Yet another satisfied customer has kindly sent us their photo, enjoying a bottle of Castro Martin – this time from Barcelona. You will notice that, as in previous images, this young lady is enjoying her bottle with a rather delicious looking fish dish. Of course the fish/albariño combination is no big secret, and really does work rather well, especially with the type of dish that we can see in the picture – poached or possibly lightly pan-fried fish. A delicately flavoured fish with a delicate wine that we know will not overpower, but rather compliment the flavours.
Of course when I received this photo I was tempted to call it a selfie, when quite obviously, it isn’t. The word ‘selfie’ has very quickly become over-used and abused, and is now seemingly used to describe any type of portrait or closeup group photo, regardless of whether one of the subjects is holding the camera or not. OK, so I’m being pedantic here, but let’s face it, if you’re going to invent a new word then at least make an effort to use it correctly!
Since becoming what is known as an Ex-pat, living outside the UK, I think I have probably become more patriotic than ever. So much so that I even bought an England t-shirt for the last World Cup (even though we did so badly that it was very quickly converted into a cleaning cloth)!
A few years ago we were delighted when one of our wines was selected to be served on British Airways (flying the flag, to use an obvious pun), but now I think we can go one better… Our latest customer has a British Flag of some 308 feet or 94 metres long – the longest Union Flag anywhere in the world. We are now being poured on the brand new cruise ship ‘Britannia’, officially launched by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in March of 2015. It’s quite an impressive little boat, measuring some 1,082 ft long (longer than the height of the Eiffel Tower), and weighing in at 141,000 tons – it can accommodate more than 3,600 passengers on 15 decks in 1,837 cabins. The ship has 13 restaurants where they will be serving our very own, humble albariño, and also boasts it’s own cookery school and wine tasting courses for passengers.
We are thrilled to be on board, flying the flag for Castro Martin across the world.
It seems that there is an ever increasing number of restrictions placed on motorists these days, in attempts to keep us sober, within the speed limit, and generally obeying the law. Well, to be honest I don’t really have a problem with any of that, it’s really more of a frustration that I have relating to the methods of enforcement that they use. The latest speed cameras for example, don’t now simply take a picture at one given moment, and measure your speed on the spot, we now have average speed cameras, measuring you average speed over a given distance. In a way this is not a bad thing, as it now avoids the dangerous scenario where the driver in front suddenly sees a fixed camera and slams on his brakes. However, we do eventually get to know where these static cameras are placed, and slow down accordingly, but usually only for a hundred metres on either side perhaps.
However, speed cameras are not the pet subject of my post today, it is rather speed ramps, speed humps or sleeping policemen as they are sometimes known. Having discovered roundabouts only a few years ago and introduced them at every conceivable juncture, Spanish traffic planners latest discovery is the speed hump….. In towns and villages all around Spain (or at least here in Galicia), you can’t drive a hundred metres without encountering one – almost literally. Take our Provincial capital Pontevedra for example. It is a brilliant place to visit – if you’re on foot. If you’re a motorist then maybe not so much, and my advice would be, have your car suspension checked before you arrive. Nearly the whole of the centre of Pontevedra is pedestrianised, which of course is great for your evening stroll (paseo) around the city, or your window shopping perhaps, but entering and leaving the city will probably be a bit of a bumpy ride. Just to prove that I am not exaggerating, the other day I had occasion to drive from the Consello Regulador offices in the centre of the city, to my computer repair shop a bit further around the ‘ring road’ – a distance of just under 3km (1.86 miles). Sad person that I am, I counted the speed bumps (most of which are large and accommodate pedestrian crossings)……. There were 28!! This works out almost exactly at an average of one crossing every hundred metres. From a motorists perspective perhaps I should be asking the question, if my suspension is eventually damaged, will the local council pay for the repair? I think I already know the answer to that one.
It seems that we may have started something of a trend amongst our supporters – no sooner had I posted a picture of customers enjoying a glass of Castro Martin, than we received another photo from Asturias (further along the north coast towards Bilbao), of another group, this time enjoying a chilled glass of Casal Caeiro albariño.
Of course now that we are entering the first days of spring, a little sunshine on our faces and generally warmer weather, it could be that our brains switch into ‘summer mode’, and our immediate instinct is to crack open a refreshing glass of chilled white wine. We can put the heavy, ripe, alcoholic reds back in the cupboard until the autumn. OK, I admit that’s a rather simplistic way of looking at things, but we are, after all, albariño producers, so what do you expect?!
Anyone who knows me will also know that I am a tea drinker – to be more specific a Yorkshire Tea drinker (made by Taylors of Harrogate). This morning however, my head was nearly turned by the smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting around the building that I was entering. Even though I’m not a big coffee drinker, and only drink the occasional cup at the end of a meal, I have to confess that there is something very special about the smell. There are certain compounds in coffee that make it especially beguiling, almost a ‘welcoming’ smell that evokes a feeling of well-being. These volatile compounds are produced when coffee beans are roasted and are very similar to the compounds that are released during the cooking process. For example, the smell of baking bread derives from the compounds that are produced when a sugar reacts with a protein, and this can be just as enticing as the fresh coffee.
The downside I’m afraid, is that this is all just smell, and does not necessarily translate into flavour. Most of what we taste is actually smell, and if you hold your nose whilst drinking coffee you will probably detect only the sour, bitter flavour that originates from the organic acids. Clearly the secret is not to hold your nose whilst drinking you fresh cup of Joe….. and this applies to wine too!
