Archive for the ‘Local News’ Category

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”.

Galicia burning…

October 16th, 2017

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Yesterday was a black day in Galicia – when forest fires suddenly sprung up in nearly every corner of our Province. It was almost as though they had been orchestrated, and indeed, Police are already saying that many had been started deliberately. 

Meteor-logically Sunday was already quite odd, in that by 8.30am on this mid-October day, the outside temperature was 23°C / 74°F (even before the sun had appeared over the horizon). The wind had picked up, blowing directly from the south, which after a summer of very little rainfall, had created the perfect environment for forest fires. (These warm winds had long been forecast, which is why I suspected that perhaps the pyromaniacs had chosen this particular moment to strike).

Three people died during the night, many homes and some businesses were destroyed, and one petrol station exploded in the inferno. Local people were rushing around with buckets, forming human chains, in a futile attempt to protect their homes. Of course, this was nothing on the scale of the catastrophe in California, but when people die, it is still a very serious event. The only positive note to this story is that it did start to rain, and I believe that this has helped to bring at least some of the fires under control. Today is still damp, so hopefully relief will come quite quickly.

Posted in Galicia, Local News

For the last couple of months I have been hinting in my posts about something new coming to Castro Martin – and finally it’s here – a new label!

A label? Is that all? So why all the fuss? I hear you ask. Well, the answer is quite simple –  the fuss is because this is something of an historic change.

The very first, and original brand of the new era (since the current bodega was built in 1981), is Casal Caeiro, created by Angela’s father some 35 years ago. (The Martin Family had been making albariño long before this, but mainly for local consumption, without labels, before labels were a legal requirement). Since it’s inception the Casal Caeiro label has slowly evolved and appeared in many different guises, but until now they have always had one thing in common – the Pazo vineyard had always appeared on the label.

In a break with tradition we decided to employ the services of local artist Elena Gomez Dahlgren to come up with something different (and original), and I think that her new design idea is both unique and spectacular. A quadriptych – a set of four labels that when displayed side-by-side join to form one larger picture.

The new 2016 vintage, using this presentation, is available from this week (albeit that our website will take a little time to catch up). New photos already appear on our webpages, and updated fiche and bottle shots are also available. In addition to this, we will eventually add more information about the inspiration behind the design, and also about our artist, but in the meantime you will simply need to buy some wine to see this work of art first hand. Oh, and by the way, you will need to buy at least four bottles to see the complete design!

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

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…..

Need a hand?

March 8th, 2017

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9 handA week or so ago it was a mystery fish – today it is a ‘helping’ hand. So what does this all mean? What is the significance of today’s hand, who does it belong to, and how does it relate to our wines? Well, it’s just another piece of our artistic puzzle, and in a month or two all will be revealed…..





Posted in Local News, Oddballs

Something fishy?

February 20th, 2017

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9 fishSpoiler alert: Is there something “fishy” happening at Castro Martin? Well, perhaps fishy might not be the correct terminology, because it’s really more a question of some changes that we have in the pipeline. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about personnel (I’m not retiring just yet), but just some ‘upgrades’ to different parts of our business. If you want to keep abreast of new developments then you will simply have to watch this space!

Posted in Local News, Oddballs

Brush fireLast weekend we had a small but dramatic event in our village, but more significantly, almost in our bodega vineyard…. a brush fire! A week or two ago I wrote about a small area of forest clearance at the back of our bodega, restoring our view of the Atlantic Ocean after some years of being masked by trees. Well, the bad news is that a different area of eucalyptus forest immediately adjacent to this (forming a boundary with our vineyard) was left untouched. Under Spanish law it is the responsibility of every land owner to keep undergrowth in a forested area well trimmed and under control, precisely for the reason of reducing fire risk. Unfortunately, in the case of this forest, it had not been done.

