Time = Money!

April 4th, 2007

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Juan (Señor Gadget) demonstrates the new equipment

Much of the investment that we make in the Bodega is to do with improving the quality of our wine, but not always….. As I have said in previous blogs, the pruning and tying of vines is a back-breaking job, made even more so by our ‘Pergola’ system of training. Anything that we can do to make the job a little easier is therefore welcomed by our staff.
This year we have made a modest investment in a new gadget for the vineyard which carefully ties the shoot of the vine plant to the training wires (it leaves a precise space around each shoot so that it does not become constricted during growth). The chore of tying vines to the wires is now infinitely quicker than before, and so we are able to save time, and perhaps a few pesetas, for other important jobs in and around the Bodega.

Cold stabilisation (note the ‘frosted’ metal tube)

In earlier blogs I have discussed the process of cold stabilisation (chilling the wine rapidly to approximately -5°C to precipitate the tartrates), and over the last months we have invested here too.

The machine that we use is a little old but very high quality, and far too expensive to discard completely, so we have given it a thorough overhaul – a completely new and much more efficient compressor that allows us to pass the wine more quickly than before – saving time and energy, but more importantly, reducing the time that the wine is exposed to possible oxidation. Our local contractors have been working on this overhaul for nearly six months now, and so hopefully, after so much time (and a substantial financial investment), we will finally start to benefit from the results.

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If you tried the virtual visit with Google Earth recommended in my last post, and were astonished by the technology, then you really have to try this one to believe it…..

Prolafiol® tasting technology has been around for one or two of years now and we are delighted that (after much pressure from our local D.O.), they have finally added Albariño to their list of noble grape varieties. We invite you to try this unique virtual “tasting” experience – Please start by double clicking on the image to enlarge and then follow the instructions carefully:

Hands must be perfectly clean before starting (do not use perfumed hand wash)

1. Click box in lower right corner to activate Prolafiol tasting.
2. Using finger tip very gently rub selected coloured box
(Warning! Excessive pressure may damage your screen)
3. Finger tip should now reveal trace odours of chosen grape variety
4. Repeat process for next selection (using different finger)

As with any new technology there have been problems depending on your operating system (for example, I have been trying to establish if it works with new Windows Vista). If you need any advice just drop me an e-mail.

Happy (virtual) tasting!

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If you have a reasonably good computer, with a reasonably fast connection (ADSL) then you must pay us a virtual visit using Google Earth

If you have not used this site before let me tell you that it is a great deal of fun, and apart from seeing spectacular aerial views of our bodega and vineyards, you can ‘fly’ to virtually any location on the planet (including your own home). The technology is quite breathtaking, and completely safe.

OK, so first you have to download the programme from the Google Earth site, and then once you have it installed you will have the whole world at your finger tips. On the left of the screen is the ‘search’ facility, and if you click on the ‘fly to’ tab, you can then simply enter our co-ordinates and visit our different locations. The co-ordinates you need are as follows:

The Bodega: 42°30’18.91”N,8°45’23.73”W

El Pazo Vineyard: 42°29’48.67”N,8°46’27.20”W

Castrelo Vineyard: 42°28’45.38”N,8°48’29.62”W

I would of course recommend that you simply copy and paste these numbers into the search facility, and then you can zoom in as close as you like.
So, have a great flight, and we will have a (virtual) glass of Albariño ready for you on your arrival!
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Racking in progress
Believe it or not there is no quiet time of year in the Bodega. Since the beginning of the year we have been busy in the vineyards with pruning and tying the vines, whilst indoors we have just started another big job…..

During the winter we have been tasting our tanks of the 2006 wines on a regular basis, and this is not just because we like Albariño. Since fermentation, the wines have been sitting on their lees (the exhausted yeasts), developing character and accumulating more complex flavours and aromas. One of the critical points in the wine-making year is to pick the optimum moment for racking (drawing the clean wine off the lees). This is decided by both taste and experience – once the wines are completely nourished by the lees, and before the wine shows signs of ‘reduction’ that can lead to bitterness and off flavours.

The length of time that an Albariño rests on it’s lees is not fixed in stone, but is actually determined by the healthiness of the lees themselves. If the lees are not clean they will pass on unpleasant flavours to your wine in a very short space of time.

The racking is a big step forward towards the release of the new wine, but there is still more work to do before it can be deemed ready for bottling.

Although the lees may look like a rather disgusting, dirty-brown porridge, there is a wonderful aroma of yeast that permeates the air during the racking process, making our cellar smell more like a bakery.

Footnote: If you are puzzled by the title of this post, it originates from the Spanish word ‘desfangar’, which means ‘to rack’. For me at least, a desfangador sounds more like a Spanish guy in tight black trousers brandishing his castanets than a piece of equipment we use for racking – Sorry, just my strange sense of humour!
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To make it easier to find the articles that really interest you I have added a new “LABEL” to each entry. This means for example, that if you are only interested in reading about our Harvest at Bodegas Castro Martin, then simply click on “HARVEST” in the labels list on the right hand side of the page. By doing this you will pull up all the entries that I have made since the start of our blog in January 2006.

Please do not forget that you can find much more (press and general information) on our full website at www.castromartin.com
As with all technology, there is a small downside – in upgrading the site it seems to have effected my HyperText Markup Language. OK, so I’m showing off now – but what this means to you is that it has randomly altered the word spacing on some of my entries. No big deal, but not quite as pretty….
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The pipes, the pipes are calling

I thought it only appropriate that with all the Celtic connections we have here in Galicia (not to mention me being a McCarthy), that we should wish all our Irish cousins a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. No doubt there will be plenty of drinking in the Emerald Isle tomorrow, albeit probably more of the ‘black stuff’ than of our own Albariño. Having said that, we do have a very good importer for our wine, both North and South of the border, so it will be available….

The above photograph reminds me of my very first visit to Galicia several years ago, on a balmy summers evening, enjoying a chilled glass of Albariño, and at the same time being entertained by a band of pipes and drums. I have to say that it seemed very surreal at the time as I had no idea that the bagpipe had been adopted in this part of Spain.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh

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Planning a visit to Barrantes?
Next weekend we have a group visiting the bodega from one of our Spanish distributors. Visit planned, tasting organised, tapas decided and invitations in the post – including a map of ‘how to find us’…… but wait!
You probably have not noticed that on our website (under the ‘contact us’ menu) we have detailed instructions of how to reach the bodega by car. Please ignore this for the time being.

The 10km stretch of ‘Via Rapida’ that connects us to the main North/South motorway is currently being upgraded, and for the next few months is closed completely. Unfortunately the alternative route is much more long-winded and impossible to illustrate easily on a map.
So, to cut a long story short, if you are planning to visit Castro Martin during the Spring/Summer of 2007 then please phone us first for guidance (directional, not spiritual!)
We look forward to seeing you.
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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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