Christmas 2016 LightsFirstly, and most importantly, we simply want to thank all our friends and customers most sincerely for their continued support during 2016. This is without doubt, the very best gift that we receive each year.

In many ways 2016 was a quite an uneventful year, albeit that we continue to increase our business on the high seas, this year adding Royal Caribbean to our growing list of cruise ship customers. I have to say that cruising is not really my thing, but should add that if we are ever invited to organise any on-board tutored tastings, then I will be the first to pack my bag!

The summer of 2016 (as you may already know), was hot and very dry. The resulting harvest was slightly smaller than usual, but with very concentrated grape must, slightly lower acidity and a touch more alcohol than usual. All the normal traits of a hot vintage. However, the wines are very ripe, fruity and attractive, and I have no doubt that they will be well received at their launch during 2017.

Finally, we simply send you our thanks and our very best wishes for a happy, healthy, peaceful holiday season and prosperous New Year.

Andrew, Angela and the team at Castro Martin

Posted in Fiestas, Other

QuizI spend quite a lot of time browsing wine subjects on the web, and on Saturday I stumbled across a site claiming that, by answering a few simple questions, they could determine the type of white wine that I should drink. I put it to the test…. but in a slightly mischievous way – by working in reverse and trying to steer the quiz toward the answer that I wanted. In other words, to force the algorithm to recommend albariño as my wine of choice.

When you already know the character traits of a particular grape variety then it’s actually not that difficult. The quiz asks a series of questions with multiple choice answers, and at my very first attempt I managed to arrive at the following answer: “The wine you should try is Pinot Grigio. You like a crisp, refreshing white wine, and Pinot Grigio is the perfect fit. But you should also try Albariño from Spain”

Wine Apps are becoming more and more popular, in restaurants for example, offering consumers alternative advice to that of a sommelier. Also, by using a phone’s camera these Apps can recognise a wine label, and so feedback can be very quick and convenient (especially if you find yourself standing in the middle of a retail outlet struggling to make a decision). The only possible downside is that the database of many of these Apps is built up around customer recommendations in a similar way to Trip Advisor, so I guess that not all of the advice might agree with your own opinion or taste. In the end, as I always say, my best and only advice is to pull the cork and taste!

Posted in Tasting, Technology

PavoI have long maintained that the enjoyment and appreciation of food and wine is very much a matter of personal taste. Thankfully we are not all the same and have differing opinions on many things, including how we judge different flavour combinations and how well they may or may not work together. Of course, there are no definitive rules about the ‘marriage’ of food and wine, and so the final decision always comes down to the individual palate.

Even if I don’t always agree with the recommendations that I am offered, or read about, I can often understand the logic and reasoning behind many suggestions. On occasions however, there are some ideas that simply leave me scratching my head in puzzlement.

Our own Denomination for example, has been running a fabulous series of adverts highlighting the food types that can be recommended with our very own albariños. Some quite obvious, such as fish, seafood, sushi (and recently turkey). Others slightly less obvious, including meat and Mexican food. Finally, there is at least one that leaves me just a bit baffled – tartare. Initially, I had assumed that the recommendation was for a tartare of salmon and albariño combination, but on closer examination it proved that I was wrong – it is a tartare of red meat.

Only yesterday, on Facebook, I learned about a new book entitled “How to drink like a Billionaire”, in which the author Mark Oldman claims that “the weight of a richer style albariño stands up to the meaty goodness of a burger”. Well, that’s his opinion, and he’s entitled to it, but personally I don’t agree…. Perhaps he could be thinking about Californian albariño that weighs in at 13 or 14% alcohol – ripe, full bodied, with plenty of alcohol to provide extra mouth-feel? My own idea is however, that our own wines from Galicia could prove to be just a bit thin and acidic for this pairing. To be honest they simply lack the weight and intensity, but more importantly, the tannin to support a juicy red meat. It is, for example, the tannin in red wine that bonds with and softens the fat molecules in the meat helping to release the flavour. Albariño? I am not so sure.

On the other hand, I can confidently recommend Castro Martin albariño with your Christmas Turkey!

Posted in Food & Wine

Holiday Season

December 6th, 2016

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HolidaysWhen it comes to holidays, both national and local,then Spain must enjoy one of the most generous allocations in the world. There are nearly a dozen National holidays each year, interspersed with a handful of local holidays, some regional, and others allocated at town or village level. In the context of organising our business, it’s sometimes difficult to know who’s working and who’s not…

December and January have quite a number of festivos, starting today, 6th December, with día de la Constitución, honouring the constitution of the country. On Thursday 8th December we have the Inmaculada Concepción – one of the most important Marian feast days in the calendar of the Catholic Church.

This year these two holidays fall on the most difficult days possible – Tuesdays and Thursday, meaning that, in theory at least, businesses would only be open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Bridge days (joining holidays together, or tagging them onto a weekend) are very common, but on this occasion where would you add an extra bridge day – unless you decide to close for the whole week? However, it’s a busy time of year to even contemplate this.

At Castro Martin we will close on Wednesday, meaning that we have a two day working week, on Monday and Friday only. Sounds good, but to be honest, it’s really just a bit untimely.

Posted in Bodega, Fiestas, Weather

Burn, baby, burn!

December 1st, 2016

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BurningI know that I have written about burning our vine cuttings many times before, but when I think about it, this is pretty much inevitable….. When you consider that nearly all the work that we do is fixed to an annual cycle – pruning, harvesting, wine making etc., not surprisingly it all comes around but once a year! So, if you notice that I am repeating myself, then I do apologise, but then again, we also have to take into account that we do pick up new readers all the time. (On the other hand it could just be that I am a bit senile and don’t remember writing about certain subjects before).

