January Blues

January 15th, 2018

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It’s January, 2018, and there’s not much happening at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, we have sent out a few orders, and our guys are busy pruning in the vineyards, but other than that our days are short, dark, and now just a little bit damp too. The Christmas holiday rain has continued into the new year, and there have been a few thunderstorms. The weather has been changing quickly – one moment we have black skies, thunder, lightning and driving rain, but then, within an hour or two, the sky is almost completely clear and the sun is bursting through!

After a protracted holiday period (a common feature of the Spanish calendar) it can be difficult to regain momentum, but there is planning to be done, bottlings to be made, and of course, we mustn’t forget that our 2017 wines still need to be tasted regularly. Later in the spring we will decide the best moment for racking – removing the wine from the lees, and finally some of these tanks will be blended before they eventually become the finished article.

Within our D.O. the length of time that an albariño needs to remain on its lees before it can be called ‘Sobre Lias’ is just a little vague, although the very minimum is usually accepted to be around 3 months. Technically, this would mean that we could rack our tanks now if we wanted, but in the case of every sobre lias wine at Castro Martin, we always leave them resting for a minimum of 6-8 months, but depending on the vintage, some can be left up to a year!

 

Posted in Bodega, Weather

‘Hunch’ weather? Well, apparently this is a real word dating back to the 18th century. For example, when you have drizzle, rain or wind that makes you hunch up when you walk, then this can be described as hunch weather – at that is exactly what we have at the moment.

After months of dry weather (interspersed with just a few odd days of rain), we finally have a reasonably sustained period of wet weather. By coincidence, these recent periods of rain have coincided almost perfectly with the Spanish holidays! The holiday weekend of 8th/9th/10th December was wet and stormy, but then the sun and dry weather returned more or less until 25th December (and it has been raining ever since). Don’t get me wrong, Galicia is desperate for this rainfall, but clearly it would just be a bit fairer if it happened when we are all working… Of course these might be my ‘famous last words’ as it will probably now rain for the rest of 2018!

Posted in Weather

Happy 2018!

January 1st, 2018

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A Happy, Healthy, Prosperous and Peaceful New Year from the team at Castro Martin

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Fiestas

A dog is for life

December 28th, 2017

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It’s at this time of year when charity is often at the forefront of our minds, and Castro Martin is no exception. We are now supporting a local animal refuge in Cambados (about 5km from the bodega), but not only at Christmas time, this is a cause that we support throughout the year.

The refuge not only provides temporary homes for lost and abandoned animals, but also has it’s own veterinary service, and a pet shop (the income from which also helps to fund the enterprise). So not only do we support the centre financially, but they also sell our albariño in the shop, any profit also going directly to the charity. Each bottle of our Casal Caeiro brand (sold widely in Spain), carries a special booklet, highlighting our backing of this deserving charity.

So, of all the charities around why would we select this one to support? The answer is quite simple – Angela’s sister Duliana is one of the people who helped to set up the refuge, and now spends her time managing the shop.

As always, the message here in Spain, is very much the same as that in the UK – “a dog (or any pet) is for life, and not just for Christmas”.

Christmas tipple

December 26th, 2017

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I have to say that this year’s choice of wine for our Christmas lunch at home was something rather special… Yet again, it was a bottle that I found undiscovered in a dark corner of my private cellar. Unfortunately I think this is the last of my ‘dark corners’! I was looking for something to go with a huge rib of beef that I had bought (which, by pure luck, just fits into our oven). I knew that I still had at least one or two Bordeaux Châteaux that I bought many years ago (not quite ‘en primeur’, but shortly after, whilst they were still affordable). I was under the impression that they were mostly 85’s until I discovered one single bottle of Château Gruaud-Larose 1982! Even today, in recent tastings, this wine has still been rated in the mid-90’s, and is worth more than just a few Euros (I hate to think). Well, it won’t keep forever, I thought to myself.

Apart from the usual difficult cork (no matter how carefully you attack it), the wine was quite astonishing. For a wine that is now some 35 years old (the same age the first vintage made at Castro Martin), it had a deep garnet colour, showing surprising little ageing at the rim. Although the nose showed elements of maturity, with hints of leather and cigar box, it was full, ripe and very concentrated – typical of many of the Cordier wines from around that time. The palate was bold and ripe with a core of dark bramble fruit – still quite youthful for a wine of this age. With a good balancing acidity, it was a very memorable glass indeed.

I guess my only regret is that this was just a single bottle…. Bottoms Up!

Happy Holidays!

December 20th, 2017

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It’s a sad fact in this day and age, that being politically correct is changing the way that we are allowed to celebrate some of our oldest and most revered traditions. For example, for most of my life I have never hesitated when wishing people a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, but apparently, we are now being told that this type of greeting might offend certain sectors of our community. Consequently I am very careful, and in some scenarios, never quite know what to write or say…..

