Don’t get me wrong, it’s always a good feeling to receive a positive review, or perhaps a medal for one of our wines, but to be honest I still find myself in two minds as to their real value. On the one hand it’s great to have the endorsement of a third party taster, whereas on the other hand my own philosophy has always been to simply pull the cork and decide for yourself if you like the wine or not. Of course the reason behind my thinking is that the appreciation of wine is completely subjective – personal taste. For example, I know some wines that I think are fantastic, whereas other people that I know just don’t like them at all. I have always said that it would be very boring if we all liked the same things, no matter what the product, and that’s why the world of wine is so interesting and open to everyone. Having said all that, I do appreciate that in some markets the points do still count!

When it comes to Castro Martin wines, then it goes without saying that I am more than just a little bit biased, after all, I do help to make them. However, on the occasions that we do receive a good score (or perhaps a bit of silverware) it simply serves to reinforce our own belief that we are doing a good job. After all, it’s no good making wines that only Angela and myself appreciate. 

So the news is that this week we were awarded 92 points (and wines of the month Best Buy) by the Wine and Spirits magazine in the U.S. They said of our Castro Martin Family Estate ‘Sobre Lias’ – “From 50-year-old vines in Salnés, this wine aged for six months on its lees, developing an unusual combination of juicy pineapple flavor and stoniness. It’s nervous in acidity, tightening around the leesiness to create an intense, savage albariño. Far from the simple and creamy whites that populate Rías Baixas, this explores new territories, its full-on fruit flavors and mineral notes giving a deep and immersive complexity. You can drink it now with fried scallops, or cellar it for two to three years.”

Say no more!

Posted in Business, Press

Reception floorWork in the bodega is already underway to prepare for the 2017 harvest!

At peak times during nearly every harvest our grape reception area can be stretched to the limit, and this can, potentially, cause delays in getting fruit into the presses. It’s really just a question of space – moving grapes through in a strict rotation, ensuring that different parcels are not mixed, and that presses are loaded to their optimum capacity. When the reception is completely full it’s possible to experience a bit of a log-jam, and it then becomes a huge game of chess maneuvering grapes into the correct position!

The solution however, is quite simple – expand the floor area to give us more space to work. At the same time it is our intention to install a case washing machine, meaning that we can re-cycle clean cases more quickly and make the whole reception process more efficient. The construction itself is not too difficult, simply raising the floor from ground level so that it meets the raised (vehicle unloading) level.

The first step (as you can see in today’s photo) is to fill the floor space with rocks and ballast. I will update our progress over the coming weeks.

Posted in Bodega, Harvest

A to ZWell, you learn something new every day as they say, but only recently did I discover that Castro Martin actually has something in common with one of the largest companies on the planet!

One of our most Frequently Asked Questions is about the logo/name of one of our brands – A2O, and to be honest I feel just a little embarrassed when I have to explain it’s origin…. but not any more. It seems that the logic behind it (if you can call it logic) is shared with one of my most frequently used websites, Amazon. Please allow me to explain.

The name A2O quite simply comes from the word AlbariñO, which starts with the letter A and ends with the letter O, in other words from A to O (and we have simply substituted the word ‘to’ with the number two, and given it an accent to add a bit of a Spanish flavour). So that’s the story – clear as mud, I’m sure you’ll agree!

OK, so what about Amazon you ask, and where’s the similarity? Well, did you ever notice the arrow in their logo that underscores the name? Do you know why it’s there? I didn’t. If you look at the placement of the arrow it actually points from the A to the Z, and yes, you may have guessed already – the implication is quite simply that AmaZon stocks everything from A to Z (or should that be A2Z?!)

I have to admit that knowing this makes me feel a whole lot better, and it goes without saying that the next time someone asks about A2O, I will also make a point of explaining our very tenuous link with Amazon.

Final clueOver the last two or three months I have dropped a few clues about something new happening in the bodega. The launch of whatever this might be is imminent, and so I thought I would add one final clue before we make it official.

As you may know, I am quite a keen amateur photographer, and many of the photographs that you see both on our website and on our social media pages are taken by me. It is however, rare to see me at work, but in today’s picture (working on our new project), I have been captured in the act, so to speak. On a few previous occasions when I have been taking photos I have caught myself in a mirror or perhaps in some type of reflection, but it is really odd to actually see how others perceive me when I am working…. the photographer’s photograph, if that makes any sense?

Anyway, in a couple of weeks we will be making an official announcement about our closely guarded secret, so watch this space, as they say.

CarbohydratesApparently scientists have recently discovered that there is now a sixth taste that the human palate can detect – chips (or should that be French Fries?) Well, maybe not chips per say, but more specifically, starch. Until now the five primary tastes have been sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (the latter, a group of savoury tastes, added to the list as recently as seven years ago).

To be honest I have always considered starch as almost more of a texture, or a sensation, rather than a taste – slightly drying, slightly mouth-puckering, sometimes even a little tart. We now learn however, that starchy foods, often referred to as ‘carbs’ or carbohydrates, should be treated as a separate taste, and could explain our love of foods high in carbohydrate content such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes (fried or otherwise). Previously it was always assumed that our addiction to carbs was caused by the sugar element, but apparently this belief has now been disproved.

Not content with this, scientists are continuing their quest to uncover, or should I say, to classify even more tastes that the human palate can detect and/or recognise. For example, metallic tastes or the specific taste sensation from carbonated drinks. Of course, every individual has their own degree of sensitivity to smell/taste, but almost certainly professionals (such as wine tasters) who work on a daily basis using these senses, will probably be much more receptive to any new discoveries.

