It’s quite a well-known fact that Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister is Galician, and spends much of his vacation time here in Galicia – or Sanxenxo to be more specific, about 12km from our Bodega. Indeed, when we are there in summer it is not uncommon to see groups of rather sinister looking security guys hanging round on the street corners adjacent to his building.

However, another more closely guarded secret is that U.S. President Donald Trump also spends some time here (although it can be quite difficult to hide the huge outline of Air Force One as it touches down on the tiny Vigo airstrip).

In today’s photo we can see Donald (clearly in some sort of hi-tech disguise) as he breaks ground on his new golf resort in our Province.

(Fake News Alert!)

Addendum: I forgot to mention that this is not a ‘shopped’ photo, but is actually a real Galician woman called Dolores Leis.

17th March will go down in our 2018 calendar as the day that spring officially started. No big deal really, except that this year the transition from winter to spring happened pretty much from one day to the next. Prior to that date (as with other parts of Europe), the weather had been quite miserable – cold and wet with daytime temperatures barely topping the mid-teens in °C (55-60°F). On 17th all that changed, the sun broke through, the temperature climbed quite dramatically, and the whole complexion of the countryside around us changed – gone were the winter jackets, time to roll up the shirt sleeves. The temperatures are now into the mid-20’s C (75-80°F).

Today’s photo is a slightly different view of our bodega vineyard. I thought that I would change the perspective a little by photographing the pergolas (and their new shoots) from below. The image is further exaggerated by using a 14mm fisheye lens, which also gives the shot a much wider angle.

Time to break out the sun screen!

A day or so ago I posted an image of a local festival on our page, depicting a crazed monk beating French soldiers over the head. And thereby lies the clue: they were French soldiers.

To cut a long story short, the celebration in Mos this month is to mark a significant Spanish victory in the liberation of Galicia, as they expelled the invading French army. March 23rd 1809 signalled the beginning of the end for Napoleon’s Iberian campaign in the Peninsular Wars fought between Napoleon, the Spanish Empire, the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Portugal.

Starting in 1807, as Napoleon sought to occupy the Iberian Peninsula, the joint forces of France and Spain invaded Portugal. However, less than a year later, the French turned on their Spanish allies, and the depleted Spanish forces were easily overcome. Eventually, in November 1808 the Spanish Junta was forced to abandon Madrid.

The fight back, lead by a Spanish resistance that continually harassed the occupying forces (considered to be the first evidence of guerrilla warfare) started in early 1809, with Vigo and Pontevedra being among the very first Spanish regions to be liberated.

In today’s image (posted originally on the Instagram of that time) there is no firm evidence that monks were guilty of assaulting any French troops. Proof, if it were needed, that fake news has existed for many years!

Posted in Fiestas, Odds & Sods

Now here’s a local poster that caught my eye, originating from the small town of Mós, near Vigo. Of course, it is just one more example of the numerous Fiestas and Celebrations that take place every week here in Galicia (and all around Spain). Today I will not explain exactly what it represents, but leave you to ponder for a day or two. I must confess that initially I had no idea what it was myself, and had to do a bit of research to find out. Suffice to say that it is some sort of historical re-enactment that apparently involves monks hitting uniformed soldiers over the head! The explanation will come later….

Posted in Fiestas, Odds & Sods

OK, I know it’s Monday, but let’s talk hydrodynamics (the type of word that can be dropped casually into a conversation about wine to impress your friends)!

When it comes to serious wine tasting one of the very first steps in the process is the so called ‘swirling’, necessary to release the bouquet of the wine. The theory behind it is that a gentle circular movement of the glass generates a wave propagating along the glass walls, enhancing oxygenation and mixing. In simple terms this action spreads the surface area of wine exposed in order to make the aromas more prominent.

Scientifically speaking this motion is not yet fully understood – it is all to do with fluid dynamics and the wave shapes generated by this simple movement. Suffice to say that it can make a real difference to the olfactory sensation that you will experience.

By the way, please don’t do what I have seen a few would-be ‘wine connoisseurs’ doing at the table – holding their glass stationery and moving their nose back and forth across the glass. Apart from making yourself giddy, this 70’s disco head movement will have no effect on the bouquet of your wine! 

Posted in Tasting, Technical

Village life

April 11th, 2018

Add a comment

Apart from my early childhood, I have lived nearly all my adult life in cities. Of course, I now live in the small provincial ‘city’ of Pontevedra, and when I first moved here some 16 years ago, the change was quite a shock to my system. For example, the difference between London, where I worked, and the village of Barrantes, where I work now, was…. well, like being on a different planet. It was not simply a question of size, or the conveniences that you take for granted in a big city, but it was actually more to do with the ‘culture’ of village life.

London can be a very impersonal place, where you might not even know the person living next door to you. People could be crammed onto public transport, almost face-to-face and never speak, and to be honest it’s not really the easiest place for making new friends.

