Archive for the ‘People’ Category

It’s quite a well-known fact that Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister is Galician, and spends much of his vacation time here in Galicia – or Sanxenxo to be more specific, about 12km from our Bodega. Indeed, when we are there in summer it is not uncommon to see groups of rather sinister looking security guys hanging round on the street corners adjacent to his building.

However, another more closely guarded secret is that U.S. President Donald Trump also spends some time here (although it can be quite difficult to hide the huge outline of Air Force One as it touches down on the tiny Vigo airstrip).

In today’s photo we can see Donald (clearly in some sort of hi-tech disguise) as he breaks ground on his new golf resort in our Province.

(Fake News Alert!)

Addendum: I forgot to mention that this is not a ‘shopped’ photo, but is actually a real Galician woman called Dolores Leis.

So what exactly is a wine ‘influencer’ – who are they, what do they do, and where do they come from? Perhaps, before the internet, this was a simple question to answer. ‘Opinion makers’ were respected journalists (from newspapers or wine magazines) or perhaps very highly regarded authors. These days however, the picture has changed quite a lot, and the definition is no longer quite so clear.

Nowadays, by using social media, almost anyone with a little wine knowledge (sometimes little more than the average man in the street), can become an ‘authority’ on wine. With a plentiful number of web contacts these contributors can quickly build a following, eventually to the point where they can influence wine trends and buying habits.

There is a saying I believe, that too little knowledge can be a dangerous thing (in the hands of the wrong people), and that’s what worries me a bit. Whilst I do applaud many of the latest generation of bloggers and wine ‘influencers’, it’s just that sometimes when reading their posts I will come across wine ‘facts’ that are either misleading or just plain wrong. The problem is that in trying to over-simplify the subject, they are sometimes just publishing ‘fake wine news’ (or should I say fake wine facts). Simplifying the mystery of wine is of course really, really useful, and a great way to learn, but along with this goes a responsibility for making sound, accurate research and ensuring that what is being published to the world as facts, are indeed factual.

An award-winning and well-respected wine writer once told me: “Influencers is a term for those who have more readers than facts, more opinions than experience, and an audience not bright enough to know the difference”. This view might appear to be quite harsh, but I believe that the underlying message is quite simple – get your facts straight before you publish them otherwise your post might only serve to confuse your readers.


Posted in People, Press

Sometimes, when people acquire or inherit money their first impulse is to open their own restaurant, or perhaps build a wine cellar. I think that this is what you might call a ‘romantic idea’ – the fact that your name might appear above a restaurant door, or on your own wine label. Proof of this could be the number of Hollywood stars who have already taken this path (except that when they did, I very much doubt if they ever stopped to consider the long hours and hard work involved behind the scenes). Their only consideration was probably the end result – a bottle of their own wine or a nice location where they could entertain and/or impress their friends.

For us, this assumption can be something of an occupational hazard. For example, when we make a new acquaintance and mention that we have a wine cellar, you can almost see their eyes light up. Not necessarily because they expect a flood of free wine, but much more that they see it as a potential day out – a visit and guided tour of a wine cellar. In many instances they actually extend themselves an ‘auto-invitation’, by saying “Oh, we must come and visit you”. When this happens I always ask myself the same question – if we told them that we owned a shoe shop, would they necessarily want to visit and see how a shoe shop is run? I very much doubt it!

The reason that I mention this now is because this happened to us only a few days ago. Upon meeting our new next-door neighbour for the first time, at the very first mention of wine cellar, the auto-invite was extended.

The amusing side to this story (which is 100% true), is that his profession is that of undertaker. Suffice to say that we did not ask for a reciprocal visit!


Masterclass EYou may have notice that there have been no posts on our sites for the last week or so, and that’s quite simply because we have been travelling. Now, the hotel where we stayed in London claimed to have free internet – and it did – provided that you didn’t mind waiting half an hour to download a simple document or e-mail…. Completely useless! That’s another story, but does explain why we have been silent.

Of all the travelling that we do and the visits that we make, by far the most productive use of our time is training. We were invited by our UK importer to hold a “Materclass” for their London sales team – an opportunity just too good to refuse. Visiting individual customers and holding small tastings is one thing, but having the opportunity to ‘educate’ a large group of sales people is something else. It’s what I call the ‘cascade effect’. By preaching our message to one small group, this can, potentially, be transmitted down to hundreds of customers at the business end of our supply chain. Of course, it goes without saying that the more knowledge that we pass on to the team, then hopefully, the more confident they will be in going out to push our wines. The long and short of it is that we love doing these presentations, and above all else, our goal is that we will be creating new ambassadors for Castro Martin and our brands.

I think our presentation was well received, but more importantly, our wines showed really well as we tasted our way through them. We can talk and educate until we are blue in the face, but our wines? Well, we let them speak for themselves….

Posted in Business, People, Travel

U.S. Visitors

July 3rd, 2015

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Visit 2015We have been pretty tied up at the bodega this week, with a group of visitors from the U.S. market. Our importers Frederick Wildman made their second annual visit to Castro Martin, bringing with them a selection of their regional distributors. The States of New York, California, North Carolina, Maryland, Texas and Tennessee were all represented.

After nearly two days with us I think it would be fair to say that they were well and truly indoctrinated into the ways of Rias Baixas, and more especially those of Castro Martin. Not only did they visit vineyards and the wine cellar, where we conducted various tastings, but they also had the opportunity to taste some of our local dishes, in both traditional and contemporary locations. They even visited the local fish market with one of Galicia’s top chefs, Xosé Cannas, to buy the ingredients and watch their lunch being prepared for them. I believe that this all helped to create a good impression of our region, and hopefully have created nearly a dozen new ambassadors for Castro Martin albariño.

