Back in April our Castro Martin Albariño was featured on the ‘Today Show’ (NBC) website as part or their Spring selection. As though that wasn’t exciting enough, we’ve now been singled out for the ‘foodie’ page of the CNN website, called Eatocracy – this time as a part of their Summer selection.
Ray Isle is Food & Wine’s executive wine editor, and with a circulation of nearly 5 million, Ray’s comments were also posted on their own Food & Wine website. He commented:
“What goes best with…? That’s the baseline wine-pairing question, and every wine expert worth his or her Riedel decanter has an answer for it. But realistically—and especially during the summer—there are plenty of times when a glass of wine will find its way to your hand with no food anywhere nearby. Cocktail parties, pre-dinner lounging around, beach house afternoons hanging out with friends, you name it. For these occasions what you want is the ideal aperitif wine: something light and crisp, not too high in alcohol and endlessly refreshing.
At the recent Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, which I was lucky enough to attend, I spent my time in the Grand Tasting tent hunting up some ideal, affordable, white wine candidates for this category. Here is one of my top picks:
2012 Bodegas Castro Martin Albariño ‘Sobre Lias’ - One of the best out of an ice bucket–full of Albariños I tasted, this layered, lemon-grapefruity white from Spain was impossible not to like. It’d be a great cocktail party pour.
There is so much written about wine these days that it is quite normal for the odd review of our wines to slip under the radar. A month or two ago our Castro Martin wine, sold in Marks & Spencer was recommended by the Independent Newspaper as one of their wines of the week. Their correspondent Terry Kirby wrote:
Bodegas Castro Martin Albariño 2012 – “Great credit to M&S to be stocking Albariño from this family-owned estate in the Rias Baixas in north-western Spain. Zesty, medium-bodied and full of flavours of pears and quince, it is almost perfectly designed for the bountiful local fish and, particularly, shellfish, while it is also fine for sushi.”
Oz Clarke, Tim Atkin (MW) and Olly Smith (aka ‘The Three Wine Men’), are all rated amongst the UK’s top wine writers. They recently held their annual summer tasting in Manchester, and were were very pleased to receive a mention for our Castro Martin wine that we sell to Marks & Spencer.
“Oz, Tim and Olly made notes on their favourite wines from the event: Tim Atkin MW - Bodega Castro Martin ‘Sobre Lias’ 2012 ‘Lovely stone fruit aromas segue into a fresh, lime zesty palte with a crunchy mouth-watering finish.’’
Having spent a few days in the UK, I climbed onto a plane at Heathrow Airport where the temperature was around 30°C (86°F). We flew south-west towards Galicia for nearly two hours and by the time we arrived the temperature had dropped to around 19°C (66°F). On face value this makes no sense whatsoever, as we always educated to believe that the further south we travel, the warmer it gets (unless of course, you reside in the southern hemisphere). Whilst I completely understand about jet-streams and pressure systems, this type of climate anomaly still sometimes, leaves me scratching my head….. should I be travelling back to the UK to seek some sun and to spend my summer break I ask myself?
The following day was cloudy and dull in our area, and the night brought heavy rain and thunderstorms (despite the fact that the humidity had not been overtly high). With all the rainfall that we have suffered so far this year this is far from ideal grape growing conditions – it’s wonderful for the vegetation, as the vine canopy spreads like wildfire, but inevitably the fruit itself can suffer in the wet, humid conditions. To date, this is not the perfect summer that we crave.
Another visit to the Chef’s table @ Pepe Vieira, this time with our friends from Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd. Another memorable evening, great food and a couple of older vintages of our Castro Martin Family Estate Selection to accompany Xosé’s fine cuisine. A marriage made in heaven……
Extract from the Pepe Vieira Facebook page: Hoy compartimos con nuestros amigos de la bodega Castro Martín nuestra cocina para sus representantes norteamericanos……!!!! Menudos vinazos!!!!
Last week was a busy week for visits – on Monday a small group comprised of some of the UK’s top wine journalists, followed later in the week by two days with a group from our U.S. importer (Frederick Wildman & Sons), and their distributors. Angela and I are completely worn out and have decided that we should create ‘virtual visits’ to use in future if only to save our vocal chords. Actually, that wouldn’t work at all – you really have to visit the region to discover it’s true beauty, especially when the sun shines, as it did for us this week.
