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

You say kabob, we say kebab (and the Spanish say kebap)!

OK, so this has absolutely nothing to do with wine, and would be a bit of a push to classify as ‘gastronomy’, but like any food, a well-made kebab and fresh salad can still sometimes hit the spot. It’s not that I am a particular fan of kebabs, but more that I am simply confused about the name. Depending on where you live, your shish, doner or whatever can be written kebab, kabob, kebap, cabob, kebob, albeit the true origin of the word (coming via Urdu, through the Arabic, meaning roast meat) is actually none of the above – it’s kabāb!!

Around the world there are many different types of kabab, but the single element that most have in common, is the skewer on which they are cooked. This is said to originate from Eastern Europe when the Turkic tribes cooked meat on their swords over open fires.

Many of us who enjoy the occasional doner kabab, might not know that this is also known as shawarma or gyro – a rotisserie or spit often placed vertically (Arab – shawarma, Greek – gyros). How we actually enjoy eating our shawarma, is yet another story! The ‘doner’ is claimed to be quite a recent invention – sliced, served in pita flatbread, with fresh salad, vegetables and/or pickles squished on top. Said to have been created in the 70’s by a Berliner, Kadir Nurman, albeit the Lebanese will tell you that the kabab, meat sandwich, has been around for centuries. It is the this new ‘doner’ which is currently under threat and could be made illegal across Europe, because of the phosphates that some variations contain and their links to cardiovascular disease.

Despite this latest scandal, I have to confess that in the early 80’s I would enjoy the occasional shawarma from my local Kebab Kid in Fulham, made with fresh lamb meat (not minced and reconstituted). It was so good that the shop is still there today, and still highly rated.

Sometimes, when people acquire or inherit money their first impulse is to open their own restaurant, or perhaps build a wine cellar. I think that this is what you might call a ‘romantic idea’ – the fact that your name might appear above a restaurant door, or on your own wine label. Proof of this could be the number of Hollywood stars who have already taken this path (except that when they did, I very much doubt if they ever stopped to consider the long hours and hard work involved behind the scenes). Their only consideration was probably the end result – a bottle of their own wine or a nice location where they could entertain and/or impress their friends.

For us, this assumption can be something of an occupational hazard. For example, when we make a new acquaintance and mention that we have a wine cellar, you can almost see their eyes light up. Not necessarily because they expect a flood of free wine, but much more that they see it as a potential day out – a visit and guided tour of a wine cellar. In many instances they actually extend themselves an ‘auto-invitation’, by saying “Oh, we must come and visit you”. When this happens I always ask myself the same question – if we told them that we owned a shoe shop, would they necessarily want to visit and see how a shoe shop is run? I very much doubt it!

The reason that I mention this now is because this happened to us only a few days ago. Upon meeting our new next-door neighbour for the first time, at the very first mention of wine cellar, the auto-invite was extended.

The amusing side to this story (which is 100% true), is that his profession is that of undertaker. Suffice to say that we did not ask for a reciprocal visit!

 

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