It’s that time of year again, when the press comes in thick and fast – now we have yet another accolade from the Guía Exceso de Vinos 2007 in Venezuela. Favourable comments about our Casal Caeiro 2005 that read as follows:

“Produced by Bodegas Castro Martín in the Salnés Valley. The pergolas of the vineyard are an average of 50 years old and are cultivated in sandy soils. The harvesting is done by hand.

Fresh and young, yellow-green color, the nose is potent, rich and aromatic and opens out into a fantastic array of ripe white fruits and salty mineral notes. Clean in the mouth, intense, lively and fresh acidity – long and persistent finish.

Expressive. Seems to jump from the tongue to envelop the palate.”

Casal Caeiro was also featured in a list of best quality/price wines and also the most seductive wines.

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Not satisfied with the recommendation of Casal Caeiro Barrica in ‘El Mundo’, we have now progressed to the recommendation of ‘El Universal’, who have written about our unoaked Casal Caeiro. Just to clarify, El Mundo is of course a daily newspaper here in Spain, whereas El Universal is one of Venezuela’s most well-respected daily newspapers.

In his column Carpe Vinum (which I believe means Seize the Wine) the journalist Vladimir Viloria wrote about Albarino – “The albariño is the best white wine of Spain. It´s always fantastically fresh. It´s crisp acidity, it´s intense nose, filled with flowers and white fruits and unique mineral background – character only possible in the microclimate of the Rias Baixas”.

In referring to our own Casal Caeiro he went on to say – “Balanced citric acidity with a background of ripe white melon, and a slight prickle that leaves the palate clean and ready for the next sip. We have in front of us a very well-made wine that expresses all the typicity and expression of the grape variety”

The entire article, written exclusively about Bodegas Castro Martin, can be seen (in Spanish) by using this Carpe Vinum link.

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Once again the Guia Gourmets has voted one of our Albariños amongst the top white wines of Spain. In the 2007 guide our Avian label was listed at number four in the whole country (not just in the Rias Baixas denomination) with a score of 8.25 out of a possible 10.

Consistency of quality is always of paramount importance to us, and, as if proof were needed, Avian has been included in the Guide’s ‘Table of Honour’ every year for the last four years, and only once outside the top ten:

2004 Guide – Score 8/10 – Rated 3rd in Spain
2005 Guide – Score 7.5/10 – Rated 16th in Spain
2006 Guide – Score 8/10 – Rated 7th in Spain
2007 Guide – Score 8.25 – Rated 4th in Spain

Their (translated) description in 2007 is as follows:

“Yellow gold, very bright. Powerful and aromatic, stone fruit notes (papaya and medlar*), minerals, infusions (lime blossom), thyme – an elegant marinade. Complex, lively and balanced. Sensations of mature white fruit (water pear), fresh herbs, menthol, flowers (camomile)…. and a long finish that lingers on the palate.”

As I mentioned only last week, tasting is very subjective, and sometimes there are expressions which are especially difficult to translate and understand.
*medlar – is a fruit like small brown apple

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Teddy Hall – one of South Africa’s finest

Over my years in the world of wine I have been privileged to meet and taste with some of the finest wine makers on the planet. When it comes to Chenin Blanc I can honestly say, without fear of contradiction, that probably the best of all is a good friend of mine – Teddy Hall of Rudera Wines in South Africa.

Teddy and his family spent three weeks with us just before the 2005 harvest, not only for a holiday, but also for an exchange of viticultural ideas (pictured above with Angela). Suffice to say that we learned a lot during our ‘New World meets Old World summit’.

At this time of year Teddy is busy with his 2007 harvest, and you can actually witness his progress, and see some stunning South African scenery in this short video clip.
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WINE OF THE WEEK
“Wines which really impressed me, but also cost less than £10. Most Wines of the Week are widely available across the UK, and often they are available internationally too.”

Castro Martin (Spain) Albariño Rias-Baixas Family Reserve 2005

“The Martin family has been at the forefront of the wine revolution that has swept Galicia in the last two decades. Founded in 1981, the company was one of the first to vinify the indigenous Albariño with modern techniques and equipment. Angela Martin has been winemaker since 1993, and is married to Englishman Andrew McCarthy who runs the marketing and export operations.

The Castro Martin Family Reserve Albariño is mineral and fine. There is a distinct salty minerality on the nose, with a whiff of seaside ozone, then no shortage of pure, clean, limpid white fruit aromas. The palate almost shimmers with tang and vibrancy, and though it has a steely precision, there is just loads of fruit too that has a peachy, pear-like quality backed up by a vivid streak of lemon and mineral acidity. Delicious stuff.”

Footnote: Tom Cannavan is the publisher of wine-pages.com, one of the world’s most popular and longest running wine sites, established in 1995. He is also the editor of Fine Expressions, a bi-monthly glossy magazine about the world of wine and other premium drinks and for several years was wine columnist for Harpers Wine & Spirit Weekly, and for The Sunday Post (Scotland’s biggest-selling newspaper). He also enjoys a successful freelance wine writing career, appearing in The Sunday Times, The Independent, Decanter and Wine Magazines. He has occasionally appeared on BBC radio and television.

