Archive for the ‘Press’ Category

Following my latest post about the cost of producing a bottle of wine, I have just read a very interesting article written by an old friend of mine – UK wine journalist Tim Atkin MW. Although he is not actually commenting directly on the production costs of wine he is, in effect, talking about the price pressures often put on producers to reduce their selling price (and certainly their profit margin). If this downward pressure is allowed to continue then, inevitably, the only thing that can and will suffer, is the quality of the liquid in the bottle.

In the final line of his article he says “More than ever, we need a strong independent sector to preserve diversity, quality and individuality.” In this case he is referring to independence in the retail sector, but allow me to say that the very same phrase could easily be applied to the wine producers themselves.

He is a link to Tim’s full article.

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

OK, perhaps I am biased, but I have to admit that I am rather fond of our 2016 Family Estate wine. That’s not to say that I don’t normally like it, it’s simply that I think that the 2016 is singularly good. From their tasting notes below, I would say that our Australian friends appear to think the same. This is perhaps one of the most detailed tasting notes I have ever read, and to be honest, I haven’t even heard of half of the fruits that they mention!

Castro Martin Family Estate ‘Sobre Lias’ 2016

A fine sandy colour with a touch of green, this is a young varietal Albariño with a significant future.

A golden fruit nose carries granitic sand’s talcy-minerality. The fruit is sliced apple and nashi flesh with a hint of spicy breakfast radish and waft of paddymelon skin. To taste, the gorgeously rounded prickly pear fruit has an enlivened sweet-sour tug, thanks to a tangle of subtle green elements – tarragon, watermelon skin, mint, lime. But the mouthfeel really is the thing! At first, trademark Salnes Valley acidity is prominent, along with Atlantic saline and granitic edginess – these are textural and flavoursome, far from simply sharp, and house a wine of great fleshy depth. Below and within the acid frame, a surprisingly powerful bell of lively, spiced rich fruit pushes out, revealing the hidden, raw power of Albariño, from a very fine tank of supremely textural fruit. Astonishing already, with 2-3 years of positive development ahead of it, this delicious wine sets a new benchmark for Albariño.

A recent article from the Wine Enthusiast would also appear to support the’typicity’ of this wine:

Val do Salnés: The Birthplace of the Grape

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

Wine and Spirit 3No sooner had I written that medals and reviews can sometimes work against you, than we start to pick up new accolades. Within the space of days, a silver medal and a 92 point rating – in two entirely different markets.

In the UK we received a silver medal for our Bodega Castro Martin 2014 at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. (I should quickly mention that no Albariño achieved gold medal status, meaning that we were at the very top of our category – we will have to try harder next time to achieve gold!).

Meanwhile, over in the United States, the Wine and Spirits Magazine (August Issue) just awarded our Castro Martin Family Estate 2014 an impressive 92 points, putting us at the top of their tasting and  listing us as both “Year’s Best Galicia” and “Best Buy”. Their tasting note was as follows:

92, Castro Martin, 2014 ‘Sobre Lias’ Albarino (Best Buy): From 50-year-old vines in Salnes, 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 albarino. Far from the simple and creamy whites that populate Rias 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 or three years.

As I always say, don’t just take their word for it, buy a bottle and judge for yourself!

Copper topWe all like to receive compliments, a bit of ‘positive stroking’ never did anybody any harm. And the same applies to our wines, we love to see positive reviews and read positive comments written about us, but then, in this age of social media, it is also possible that this can sometimes produce a negative effect too. Don’t get me wrong, the very positive thing about the internet is that everyone is given the opportunity to voice their opinion, but then the downside is also that everyone is given the opportunity to voice their opinion!

Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of receiving great reviews (points or stars), is that you are immediately put on a pedestal just inviting the would-be critics to shoot you down. For example, if someone is given very high expectations of your food or wine, then this could, in turn, lead to a bit of a disappointment, if what they actually experience is not quite as good as they had anticipated. When you find yourself at the very top of your game, then perhaps the only way is down, and so, in this way, it is almost better for the consumer to have no expectations at all in order that they can taste or eat with a completely open mind – the power of (pre)suggestion is always a powerful thing.