Posted in Tasting

ClosuresIt was not too many years ago that popular belief pretty much dictated that albariño needed to be enjoyed whilst it was young, in it’s infancy, almost as a ‘primeur’ wine. Since that time (and especially here at Castro Martin), we have been working non-stop to educate our customers that this idea is simply a myth. However, in order to improve and preserve the longevity of any wine there are still many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Of all the different factors that can influence ageing potential some of the most important/obvious include:

  • The structure of the wine itself – that it is well balanced and vinified accordingly (for example, extended lees ageing will add longevity, whereas rapid fermentation at warmer temperature will often produce short-lived wines).
  • That it is bottled correctly, and protected as far as possible against oxidation – this includes the correct levels of sulphur and most importantly the type and quality of closure used.
  • That the wine is transported and stored correctly, preferably in a cool, dark cellar.

As you may already know we take the business of closures very seriously, not just from the point of view of avoiding taint, but perhaps more importantly, in order to ‘manage’ the ageing process. There are actually several types of closures on the market these days that allow contolled levels of OTR (Oxygen Transmission Rate) which enables the wine maker to maintain at least some degree of control over the speed at which their wine will evolve (assuming that at least some of the steps mentioned above have been followed). Of course, there can be no absolute guarantees attached to this idea, and then added to this equation is the experience and/or personal taste of the individual consumer. Some will prefer to drink their wine fresh and fruity, whereas other might prefer to wait for wine to mature, developing slightly more complex ‘secondary’ aromas and flavours.

I should mention that on our recent trip to the States (in Spring 2017), many customers were actually blown away by our 2013 and 2014 albariños. Not specially selected cuvées, simply wines with a bit of bottle age tasted straight ‘off the shelf’.

747You may already know that, owing to adverse weather conditions, the outward leg of our recent trip to the U.S.A. was re-routed via London, and also included a change of carriers, from Iberia to British Airways. Owing to the fact that our journey was so eventful, it didn’t occur to me until after the flight that it is possible we were sharing the flight with our own wines. The difference being that we were in the cheap seats at the back, whilst our wine could have been in the pointy bit at the front….. First Class.

We are proud to say that we have been working with British Airways for several years now. although our supply to them is not continuous. The explanation is that First Class passengers are naturally quite loyal to their preferred airline, and therefore there is a high degree of ‘repeat business’ – the same passengers flying the same routes on a regular basis. To counteract this, British Airways rotate their wine lists, not only over different time periods, but also on different routes. For one listing we might be on North America and the Caribbean, on another we might be on Asian, and so on, The point is that we simply send the wine out, and usually have little idea where it might end up, or how many air miles it will clock up! Therefore, it is possible that our wine was sharing the same flight as us, but we simply didn’t know it.

In 2016 British Airways’ First Class customers consumed more than 160,000 bottles of champagne, 133,000 bottles of red wine and 150,000 bottles of white wine on board flights, and in the same year were voted the best overall cellar at the Business Traveller Cellars in the Sky Awards. We would like to believe that Castro Martin might have played a very small part in achieving that recognition.

Posted in Odds & Sods, Travel

CeilingAt this this time of year there’s not usually too much happening in the bodega, which is just one of the reasons that we chose to travel (having just arrived back from our epic tour of the USA). Our main winter chore of pruning is pretty much at an end, and so many of our efforts have been focused on the wine cellar itself where we have been undertaking a huge programme of repairs, cleaning, painting and also a little construction. Much of this work was carried out during our travels, hence, upon our return, we immediately noticed some big changes. The most dramatic change was actually in one of our storage areas, where the ceiling was completely replaced.

Today’s photo must qualify as possibly one of the most boring I have ever posted, but I can tell you that it is really difficult to make a flat, grey roof, look exciting in a picture! It shows our carton storage area which has been completely transformed (albeit mostly from an aesthetic point of view). Having said that, visitors to our cellar will probably not notice any difference – after all, when was the last time you really looked up at the ceiling of any building (unless perhaps it was the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel)? Perhaps we can give Fran a tin of emulsion and ask him to paint a few frescos depicting life in our bodega!

Posted in Bodega, Odds & Sods

9 MarilulaSo the latest clue in our ongoing artistic puzzle is an odd little beast – half mariposa (butterfly), half libélula (dragonfly) – hence the name we have given it, our ‘marilula’. In English I guess we might call it a butter-dragon?

By the way, just in case you didn’t already guess, the story about visiting Cuba and selling albariño in exchange for cigars was a just a bit of fun (for April Fool’s Day!!) The nearest we actually got to Cuba was ‘Little Cuba’ in Miami, which is where the photo was taken…..

Little CubaJust a short boat ride (or swim perhaps) from the coast of Florida lies Cuba, and this is now the very last stop of our tour. Of course finding importers for foreign goods is one thing, but finding the dollars for payment can be even more difficult. Negotiations have been tough, but we think we might have found a solution that will work for both parties…. our new importer will pay for our wine with their finest Cohiba Cigars. We will probably make a selection from their classic line – Esplendidos, Robustos and Exquisitos.

Certainly the paperwork is going to be complicated at it will mean extra work for Luisa in our office, but we still feel that this is a good deal, and will add a completely new dimension to our range. It did occur to me that in future we might not simply be making tastings, but possibly we might have to organise ‘smokings’!!!

Posted in April Fools

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