(Whilst the rest of us bite our tongues and do our best to do and say the right thing in matters of religion, politics and sexuality, there is at least one world leader (no names)  to whom these rules apparently don’t apply. It would seem that holding a position of extreme power might provide complete immunity from these rules! My holiday game for this year is leaving you to guess who this could possibly be – no prizes.)

Anyway, stepping down from my soap box for a moment, Angela and I would like to take this opportunity to send our warmest winter greetings to our friends and customers around the world. May your 2018 be happy, healthy, prosperous, and above all peaceful.

(Please note that our picture today is designed specifically not to offend – maybe not net neutrality, but certainly holiday neutrality!)

OMG! It’s now probably wetter and more humid inside the wine cellar than it is outside! Yes, we have had some reasonably heavy rain and high wind in the last week or so, but now we have water pouring through the ceiling inside the cellar. As I write this we are still not 100% sure of it’s origin, but we believe that there is a broken water pipe, inside the ceiling, sealed by concrete. Not a good scenario.

It would appear that the entire ceiling cavity is full of water, and so we have temporarily drilled some holes to allow the water to escape (see photo). Before we did this, then obviously the water simply found its own escape routes, which unfortunately was mainly through our light fittings. On the plus side, these florescent fittings are designed to be water-tight, but one did leak a little, and immediately caused a short-circuit cutting all the lights throughout. Although there is some water falling directly onto our tanks, the wine itself is in absolutely no danger, as they are of course completely hermetic. 

Naturally we have turned off the water source, and will now simply leave the water to drain for the next day or two. Once reasonably dry, we will start the daunting job of finding the actual source of the leak, and carrying out repairs. I guess we only have to be thankful that this leak didn’t occur during harvest or the wine making period – that would have been a complete disaster!

It’s that time of year again, as we now find ourselves busy preparing the usual last-minute gift pack orders, which, in the coming days will be distributed to different corners of Spain. Fortunately, we are in an industry where our product (apart from simply drinking), is also appreciated as a welcome gift at this time of year. (OK, I’m not going to mention that albariño works very well with turkey, because I’m sure that you find it boring that I write this every year).

“In other news” as they say, we have rain! No sooner had I written that we had no water and that our extended weekend might be sunny and dry, than everything changed. Certainly our last weekend was very wet, indeed it was stormy, with winds of 40 to 50kph driving the rain almost horizontally. With our winter days already at their shortest as we approach the solstice, it all added up to a very miserable time. Ironically, it was the first weekend of the official Christmas shopping period, when stores are allowed to open on Sunday (this part of Spain doesn’t normally allow Sunday opening), but I guess, in these treacherous conditions, people simply opted to stay at home with a warm cup of cocoa! 

Posted in Bodega, Fiestas, Weather

Circumnavigating Vigo

December 11th, 2017

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To be honest, when friends and visitors ask me, I’ve never really recommended Vigo as a place to visit – Santiago de Compostela always, La Coruña sometimes, and also Pontevedra on occasions, but never Vigo. It’s not exactly a ‘pretty’ place, there’s far too much faceless 1970’s architecture, and not too many tourist sites of special mention. It’s a very important industrial fishing port, but not much more than that.

I usually only visit when I have chores to do, and so last week, on our bridge day, I went there for a couple of things. The first errand was in a place that I know well, whilst the second was in a place that I really don’t know at all. Fortunately I managed to find both (without the aid of satnav), but then, when it came to the return journey, then that was another matter….

A combination of the unfamilar roads, changed priorities and a couple of diversions left me, quite literally driving in circles – stuck in a never ending loop. For nearly half an hour it was like being stuck in a maze – trying a different route each time, but then always ending up in the same place. Of course, owing to the road closures satnav wouldn’t necessarily have helped, and so it became simply a matter of trial and error. Groundhog day with traffic! I am convinced that the traffic planners in some of these places clearly never have to use these routes themselves, or perhaps they don’t even drive… that’s just my theory anyway.

Festivo in the sun

December 6th, 2017

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The 6th and 8th of December are National holidays in Spain – the 6th is Spain’s National Constitution Day, whilst the 8th is the Day of the Immaculate Conception. With these dates falling on a Wednesday and a Friday this year many businesses (including our own) are taking a ‘bridge’ day on Thursday, and closing for the latter half of the week.

I almost regret to say that as this break begins Galicia is still bathed in unbroken sunshine. This might seem like an odd statement, but it’s simply to say that we need some rain! Apart from a mere handful of damp/wet days, the entire month of November was dry and sunny, and now December has started in exactly the same way, with wall-to-wall blue skies. The only possible upside to this story is the frost. For the last week or so, under clear skies, we have woken up to freezing temperatures, providing the perfect conditions to embark on our annual pruning marathon.

The lack of water has now become so acute that the local Xunta has produced leaflets offering advice on how to save water. Obviously the cover photo illustrates that our reservoirs are falling to alarmingly low levels. Of course there are no cheetahs here in Galicia (to the best of my knowledge) but it’s the underlying message that really causes us concern.

Posted in Bodega, Fiestas

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