Re-connected

February 8th, 2018

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After one freezing day without power we are now back up and running again – normal service can be resumed. Ironically, on the day that we had no electricity we were contacted (via a remote e-mail connection) by a transport company that wanted to collect an export order. Of course, physically loading the truck would not be difficult – the wine was prepared and ready to go, but then, there was one big problem….. the paperwork!

When we are exporting goods (as an ‘intra-community’ transaction, in tax and duty suspension), they have to be accompanied by official customs paperwork. These documents are very detailed and have to include the registration number of the vehicle – this is simply because if the truck is stopped and inspected at any point by the police, then the driver can prove that the goods are being moved legally.

Because these vehicle details cannot be added to the documents until the last minute, with no power, this rendered the collection impossible. Unfortunately only one fixed PC in our office is loaded with the official customs software, and therefore we couldn’t simply use one of our laptops. Of course, the secondary problem being that we couldn’t print the documents anyway (a full set of papers have to be physically attached to the goods in transit). Unfortunately, the collection had to be postponed. 

The good news is that our office heating, computers, printers, telephone system (and teapot) have now been fully restored!

Cold & cut-off!!

February 6th, 2018

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It was just over a year ago that we had a small fire in an electrical box connecting us to the grid, temporarily cutting off our power supply. Well, today, after lots of planning, quotes and discussion, the temporary repair is now going to be made permanent. Our electrical contractors are now working on installing the new junction box (pictured on the floor here). Of course this means that we are without power, we assume for most of the day.

To be honest (apart from the fact that it is not raining), they really couldn’t have chosen a worse day to do it – it’s freezing! Probably the coldest day of the winter so far. The outside temperature is around 0°C (32°F), and because the power is off, we have absolutely no form of heating. So winter jackets are on, but trying to catch up on a bit of filing whilst wearing gloves is almost impossible.

It never ceases to amaze me how we take electricity for granted, and you really don’t realise how many things you can’t do with out it. Sure, our laptops are working, but without power, we have no internet connection without setting up a mobile phone network. And whilst our mobile phones might be working, our fixed lines are down, as our small phone network also relies on electrical power. But the biggest disaster of all? No tea! We can’t even boil any water…..

Looking for a leak

January 30th, 2018

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Just before Christmas I wrote about a serious leak from a water pipe in the ceiling above the tank room of the bodega. Well, the saga continues even now. As in the case of many a water leak it isn’t always easy to find the exact source, because, as we all know, water will simply permeate until it eventually finds a place to escape (in this case the ceiling of the bodega).

Nearly one month later, and after much digging and breaking of concrete, we hope that we might have finally located the origin of our mini-waterfall. So now it is simply a question of repairing all the holes and self-inflicted damage that we have caused during our search. The first steps will be sand, cement and concrete (including waterproof membranes and paints), and then finally, repairing and re-painting the ceiling of the tank room itself.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, we were able to isolate certain sections of our water network and these have been cut off during the search – the water was not been pouring through the roof for the entire month! Fortunately, we have other sources of water to work with and we were not completely dehydrated…..

Posted in Bodega, Odds & Sods

Writer’s block?

January 23rd, 2018

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When I sit down to write our blog and/or Facebook page, I always try to think of something new, original and interesting to say – but it’s not always easy! Of course there is always work going on, admittedly at this time of year, it is mostly in the vineyards. The pruning continues apace, but what else is new?

My ‘new’ idea for 2018 is to start adding a few more videos to our pages during the year. For example, I talk about pruning a lot, but have never actually shown how it’s done. Pruning on pergolas is always a bit more complicated than the norm, it’s not simply a question of making the cut, and the old wood just falling to the floor. When the actual cut is made the old vine is still very much attached. The long canes are always well and truly wrapped around the supporting wires, and have to be removed rather carefully. Applying too much force and simply swinging on the wires would soon bring them down, and believe me, repairing wires is even more complicated – a highly skilled and specialised profession (‘alambrador’).

The actual task of removing this dead wood from the wires is known as ‘derramar’ or sometimes ‘sacar vides’, and as with pretty much every pruning related job, it  means working overhead. Indeed, the only work that is not done staring at the skies is removing the cuttings, piling them up and burning them.

Unfortunately today’s weather is not conducive to videos or photography for that matter, with intermittent drizzle, but I do promise that within the next week or two I will actually post a short clip of all the action!

You might think that living in an isolated corner of Spain, we might escape from the epidemic that is currently sweeping across Europe, and indeed many different parts of the world. I am of course talking flu, or ‘gripe’ as it is known in Spain. This year it seems that we have been hit by as many as three different strains, including ‘Aussie’ flu (H3N2 – probably from sub-tropical regions) and Japanese flu (‘Yamagata’ influenza B).

Of course jet travel now gives us the ability to fly half way across the planet in less than a day, and so it is hardly surprising that some of these viruses can have exotic, long-distant origins. Indeed, I have often thought that an aircraft cabin can be an extremely unhealthy environment, (especially if the person behind you is coughing and sneezing in your ear, and there is simply no means of escape). We may scoff at the Japanese who often wear surgical masks on public transport, but when you’re lying in your bed with your head throbbing and your muscles aching, then perhaps it’s not such a bad idea after all.

Here at Castro Martin we have not been immune – since the beginning of 2018 more than half of our permanent staff have been infected, including myself. Fortunately it appears that the flu vaccine I had at the beginning of the winter has helped to moderate some of the symptoms, but I am still staying away from the cold, humid atmosphere of the bodega until I am 100% again. I also encourage our people to stay at home when they have colds or flu, as working in a small, confined office, it will simply be passed on in no time at all.

January Blues

January 15th, 2018

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It’s January, 2018, and there’s not much happening at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, we have sent out a few orders, and our guys are busy pruning in the vineyards, but other than that our days are short, dark, and now just a little bit damp too. The Christmas holiday rain has continued into the new year, and there have been a few thunderstorms. The weather has been changing quickly – one moment we have black skies, thunder, lightning and driving rain, but then, within an hour or two, the sky is almost completely clear and the sun is bursting through!

After a protracted holiday period (a common feature of the Spanish calendar) it can be difficult to regain momentum, but there is planning to be done, bottlings to be made, and of course, we mustn’t forget that our 2017 wines still need to be tasted regularly. Later in the spring we will decide the best moment for racking – removing the wine from the lees, and finally some of these tanks will be blended before they eventually become the finished article.

Within our D.O. the length of time that an albariño needs to remain on its lees before it can be called ‘Sobre Lias’ is just a little vague, although the very minimum is usually accepted to be around 3 months. Technically, this would mean that we could rack our tanks now if we wanted, but in the case of every sobre lias wine at Castro Martin, we always leave them resting for a minimum of 6-8 months, but depending on the vintage, some can be left up to a year!

 

Posted in Bodega, Weather

‘Hunch’ weather? Well, apparently this is a real word dating back to the 18th century. For example, when you have drizzle, rain or wind that makes you hunch up when you walk, then this can be described as hunch weather – at that is exactly what we have at the moment.

After months of dry weather (interspersed with just a few odd days of rain), we finally have a reasonably sustained period of wet weather. By coincidence, these recent periods of rain have coincided almost perfectly with the Spanish holidays! The holiday weekend of 8th/9th/10th December was wet and stormy, but then the sun and dry weather returned more or less until 25th December (and it has been raining ever since). Don’t get me wrong, Galicia is desperate for this rainfall, but clearly it would just be a bit fairer if it happened when we are all working… Of course these might be my ‘famous last words’ as it will probably now rain for the rest of 2018!

Posted in Weather

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!

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