However, burning the vine cuttings is not quite as straight forward as you might imagine, it’s not simply just a question of putting a match and watching them burn. We actually have to apply, in advance, for permission, and this is only granted at certain times of year. The reason for this is actually quite straight forward – the fear and/or control of forest fires. Permissions have a duration of one week, and can simply be suspended if the weather suddenly becomes too windy or excessively hot.

I should also mention that vine cuttings are very good for barbecues – so time to get the salchicas out!

Posted in Vineyards

A time for giving

November 29th, 2016

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Gift packsNo sooner have we got our International shipping orders loaded and on the road, than we start with the slightly more modest (but equally as important), gift orders for the holiday season. As you might expect much of our ‘gift’ business is in the local Galician market, as local businesses send tokens of their appreciation to customers at the end of the year.

To be very honest making three bottle gift packs (see today’s photo) can be a bit fiddly and time consuming. Over the years we have tried many different types of ‘estuches’ (as they are known in Spanish), but not based purely on how good they look or how much they cost. We also have to take into consideration how complicated, and therefore, how much time it will take to assemble each empty case. Quite frankly some of them can be like a work of origami, and subsequently have to be avoided. We always have to take into account the simple equation: Time=Money!

Posted in Bodega, Business, Fiestas

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24th, 2016

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Happy Thanksgiving…. to all our American friends around the world!
I believe that one of the traditions of Thanksgiving is to tell friends and family what you have been thankful for during the preceding year. Well, I can only say that I would be thankful that I wasn’t trying to get home on 405 freeway in California yesterday.

Apparently, locals say that this freeway is known as the 405 because they say that the average journey time can often be 4 or 5 hours!

First storm of winter

November 21st, 2016

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First stormAs pruning gets underway in our vineyards, then so we are greeted by our first storms of the winter 2016/2017. After a long, dry summer, there have been some days of rain, but nothing really sustained and heavy, as we would normally expect during a typical Galician winter. That was until yesterday when we experienced a prolonged period of high winds and driving rain during the late evening. Not enough to cause any damage or flooding, but still quite a torrential downpour.

This first winter storm arrived from the Atlantic and was christened ‘Angus’ by UK weather experts (the name suggests that it should perhaps, have originated in Scotland). Indeed, the whole concept of naming storms is slightly odd in that, for the UK at least, the public were simply asked to suggest names to the Met Office. From these suggestions they compiled a list of names that will be used over the winter (but only for the more significant and potentially damaging storms). Later this year be prepared for Storms Doris and Wilbert!

Atlantic hurricanes are always give female names that are allocated by the World Meteorological Organization. The names come from six lists that are rotated on an annual basis. The idea of naming of storms was actually to make it easier for the public (especially those living on the coast) to track them. Prior to this a somewhat complicated system of latitude-longitude numbers had been used.

Posted in Weather

Tasting and the moon

November 15th, 2016

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Moon 1People who know me will also know that I can be quite conservative and traditional when it comes to certain aspects of wine making, tasting etc., but by way of contradiction there is one ‘off the wall’ hypothesis that I do actually subscribe to – the Biodynamic Calendar of wine tasting.

Wine tasting is certainly something that I have always taken very seriously, and consequently I still follow many strict rules on the days that I know I will be tasting – what I chose to eat (including the night before), not using strong mouthwash in the morning, and certainly not wearing aftershave! Of course there are also rules that apply to the tasting environment itself. OK, the inside of our tank room is hardly light and airy, but we can certainly make sure that it is odour free (some cleaning products, for example, can leave slight traces which can put you off the scent – pun intended).

With so many ‘controllable’ factors for a tasting, the Biodynamic Calendar is perhaps, therefore, something of a contradiction which on face value is not quite so logical or easy to explain….. To cut a long story short the theory is that tasting can be affected by the phases of the moon – some days are favourable and others are not, it’s as simple as that. The odd thing is that I do believe in it, but only because I have always thought that our own wines taste better on some days than others, and my experience shows that there is often a correlation with this calendar.

Only yesterday for example, I tasted the tanks of our new 2016 wines, which until now have shown great potential for the future and really excited me. At the end of an hour or so of tasting I was actually left a little deflated – perhaps I had simply overestimated the vintage? It troubled me for a while, and it was only then that I had the idea of consulting my little Biodynamic book.  It appeared that I could have simply chosen the wrong day to taste, and maybe it was yesterday’s ‘supermoon’ that had caused a bigger decline than usual? This is just my new theory, I will let you know!

Posted in Oddballs, Tasting

Carry on cruising

November 14th, 2016

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Rhapsody of the SeasA couple of months ago that I made a post about our new cruise ship customer – ‘The World – a residence at sea’, at the same time mentioning that we already sail on many a P&O/Cunard ship. It would now appear that this has become something of a trend, as we find ourselves listed with yet another new customer of the high seas – Royal Caribbean International Cruises. Quite naturally we are delighted to be pouring our wines for such prestigious customers, and in so many distant and celebrated locations around the world.

It does however, throw up an interesting question. In the annual export statistics that we supply to the office of our denomination, they require details of where our wines are being sold/distributed. If our albariños are now being poured on airlines and ships that are constantly changing location, what can we submit on the forms – how can we specify the country?…. Moving markets? World markets? I will have to think of some witty answer, but am open to suggestions!

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