Apart from the usual tastings and tour of the bodega and vineyards we took our American friends up a hill….. to the Mirador of San Cibrán – a viewing point that overlooks almost the entire Salnés Valley (where our Bodega is located). I think that the panorama is probably greater than 18o° and on a clear day is really quite breathtaking (even to those who were visiting from New York City). Quite a different skyline, but providing a great photo opportunity just the same.
In the August issue of Wine & Spirits we were awarded 90 points in their tasting of albariño. They commented about our Castro Martin Family Estate Selection 2012:
”A big wine that feels constricted by reduction, this packs a range of fruit flavors, from peach to apricot, orange zest and tropical fruits. Though broad and generously textured, it’s a little hard to follow for now, needing time to settle out in bottle and mature over the next year or two.”
It’s nice to see that our wine is now acknowledged as having ageing potential – we work very hard to ‘educate’ our customers in this respect. The vast majority of consumers still believe that albariño can only be drunk whilst it’s young, but clearly, with the extended lees ageing period during our wine making (Sobre Lias), we add considerable longevity to our wines, meaning that (assuming they are correctly stored), they will age quite agreeably in bottle for at least a year or two.
Pass it on!
Our ‘summer’ so far, has been pretty unsettled to say the least – some hot days, some cool days, some wet days, some dry days – but above all, impossible to predict. Even the weather forecasters are finding it tough. For example, this weekend has been overcast and wet, not as dry and warm as we would expect at this time of year. The forecasters say that the coming week will be hot and dry, but the way things are going it’s really more a question of believing it when it happens.
This picture, taken this morning, shows the Ria of Pontevedra.
The vineyards of Rias Baixas are very fragmented – there are 23,400 different locations, divided between more than 6,700 registered grape growers. Consequently this means that there are not very many Bodegas that are completely self-sufficient in grapes, and the vast majority buy at least some of their crop from the growers. One of the big problems is that, believe it or not, there are very few contracts in existence, and whilst there is some degree of loyalty between Bodegas and growers, it is still very much an open market. Of course the downside of this arrangement is that, in years of shortage, there can be a lot of pressure on supply, and therefore on prices. Such variations make it difficult to always offer a stable bottle price.
A couple of big harvests in recent years have helped to keep our grape prices down, but even in the most expensive vintages they are nothing when compared to the price recently paid for 800g (28oz) of Ruby Roman grapes in Japan. A single bunch of only 30 of these juicy red grapes was bought at auction for $5,400 dollars, the equivalent of about $180 per grape to you and me! OK, so each grape can be as much as 3cm (1.2in) in diameter, but even so, that’s quite a lot of money for a single grape…..
There is no real explanation as to why these particular grapes are so expensive, except to say that only 16,000 bunches are expected to be sold this season, and only in the prefecture of Ishikawa in central Japan. The Japanese are known to present top-quality fruits such as melons as gifts, and the first batches of carefully grown fruit often fetch extraordinary prices, making headlines in newspapers.
Suffice to say that next week we will be grubbing up all our Albariño grapes and re-planting with Ruby Red!
Last Sunday Angela and I experienced a most unusual, unexpected, but highly enjoyable lunch – where else but at our favourite restaurant, Pepe Vieira. The original purpose of our visit was for business, to discuss a forthcoming function. However, as time passed, lunchtime approached, and so quite naturally, we decided to stay for a bite to eat……. but there was a problem. The restaurant was fully booked! Our friend, and co-owner of the restaurant Xosé Cannas immediately offered us a solution – the Chef’s table. A table in the kitchen, virtually adjoining the hotplate and overlooking the whole operation. Being a frustrated chef myself, this was my idea of food heaven – great dishes on my plate with a ringside seat watching exactly how they were put together.
Having started my career in the hotel trade, I know exactly how loud and animated a kitchen can be during service, but I have to confess that Xosé’s domain was simply the epitome of calm and professionalism. Everyone in their corner, knowing exactly what was expected of them, and producing some great food. No fuss, no shouting or swearing. Gordon Ramsay would certainly have felt out of place in this kitchen – definitely not a nightmare!
We had arrived at 12.30am, and eventually left about 4 hours later. A bit longer than we had anticipated, but altogether a very memorable Sunday lunch, and as always, highly recommended.
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