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Berlin Wine Trophy
The international wine competition in the capital city of Berlin

“Since 1994, Deutsche Weinmarketing has been organising a wine-tasting competition within the frame of the Berlin Wine Fair, which is the largest consumer wine fair in Germany.
From the beginning, this event has been monitored by the Berlin State Wine Office. In 2003, the OIV – the International Organisation of Vine and Wine – supervised and rated the performance of the event. Due to an excellent rating, the Berlin Wine Trophy has been running every year under the aegis of the OIV. This is the highest distinction for the Berlin Wine Trophy event.
However, at the national level, a change in the wine law regulations was necessary to be able to organise a recognised wine-tasting event in Berlin as a non-wine-growing Federal Land like in all other world capitals. After this obstacle was removed in December 2005, the Berlin Senate recognised Deutsche Weinmarketing as the carrier of the international competition “Berlin Wine Trophy” and notified the Federal Ministry and the European Commission accordingly.
We are glad that producers are now able to affix the rankings obtained during the Berlin Wine Trophy as a medal on the respective bottles. An ideal marketing aid assisting consumers with their decision when purchasing high-quality wines. Deutsche Weinmarketing and the whole team of Berlin Wine Trophy are looking forward to present their wines to the international jury for an award during the next wine-tasting event 2007.”
Your Berlin Wine Trophy Team
Footnote: Text taken direct from the Wine Trophy website. Is it politically correct to say that this explanation sounds a bit “Vorsprung Durch Technik”?
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Well, maybe not to a cinema near you, unless you happen to live in Melbourne, Australia!
March 1st sees the start of La Mirada, the Festival of Spanish film, and yes, you’ve guessed it – they’re going to be serving Castro Martin. Four Spanish wines have been chosen to be served on the opening night and at the media launch, and we are delighted to have been included in the selection.
The festival is jointly sponsored by Australia’s top Spanish wine importer, together with the best Spanish Restaurant in the country – ‘Mo Vida’.
We invite all our readers to attend the opening night and enjoy a refreshing glass of Castro Martin (plane tickets not included!)
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Under the weather

February 16th, 2007

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What’s up doc?

Over the last couple of weeks you may have noticed that my posts have been a bit few and far between, and I think I possibly have my wife Angela to thank for that…..

After a long weekend in Barcelona she returned to Galicia with a very bad dose of flu, probably contracted in the cabin of the plane home (making it more like aviation flu than avian flu!) Well, within 24 hours I was down with it too, and suffice to say that this was a particularly virulent strain leaving us both feeling as if we had been run over by a truck.

After several days out of the office we are both finally back, and it’s only now that we’ve started to catch up with the backlog.

Please note that next year I intend to be first in the queue for flu jabs!

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Fish n’ Albariño

February 16th, 2007

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Lunchtime is never a good time to post a mouthwatering photograph of food, especially when all you have in the wine cellar fridge for your own lunch is a cheese and ham sandwich!
In the February issue of Spain’s ‘Mi Vino’ magazine the wine writer Bartolomé Sánchez has selected six Spanish white wines as a possible accompaniment for a delicious cod dish (from the Restaurant Safrá in Barcelona). Of the six possible wines selected only two were rated as “Excellent” – with three stars out of three.

One was our very own Avian Albariño 2005 which Sr Sanchez described as una simbiosis total” with the fish – I don’t think any translation is required….

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2006/2007 – a warm, wet winter in Galicia
So, who on earth is Peter Green I hear you ask? Well, Peter Green was my old geography teacher back in the 70’s (he was also my tennis coach in the good old days when school children were obliged to participate in real sport, rather than just Playstation virtual sport!) OK, so back to the point….
In our meteorology class one of the nmemonics that Mr Green taught us was the 5 W’s – the warm, wet, westerly winds in winter. Obviously, for the UK at least, our winters were always moderated by these warm westerly winds (or the ‘North Atlantic drift’ as I think they are also known).
In a similar way the climate of Galicia is also influenced enormously by the Atlantic Ocean, and inevitably we share many of the very same weather systems that skim across the Bay of Biscay en route to the UK.
A Galician winter would normally generate at least some frost, albeit always at night and rarely surviving more than a couple of hours of winter sun. This year however, there has hardly been any frost at all, as night time temperatures have rarely dropped below 5 or 6°C (41°F). Days have also been mild, and mostly wet, with average temperatures of around 12-14°C (55°F). Of course we welcome the additional rain after two or three very dry winters, but a little frost is also very useful, helping to kill off some of the more unwelcome insects, and giving the vines a welcome rest bite during the winter months…..
So, is this just another sign of global warming, together with the excellent Balfour Brut (English “Champagne”) that I tasted in London last week?
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