Angela and I have been conscious for some time now that there is a strong demand in the market for more convenient packaging (probably owing to the wide acceptance of screw cap). So, rather than simply taking the more logical step of moving to Stelvin, we have now taken a much more radical step….. wine in a can!
To bottle in screw cap would have required at least some investment in new equipment, and so we decided that rather than just playing ‘catch up’, we would rather become pioneers within the Rias Baixas denomination, and make at least some of our wine in this brand new 33cl presentation. Out of habit I was inclined to say that we ‘bottled’ in 33cl, whereas the correct terminology should perhaps be ‘canned’. No doubt this will become more familiar as time goes by.
To test the market, we have only made a small number of cans – a ‘limited edition’ if you like, but I can tell you that there is already great interest in several markets. Vamos a ver!
You may already know that I am not a great believer when it comes to the real value of wine competitions. Of course it’s nice to receive a medal now and again, but it’s simply that achieving the result can sometimes be a bit of a lottery. There are just so many variables involved during the judging process.
I have always believed that customer references are far more important. The quality of the people buying your wine and their total satisfaction is really what it’s all about. Having great importers is one thing, but then at the other end of the chain, the final consumer is ultimately the one that determines the success or failure of your product. If wine drinkers don’t like your wine then you might as well give up – your wine simply won’t sell – or rather you might well sell the first bottle, but then never the second.
So when a private customer takes the time to write to you simply to tell you how much they have enjoyed your wine, then this is almost as valuable as winning a gold medal in my book. Here we see a couple of our private customers enjoying a bottle of Castro Martin with a plate of oysters. Truly a marriage made in heaven. After all, what is it they say? The customer is always right!
One of the biggest chores of the year is pretty much behind us, as we come to the end of the pruning period – and not a moment too soon. In the last couple of weeks the weather has certainly picked up, and recent days have been largely fine and sunny. In the early part of the month the thermometer actually touched the 20°C (68°F) mark during the day, but since then the average has been closer to 15/16°C (60°F). The forecast for the coming week is for warmer weather, as our weather experts predict temperatures up to the mid-20′s C (around 75°F) – quite warm for this time of year.
Of course, with this warmer weather comes the first sign of life in the vineyard. The buds on the vines are just starting to break, and no doubt when the warm weather arrives next week, this small movement will be accelerated. Now that we have some growth, we have our fingers crossed that the winter frosts are behind us – certainly being so close to the sea does help to regulate our temperatures, meaning that we usually don’t suffer from extremes of temperature either in summer or in winter.
To be honest I don’t know where to begin! Angela and I have been away for most of the last week at Prowein in Dusseldorf, to my mind certainly the best wine fair in Europe, if not in the world. It’s a very humbling place, and puts a perspective on where we are placed within the world of wine – one tiny grain of sand on a beach. The number of producers and wines on offer was truly mind-boggling, and made me ask myself, when I was a buyer, how did I cope with this? Well, there is a simple answer. Clearly you can’t taste everything, and so the very best that you can do is set out with a plan, and make sure that you stick to it (allowing perhaps a little extra time each day to make one or two random discoveries). If you simply arrived at the entrance, not knowing what you were looking for, then you would very quickly be overwhelmed. In any event, wine fairs are tiring, whether you’re buying or selling – it’s three long days on your feet, not to mention that Dusseldorf is already quite a ‘trek’ from Galicia (two flights via Madrid, taking more than half a day).
But having to play catch up with a backlog of work from the fair is only half the story – the day before we left for Germany, my computer packed up again, but this time completely…… Nothing… Nada… Rien… I couldn’t even open a programme! Of course I had already been experiencing huge problems in the last couple of weeks, but thought that it had largely been resolved, albeit not perfectly. I was wrong, this time it crashed and took my entire Prowein appointment calendar with it! Of course I had a back up, but this is only of use if you have somewhere to re-install it! At least I was able to leave it with the engineers until we returned from our trip, but I still had to wait another 24 hours before it was returned to me. I then spent an entire day re-loading programmes and changing the settings, to at least make it feel like my own computer – fortunately, I believe that all the data files have been retrieved. After this experience now might truly be the time to consider cloud computing.
So now, it is simply a question of catching up and wading through the backlog of mails in my inbox. Heaven help me.
When you look at today’s photograph, you might be forgiven for thinking that it was taken in the Caribbean, or perhaps the Greek Islands, but you would be wrong. Prepare to be shocked….. As the crow flies, this beautiful little island is actually a mere 12.43km (7.7 miles) from the front door or our bodega, in the Ría de Arousa, near Cambados. (For those who might not remember, a Ría is a river estuary, and the Ría de Arousa forms a part of Rías Baixas – the lowers estuaries, from where we get our name).
I am sure that I have mentioned before, our Rías are dotted with hundreds of small beaches and tiny islands, it really is a beautiful place….. when it’s not raining! Of course I only say that now because in winter it can be pretty grey and dismal, but in summer it is transformed by the sun, into a really beautiful corner of Spain. And, it is still quite authentic, in that it hasn’t been exploited by too much (foreign) tourism. True, many Spanish people holiday here, and have second homes on our coast, but you still wouldn’t bump into too many English speakers, for example.
So that’s today’s holiday propaganda over and done, apart from this link to this fabulous video of Salnés (also on our website’s YouTube page). Oh, and by the way, did I mention that we also have great wine and seafood!
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