own personal cyber-crisis. For no apparent reason my laptop decided to throw a fit, and to stop loading programmes (‘programme not responding’). Of course the immediate reaction is to retrace all recent keystrokes (and any updates) to see if you’ve done something wrong. Unfortunately I found nothing obvious, and a system scan for corrupted files revealed nothing either (and only succeeded in wasting the best part of a day to carry out).

Consequently I am now studying all sorts of forums and websites trying to sift out the useful advice, and systematically working through the suggested fixes. It all takes time and patience, and does not really help to sell wine! I will soldier on….

Recycling revisted

January 23rd, 2015

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green-recycling-iconOf course bottles, paper and carton have a comparatively simple journey through the recycling chain, whereas plastics are a bit more complicated. If I understand it correctly it’s only the ‘hard’ plastics that can be recycled anyway (not the plastic wrappers as I am always reminding Angela). This means that most of the materials that we use in our bottling will be born again, which only really leaves the closure.

For some time now (over ten years) we have been using Nomacorc which is made from low-density polyethylene, classified as food-grade No. 4  recyclable plastic. On face value therefore, there should be no problem simply throwing all your Castro Martin closures into the plastic recycling, except for one fundamental problem – they are simply too small. Most modern recycling plants have sorting grates, where the smaller items fall through, end up on the floor, and end up being used as landfill. It’s a real waste considering they could be ground into pellets and reformed as food trays, computer hardware, phone cases, floor mats or any number of things. In some parts of the world there are collection points for these closures so that they are not wasted, but unfortunately I don’t really see that happening any time soon in our small corner of the world.

I should finally mention that our closures can also be re-used as pencil ‘erasers’ (please note that I did refrain from calling them ‘rubbers’ which could have caused some consternation amongst our American readers!)

Posted in Green Issues

BottleDoes the idea of drinking a bottle of wine per day seem just a little excessive to you? Well according to the study of yet another alcohol ‘expert’, drinking 7 bottles a week, or say 365 bottles a year, will not do you any harm. In research carried out by former World Health Organisation alcohol expert Dr Kari Poikolainen, he claims that we can consume up to 13 units of alcohol per day without any ill effect. With a 75cl bottle of our Castro Martin albariño containing only 9 units, this would mean that drinking 1½ bottles per day would be just about within the limit!

My own personal belief is pretty much the same as the advice that we are usually given. Enjoy your wine, but take it in moderation – indeed I have always thought that a glass of wine with your meal is possibly a good way to aid digestion, or is that just another misleading ‘expert’ opinion? On the other side of the coin there are those who would argue that wine is a toxin and should be avoided altogether, but then this is perhaps a rather extreme view. Surely the solution to this ongoing conundrum must lie somewhere between the two.

Time to take stock

January 15th, 2015

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StockThe last couple of days have been quite frantic in our bodega, as we have conducted two consecutive days of bottling. The reason for this was quite simple – we were running very low on bottled stock. Of course this is perhaps the way that it should be at this time of year, cleaning out the cellar at Christmas and then starting the new year with fresh stock. Precise planning I think it’s called…. 

Being very honest we did cut it a bit fine at the end of last year, but I am pleased to say that at least we didn’t run out of any wine, and that every order was fulfilled in a timely fashion (something that we pride ourselves on). Having said that, it’s really just as well that we did replenish our stocks so early in the New Year – the new bottlings have arrived just as a number of importers also need to replenish their own cellars after the holidays. Anyone in our business who thought that there might be a lull in our January workload has been sadly mistaken, but happily for all the right reasons. Quite naturally we have our fingers crossed that this positive start will continue throughout 2015!

Posted in Bodega, Business

Charlie Hebdo

January 10th, 2015

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NaturalSo what is your New Year’s resolution for 2015? To eat a bit less, or more healthily? Perhaps drink a bit less?…. No doubt all the usual ideas spring easily to mind. I did however read an interesting article the other day about ‘what not to publish in your 2015 wine blog’, and whilst the language was sometimes a little colourful, it did include one or two very valid, or at least thought provoking ideas that could help form the basis of your 2015 resolution.

