SWA Gold

June 8th, 2017

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Blimey! It’s happened again! It seems that no sooner do I make a comment suggesting that the consumer should pull the cork and make their own wine buying decisions (rather than simply following reviews, medals or points), than we receive another accolade…. In this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards in London, we have been awarded a gold medal for our 2015 A2O ‘Sobre Lias’ Albariño!

The panel of judges is made up of a cross-section of tasters, including sommeliers, buyers, consultants and a handful of MW’s. The judges were enamoured with our wine’s fresh, sprightly style, awarding it Gold, whilst also commenting: ” the acidity is quite perky, and there’s a nice spritz on the finish” – ” I am reminded of the sea shore – mineral and fresh – but the palate shows honey notes, along with lemon peel. Rich yet fresh, and long-lasting”.

The wall

June 7th, 2017

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OK, so maybe not the most exciting news, but the extension to our grape reception area continues. I should add that all the work is being carried out ‘in-house’, by our own guys – so we can just add ‘builders’ to the list of jobs that they are already able to do. Oh, and by the way, and when I say build, I mean BUILD! The way these guys construct things, they are not going to fall down in a hurry. The retaining wall they they are adding now is not only supported by steel rebar, but will then be strengthened by a pour of concrete. Barring natural disasters, it will be around long after I’m gone.

I guess the only drawback is that they do have other jobs to fit in around the construction, both in the vineyards, and in the bodega. Tomorrow for example, we will be bottling the first of our 2016 wines (I will comment about that later), so I think it would be fair to say that at least they don’t suffer from boredom!

Posted in Bodega, Harvest

This coming weekend we have a local wine fair in the village of Barrantes (the village where Castro Martin is actually located). Oddly, despite this being in the very heart of Albariño country, the festival actually celebrates the tinto wines of Salnés. The vast majority of red wines from Rias Baixas are made with the grapes of Caiño tinto, Espadeiro, Loureira tinta and even Mencia (although Mencia is perhaps more widely known from our neighbouring denominations of Bierzo, Ribera Sacra and Valdeorras).

There are other red grape varieties, which when vinified, make a low alcohol, but very intensely coloured, tooth-staining wine, perhaps the most famous of which is known as Tinto de Barrantes. The problem is, that the grape varieties used to make many of these local wines are not officially permitted, and so the wines can only be made for personal consumption (well, that’s the official line anyway). My guess is that this is why the festival is called the Tinto do Salnés Festival, and not the Tinto Barrantes Festival….

This year’s publicity poster does however, include a jolly pink pulpo (probably stained by the local tinto), and also shows the traditional white ceramic wine cups containing a liquid that looks suspiciously like our very own Barrantes red wine!

Posted in Fiestas, Local News

More points!

May 25th, 2017

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OK, I confess that I was so excited that I missed this…. Our A2O also received 91 points from the American Wine & Spirits Magazine. I missed it because they (confusingly in my opinion) refer to both of our wines as Castro Martin. True, they are both made by Bodegas Castro Martin, but in the winery we refer to them by their individual brand names. Actually, the truth is that we refer to them as A2O and BCM.

So here are their notes: A2O Sobre Lías Albariño (Best Buy) The fruit of vines between 20 and 50 years old, this spends six months on the lees to enhance the creaminess and depth of its aromas. The texture is shaped by taut acidity, full of mineral flavors and notes of citrus that leave a fresh sensation of lime and white stones.

Posted in Business, Press, Tasting

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’.

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