Archive for the ‘April Fools’ Category

Just a joke!

April 2nd, 2018

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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!

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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’!!!

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E. CASTRO MARTIN FICHAWe have noticed over recent years the growing influence of the up-and-coming young winemakers in our denomination – many from outside the region. With them comes, not only new, updated winemaking techniques, but also new ideas of what an albariño should be. It seems that the latest trend in Rias Baixas is actually to do with the manipulation of the flavour profile of the finished wine, giving it a much riper, more exotic, almost tropical fruit. Of course, Galicia is almost as far removed from the tropics as you can get (especially at this time of year), but at least now our wines are going to reflect a bit more of a ‘sunshine personality’ in the future.

So how do we achieve this new style? Well, the answer is quite simple, and has actually been available to us for many years now. It’s down to the strain of yeast that we use during the alcoholic fermentation. I always mention to our visitors that the salesmen who arrive at our door these days, selling our wine making products, now offer up a complete catalogue of different active dried yeast each with it’s own distinct flavour profile. For white wines the choice is quite extensive and includes apple, pear, grapefruit, pineapple, butter (more for chardonnay based wines I think) and even banana. It would appear that the taste of the grape variety is almost secondary to the equation these days!

So, after much soul searching, and a couple of years of experimentation, Angela and I have finally succumbed to this new market trend. From the 2015 vintage we will be offering a range of three new fruit flavours – grapefruit, pineapple or another that we will simply call ‘tropical fruit’ (made from a blend of different tanks). I should add that we drew the line at banana flavour, which, whilst it had a certain appeal, was probably too far removed from our traditional albariño.

Over the next few weeks we will be in contact with our customers to get an idea of their preferences before we start our first bottlings, probably in May.

BCM 33cl CanAngela and I have been conscious for some time now that there is a strong demand in the market for more convenient packaging (probably owing to the wide acceptance of screw cap). So, rather than simply taking the more logical step of moving to Stelvin, we have now taken a much more radical step….. wine in a can!

To bottle in screw cap would have required at least some investment in new equipment, and so we decided that rather than just playing ‘catch up’, we would rather become pioneers within the Rias Baixas denomination, and make at least some of our wine in this brand new 33cl presentation. Out of habit I was inclined to say that we ‘bottled’ in 33cl, whereas the correct terminology should perhaps be ‘canned’. No doubt this will become more familiar as time goes by.

To test the market, we have only made a small number of cans – a ‘limited edition’ if you like, but I can tell you that there is already great interest in several markets. Vamos a ver!

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Back to nature

April 1st, 2014

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Naked HarvestHere at Castro Martin we always enjoy ‘hanging out’ in our vineyards, and we are often asked about our credentials relating to ‘au naturel’ production methods. We have a new idea for our next harvest which I think that this takes the concept to a whole new level! Now, Galicia is not necessarily the ideal place to prance around in the open air with no clothes, some of the breezes blowing in from the Ocean can be a bit nippy (and have been know to cause shrinkage of the berries). In addition, our pergolas are quite open and do not offer to much protection from the wind, although they do at least say that the Galicians themselves are really quite a hardy bunch.

The other downside to this plan is that, as all producers know, over exposure to the sun will inevitably cause the skins to wrinkle – this picture is perhaps a good illustration of exactly what I mean.

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French BullSheepdog

There’s many a story about dogs befriending cats, and lion cubs being adopted by other animals when rejected by their parents etc., etc., but I think that today’s posting tells quite a unique tale….. A French Bulldog working as a Sheepdog in a Spanish vineyard!

In recent years we have experienced quite a few problems with dogs in our Pazo vineyard, worrying our sheep, and sometimes even attacking them, but their relationship with Nana is quite different. Nana the French Bulldog is the pet of Angela’s sister Elizabeth, and has now been trained as a valuable member of our vineyard team. She is possibly the world’s first and only Bull-Sheepdog, trained to voice commands to round up our sheep each evening. It’s quite a surreal sight to see this tiny dog rushing round, often disappearing completely in the long grass, but still managing to keep our flock under control.

We have always claimed to be a family owned and managed business, and this is just another example of how we ‘keep it in the family’!

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Sadly for us, and for our industry, alcohol is too often abused, used as a way of self-medication when we are feeling low or rejected to drown our sorrows. It could be that we have lost a loved one, failed in an exam, been rejected by our girlfriend or perhaps by a gorgeous female fruit fly……..

I actually can’t believe that I’m writing this, but a study by the University of California in San Francisco has proved that male fruit flies turn to alcohol when they are rejected by female fruit flies that are hovering nearby. Now, the first question is fairly obvious. Why on earth were they researching this in the first place, and secondly, what relevance does this study have to our daily lives? Well, apparently, the answer is that frustrated flies have quite similar brain mechanisms to humans – the brain chemicals that control appetite actually correlate strongly with a thirst for alcohol, especially when we are feeling rejected. In tests, the flies, perhaps surprisingly, favoured a liquid mixture spiked with 15% alcohol in preference to other fruits, such as rotting bananas.

In similar studies mice, rats and monkeys also turned to drink after periods of isolation, bullying or after becoming victims of aggression.

The explanation is that when we are feeling low the levels of a compound called NPF in our brain falls, we get dysphoric, and this gives us a strong urge to drink. The object of the study therefore, is to develop a drug to enhance NPY activity, thus reducing the craving.

In summary, all I can say is that there must be an awful lot of frustrated fruit flies in our cellars around harvest time, either that or they just appreciate a good albariño when they taste one!

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