For example there was a very interesting paragraph about natural wines, some of which I agreed with, and other parts that just made me smile. I will modify an odd word here and there, if only to clean up the language a little…. on the subject of Natural Wine. “Let it die. Your concern for the Earth and the holy temple of your body is fascinating, don’t get me wrong. But you’re boring everyone to death. Really. I’m not kidding. You’re just another middle-class white person who feels the need to instruct all of us on morality and taste.  I get enough of that in the news every day of my life. I drink wine to escape from people preaching at me. Fine, I admire you. You’re a better wine drinker than I am, with an incredibly sensitive and refined palate. You’re saving the world, if only people would listen!”

OK, perhaps it’s a bit strong, but I did like the part about drinking wine to escape….. I imagine simply kicking back, relaxing, glass in hand, not a care in the world. It’s true, you really don’t need people lecturing you about the rights and wrongs of a product created purely for your enjoyment. Let’s not over complicate matters, and get too tied up in the detail…… just enjoy!

He goes on to finish (still about Natural Wine): “You bought that Natural Wine produced in France, it was shipped in an ocean-polluting tanker to a busy harbour, loaded on an exhaust-belching truck to be delivered to a warehouse, driven in a truck getting four miles per gallon to your local wine shop, and you feel good about it because the guy who made it didn’t spray Roundup? Thanks. Now I get it. You’re a saint.” (Roundup being a brand of weedkiller)

The article was written by the Hosemaster himself, ex-award winning sommelier, Ron Washam, a contributor to the website of my friend Tim Atkin MW.

Still freezing

January 7th, 2015

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Reyes MagosWe have an expression called ‘tempting fate’, when we make a passing remark, which either comes true when we don’t necessarily want it to, or otherwise completely contradicts the original comment. In this case it was a comment that I made just before the end of December, when I said we don’t normally have a lot of frost during the winter. Here we are, just over a week later, and we have had frost every night since I made the comment! Of course this is not really a problem at all at this time of year, indeed it is quite a positive thing – the clear skies at night have extended throughout the day, and we have enjoyed long hours of sunshine.

We have just re-opened the Bodega today, after some extended holidays – three celebrations over a two week period. Christmas, New Year and Los Reyes Magos (the three kings), celebrated here on January 6th. Clearly this causes quite a lot of disruption to business, and it takes a little while to settle back into our normal daily routine……

Posted in Fiestas, Weather

SmartphoneNow I realise as I write this that there might be a few people who view our social media pages using smartphones, so I will start with an apology to them….. I am sorry for what I am about to write! A question that I am increasingly asking myself these days is quite simply, how did we survive before mobile phones? Or perhaps, to refine the question a bit, how did we communicate without them? I was sitting in a restaurant yesterday watching a nearby table comprising two adults and their young child – the mother was messaging on her phone, the father was surfing the web on his, whilst the young child was left to stare at the ceiling. Is this really the example that we want to set to our children? Extending this idea a bit further, could it be that at sometime in the not-to-distant future we will lose the ability to communicate face-to-face altogether? I once saw a young couple in a very expensive New York restaurant texting throughout their meal, and it left me wondering if they were actually texting each other? Had they already lost the ability to talk to one-another? 

Wherever you go, bars, restaurants, airports, public transport, people appear transfixed by their phones. Certainly they are an indispensable tool in modern day life, but it still raises the question, where do we (or where should we) draw the line, before they take over our lives completely? On which occasion should we resist the incoming call or message, and show some respect to the people with whom we are actually sharing our time?

Or perhaps the final question should be….. am I just an old fuddy-duddy?

FrozenWell, Christmas is finally behind us, and now we look forward to welcoming the New Year, 2015. It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Galicia, a cloudless blue sky….. but of course this can only mean one thing. It’s bitterly cold. Some parts of Europe have witnessed their coldest weather of 2014, and been hit by some fairly impressive snowfall. Tales of people trapped in their cars abound – not the best way to celebrate the holidays.

We have not seen any snow in Galicia, but when I left our home in Pontevedra this morning, the temperature was registering -3°C (about 27°F). This was in the city itself, which is actually quite unusual – we sometimes see these temperatures out in the countryside, maybe two or three times during an average winter, but rarely in town. Of course sun and frost are the perfect conditions for the ongoing pruning, as long as you remember to wear your thermals and a good pair of boots!

Posted in Uncategorized

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