Barrantes is the polar opposite! Even people you have never met know who you are, and even personal details about your life. The thing is that people talk – in fact, a few that I know never stop talking. Perhaps even unwittingly they disclose information about themselves, their families, their neighbours and their friends, I think it’s what some might call ‘village gossip’. Perhaps it’s because I’m English, and already stand out from the crowd, but I have introduced myself to many people who actually already know who I am. My fame goes before me.

Bud break 2018

April 9th, 2018

Add a comment

After months of complaining about having no rain, things have been turned on their head, whereby we are now complaining about the continued cold, damp weather.

By way of illustrating how cold it has been I thought that it might be interesting to do a comparison of vine development, to see how one or two different vintages compare. Whilst I have hundreds of photos of vines in my folders, I have carefully sorted through them to find photos taken in the very same location, at more or less the same time of year – a sort of odd ‘time lapse’ spread over several years! (It’s important that this selection was taken in exactly the same location, as different parts of each vineyard will develop at different speeds according to their exposure).

I had already noticed that vine development was slow this year, as it is only now that we are really witnessing the first signs of life – bud break. As you will see from the comparative photos (click on image to enlarge), we are probably about one or two weeks behind where we would normally be at this date. Bud break often happens during that last weeks of March, and generally speaking, by early April we can almost be at the point where some folliage starts to emerge. (The first two photos are from two previous vintages, and the final picture is 2018).

Of course, it is still very early days, and should the weather suddenly warm up then we can soon get back on track. It is not really until the flowering that we can make a true determination of when the harvest might be, but the way things stand it’s possible that it could be a late one in 2018. Vamos a ver!

Posted in Vineyards, Weather

This is the final video of our four part pruning sequel (albeit that the final part is not so much pruning, but rather burning). Before I start I should say that we don’t always burn the vine cuttings, sometimes they are shredded and ploughed back into the soil. There are two factors that determine whether we do this or not.

The first is quite simple – if there is any trace of disease in the dead wood, then the cuttings will be burned without question. Secondly, is the soil analysis. Every year we have all the soils in our vineyards analised, and then simply treat according to what is required (always natural bio-treatments approved by ecological agriculture). One of the reasons that we don’t need to re-cycle vine cuttings every year (adding more organic material) is because we already feed the soil during the growing cycle. Because we allow grass to grow naturally between the vines, then obviously we have to cut it, and when we do the mulch that is formed often provides enough natural nutrient on its own. In effect, any additional treatments that we use are only by way of a supplement to this natural process.

(Please remember that today’s video was filmed out of sequence, before the onset of the current period of cold, wet weather!)

Posted in Video, Vineyards

Just a joke!

April 2nd, 2018

Add a comment

You may have gathered yesterday, that it’s very unusual for me to post on a Sunday, except that yesterday was a special day. Just in case you didn’t guess, it was April 1st, April Fool’s Day, and my story of our denomination changing it’s name was just ‘fake news’ (as we tend to call it these days). Although, I have to say that at least part of the story was true. For example, I know from experience that many non-Spanish speakers, do struggle when it comes to pronouncing “Rias Baixas”. Many tend to say it very quickly, just mumble it under their breath, or ignore it completely. This probably explains why we are the only denomination in Spain where the grape variety is perhaps more widely known than the denomination itself. So, in reality, re-vamping the name a little might not be such a bad idea. We are after all, a comparatively young denomination and don’t exactly boast centuries of history.

In the meantime, we are still on Easter break. It’s all a bit odd in that some local towns and cities are working normally, and have already returned after the longish break, whereas Barrantes (where the bodega is located), is still on holiday.

Just as a final footnote – the weather is still horrible, cold and wet with a penetrating damp. Our vineyards are off to a very slow start as Spring has not really sprung as yet!

Posted in April Fools

Behind the scenes in certain Galician offices there have been some, more or less, secret discussions. Apparently, for the last couple of years, our denomination have been discussing the idea of renaming our very own wine region – Rias Baixas. Their concern has been that many consumers outside Spain are a bit intimidated by the name, especially when it comes to the pronunciation. Of course, the word Albariño is comparatively simple for most people to wrap their tongue around, but when it come to our ‘lower estuaries’, then it becomes more of a problem.

Their solution, apparently, is a slight revamping, which at first glace, I have to admit, looks a bit odd. The reason is that the new name is pretty much what you might describe as being ‘Spanglish’ – half Spanish and half English (but rolls much more easily off the tongue). In the near future an official announcement will be made, no doubt involving huge wine press coverage and some fanfare. 

I do not have the official date, but I can tell you (even though I’m not exactly sure that I’m supposed to), that very soon we will know as the ‘Low Rias’ wine region – complete with brand new logo.

It takes a bit of getting used to, but in the long term, if it makes it easier for the consumer, then it does make some sense.

Monthly Archives