In the early hours of the Monday morning we received a call from our neighbours, living next to the bodega, to say that firefighters wanted access to the back of our property – the forest was alight! The good news is that the blaze was bought under control quite quickly before it managed to really take hold, and in the end was more or less confined to the undergrowth. Had the trees themselves gone up in flames, then it is actually quite possible that it would have spread to our vineyard, and so we have to be quite thankful to our local fire fighters for their prompt and effective actions.

If the fire taken place later in the summer then it is possible that our fruit could have been tainted by the smoke, but I think that this fire took place early enough in the growth cycle to have very little or no effect whatsoever. I once recall tasting a wine which had become tainted by smoke and I can tell you that it is nothing like the toasted oak effect that comes from a barrel, it is simply quite unpleasant. I am happy to report that, in our case, the only temporary damage might be to my t-shirt that reeks of smoke after I ventured into to the forest to take a few photos!

ENAC AngelaBack in 2010 the office of our Denomination set off on a journey. Their goal? To become the very first denomination in Spain to obtain official accreditation for the certification of food and agricultural products, according to the criteria set out in UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17065.

Owing to the huge diversity of vineyards and bodegas controlled by the D.O. this was never going to be an easy task – every single producer, without exception, had to comply with the required standards in order for the plan to succeed. The first and most daunting task was to produce and implement a manual of Quality Control, a process which took more than four years to complete. This quality control manual gives advice and instructions relating to every aspect of production, including vineyard management, winemaking, labelling, bottling and only concludes when every wine has been officially tasted and analysed by the D.O. It goes without saying that every step of the process also has to be carefully recorded, thereby providing full traceability as required by law.

With just over 50% of all Rias Baixas wines now being sold in export, this official accreditation is designed not only to be a further guarantee of quality, but also serves to enhance consumer confidence in all the wines produced within our denomination.

The award ceremony, when all bodegas were handed their certificates of accreditation, took place in March, when Angela stepped forward in her capacity as manager and winemaker of Castro Martin.

Speed bumpsIt seems that there is an ever increasing number of restrictions placed on motorists these days, in attempts to keep us sober, within the speed limit, and generally obeying the law. Well, to be honest I don’t really have a problem with any of that, it’s really more of a frustration that I have relating to the methods of enforcement that they use. The latest speed cameras for example, don’t now simply take a picture at one given moment, and measure your speed on the spot, we now have average speed cameras, measuring you average speed over a given distance. In a way this is not a bad thing, as it now avoids the dangerous scenario where the driver in front suddenly sees a fixed camera and slams on his brakes. However, we do eventually get to know where these static cameras are placed, and slow down accordingly, but usually only for a hundred metres on either side perhaps.

However, speed cameras are not the pet subject of my post today, it is rather speed ramps, speed humps or sleeping policemen as they are sometimes known. Having discovered roundabouts only a few years ago and introduced them at every conceivable juncture, Spanish traffic planners latest discovery is the speed hump….. In towns and villages all around Spain (or at least here in Galicia), you can’t drive a hundred metres without encountering one – almost literally. Take our Provincial capital Pontevedra for example. It is a brilliant place to visit – if you’re on foot. If you’re a motorist then maybe not so much, and my advice would be, have your car suspension checked before you arrive. Nearly the whole of the centre of Pontevedra is pedestrianised, which of course is great for your evening stroll (paseo) around the city, or your window shopping perhaps, but entering and leaving the city will probably be a bit of a bumpy ride. Just to prove that I am not exaggerating, the other day I had occasion to drive from the Consello Regulador offices in the centre of the city, to my computer repair shop a bit further around the ‘ring road’ – a distance of just under 3km (1.86 miles). Sad person that I am, I counted the speed bumps (most of which are large and accommodate pedestrian crossings)……. There were 28!! This works out almost exactly at an average of one crossing every hundred metres. From a motorists perspective perhaps I should be asking the question, if my suspension is eventually damaged, will the local council pay for the repair? I think I already know the answer to that one.