At the end of their visit we did even contemplate holding a small test of what they had learnt, but decided that this might be stretching their newly found enthusiasm just a little too far!

Caterina & RobertLast week Bodegas Castro Martin welcomed it’s youngest ever visitor…. Our friends Caterina and Robert visited from Oporto (only an hour or two from our door), accompanied by their beautiful new daughter Carolina. She was remarkably well behaved and only made any complaint at meal times, otherwise she enjoyed the full bodega tour, although I should point out that she didn’t participate in any albariño tasting – milk tasting, yes, but no wine at this very tender age! Being born into the wine trade I have no doubt however, that it will only be a matter of time before wine appreciation becomes a big part of Carolina’s daily life.

In the meantime June continues to be extremely dry, I think that we have only experienced only one light shower since the beginning of the month, and possibly for as much as 5 or 6 weeks.

Posted in People, Weather

Happy Families

May 14th, 2015

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BCM 2013 - 2In the vocabulary of wine and wine making a word that crops up quite frequently is ‘tradition’. Whether it be used to describe a method of vinification handed down through the generations, or perhaps the ownership of a property that passes from father to son (or daughter), it appears quite frequently, and in many cases is promoted as a guarantee of quality. Of course from a wine making point of view, it’s also very important to respect traditions, despite the fact that they are often protected by the rules of Denomination or Appellation. Having said that, innovation is perhaps, equally as important – we can never afford to sit back on our laurels and let the rest of the (wine) world pass us by.

So, what about families? How important is it that you deal with the founders of a business or their descendants? In every country there are famous names, dynasties if you like – Antinori of Italy, Vega Sicilia and Torres of Spain, Château Mouton Rothschild, Famille Perrin and Joseph Drouhin of France and Egon Muller Scharzhof of Germany. The question is, do they really make better wines?

Perhaps family ownership is a bit of a romantic notion, but these days one of the harsh realities is that an increasing number of family estates are slowly and inexorably being swallowed up by the ‘big boys’ of the wine world. Without naming names, there are now quite a few mid to large-sized bodegas here in our own denomination that are owned by Companies from outside our region (many from Rioja), leaving very few that are owned and managed by the founding families. Of course Castro Martin is one such example of this, as Angela and I run this family business in a very ‘hands on’ style – never afraid to roll our sleeves up and get our hands dirty. During the harvest, we are right in the thick of it, and by the end of each campaign we really start to feel our age! Exhausted is another description.

I suppose the difference is, that in a family business (and yes, we do have a wine that we call Family Estate Selection), we treat every wine that we make as one of our children, watching it grow and evolve quite literally from bud to bottle. It gives us immense pleasure to prepare pallets to be delivered to different corners of the world knowing that thousands of different consumers, from many different walks of life, will hopefully be enjoying the ‘fruits’ of our labour.

Family tradition? Yes, it matters!

Posted in Bodega, History, People

Not a selfie

April 21st, 2015

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Barcelona CustomerYet another satisfied customer has kindly sent us their photo, enjoying a bottle of Castro Martin – this time from Barcelona. You will notice that, as in previous images, this young lady is enjoying her bottle with a rather delicious looking fish dish. Of course the fish/albariño combination is no big secret, and really does work rather well, especially with the type of dish that we can see in the picture – poached or possibly lightly pan-fried fish. A delicately flavoured fish with a delicate wine that we know will not overpower, but rather compliment the flavours.

Of course when I received this photo I was tempted to call it a selfie, when quite obviously, it isn’t. The word ‘selfie’ has very quickly become over-used and abused, and is now seemingly used to describe any type of portrait or closeup group photo, regardless of whether one of the subjects is holding the camera or not. OK, so I’m being pedantic here, but let’s face it, if you’re going to invent a new word then at least make an effort to use it correctly!

AsturiasIt seems that we may have started something of a trend amongst our supporters – no sooner had I posted a picture of customers enjoying a glass of Castro Martin, than we received another photo from Asturias (further along the north coast towards Bilbao), of another group, this time enjoying a chilled glass of Casal Caeiro albariño.

Of course now that we are entering the first days of spring, a little sunshine on our faces and generally warmer weather, it could be that our brains switch into ‘summer mode’, and our immediate instinct is to crack open a refreshing glass of chilled white wine. We can put the heavy, ripe, alcoholic reds back in the cupboard until the autumn. OK, I admit that’s a rather simplistic way of looking at things, but we are, after all, albariño producers, so what do you expect?!

Posted in People

Customer1You may already know that I am not a great believer when it comes to the real value of wine competitions. Of course it’s nice to receive a medal now and again, but it’s simply that achieving the result can sometimes be a bit of a lottery. There are just so many variables involved during the judging process.

I have always believed that customer references are far more important. The quality of the people buying your wine and their total satisfaction is really what it’s all about. Having great importers is one thing, but then at the other end of the chain, the final consumer is ultimately the one that determines the success or failure of your product. If wine drinkers don’t like your wine then you might as well give up – your wine simply won’t sell – or rather you might well sell the first bottle, but then never the second.

So when a private customer takes the time to write to you simply to tell you how much they have enjoyed your wine, then this is almost as valuable as winning a gold medal in my book. Here we see a couple of our private customers enjoying a bottle of Castro Martin with a plate of oysters. Truly a marriage made in heaven. After all, what is it they say? The customer is always right!

Posted in Competitions, People

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