To be honest it’s not quite so bad for wines, which are rarely ‘rated’ by the public (there is no Trip Advisor for wines as yet), but for restaurants and hotels this can really be a total nightmare. I recently read about a very humble Barbecue restaurant, the Copper Top, located in a very small town on highway 395 in California. With some 250 great reviews on Yelp, and hardly anything negative, my guess is that some algorithm suddenly decided that this small barbecue (built on the back of an 8ft trailer), was now the No.1 dining experience out of 600,000 in the United States. You can probably guess what happened next…. the place was simply overrun, not only by normal consumers, but also by professional food critics and the press. With queues down the street, running out of their now famous barbecue food in record time, it wasn’t long before the crowd started to turn ugly. Not only were customers complaining for every small detail, but then other local business waded in with false reviews, simply in order to drag them down. The critics were merciless! So a rating that looked and felt good on paper at least, had now backfired horrendously for the poor unwitting proprietors.

My own opinion of this system has never really waivered – if you want to read the reviews of Castro Martin then fine, but why not simply buy a bottle, pull the cork and make your own judgement? In the end it’s your own opinion that really counts!

Posted in Press, Social Media

Tio Pepe en RamaAn old mate of mine, Joe Wadsack, recently visited Jerez, and was consequently waxing lyrical about some of the great wines that he’d tasted there – and quite right too. Sherry used to be considered the drink of the older generation – the sort of thing that your grandma might enjoy before her Christmas lunch. These days it’s become quite a bit more hip…..

Don’t get me wrong, sherry is still something of an acquired taste, and would not necessarily form a part of anyone’s introduction to wine drinking. It’s probably something that features later in a wine drinker’s career, when the palate has mellowed and become perhaps, well, a little more discerning.

From Fino to Palo Cortado, there’s a very wide range of styles and flavours to chose from, and the vocabulary used to describe them can be just as wide – salty, nutty, yeasty, bready, smoky, the list goes on.

Following the recommendation of one of Joe’s best friends, Victoria Moore (Daily Telegraph), I decided to buy a few bottles of a limited edition sherry from Gonzalez Byass. Their Tio Pepe Fino ‘en rama’ 2016 has just been released, and is completely delicious. Drawn straight from the barrel without fining or filtration, like many dry sherries it has to be drunk whilst it’s still young and fresh. It’s salty, it’s savoury, it’s yeasty, it’s nutty, it’s, well, superb and really needs to be tasted.

Of course, living in Spain makes access to the limited stock (of just 60 casks a year), just that bit easier, and dare I say, a whole lot cheaper. So if you can find it, then it’s certainly worth grabbing a bottle, or maybe two.

Posted in Food & Wine, Press

Ribera Sacra

I read a Spanish wine publication recently (which shall remain nameless), where one of the articles named our neighbouring wine region of Ribera Sacra as ‘the Burgundy of Spain’. As someone who knows Burgundy really quite well (having travelled there extensively for about 14 years during my wine career), this startling headline certainly caught my eye. What on earth could they possibly mean, I thought to myself? Is the geography similar? Do they grow Pinot Noir (or Chardonnay for that matter)? Are the climates similar? What could the connection possibly be?

Certainly it’s true that the history of Ribera Sacra dates back to the spread of the Roman Empire across Europe (the resulting vine cultivating practices subsequently perpetuated by the church), but then the same can be said of many a wine region throughout Europe. As far as I can see however, in reading this article, this is where any similarity begins and ends.

The Ribera Sacra vineyards cling to the steep sided valley of the River Sil, where the most common grape varieties cultivated are Mencia and the Alicante Bouschet – a typography much more akin to the Douro Valley than the rolling hills of Burgundy. The resulting wines are also very different – I really adore some of the great wines of Burgundy, both red and white, whereas wines of the Ribera Sacra don’t really excite me at all. Indeed, during my time here I have only really found one or two that I would consider worth drinking a second time.

The final thought of the author was to say that he was convinced that the wines produced in Ribera Sacra could easily share “the delicacy and finesse of the Grand Crus of Burgundy”! The only conclusion I could draw upon reading this was either that the writer had never tasted a Burgundy Grand Cru, or that he must be on drugs!


Posted in Odds & Sods, Press

COV.5.3.10.layoutFortune Magazine is one of the World’s most important and influential magazines. Part of the Time Inc group, it is probably best known for it’s Fortune 500 listings that ranks America’s top companies (these companies account for $12.5 trillion in business revenues and employ 26.8 million people around the world).

They have also made a list of “The 20 best wines for holiday parties“, and yes, you’ve guessed it, they have included our Bodega Castro Martin in their top 20! Rubbing shoulders with some very illustrious names – Jadot, Fevre, Mondavi, Jansz & Antinori, they kindly wrote:

Bodegas Castro Martin 2013 Sobre Lías Albariño Rías Baixas ($20) Serve this palate-priming Spanish white as guests arrive: It’s all about minerality and brisk acidity, but has just enough stone and tropical fruit flavors to round it out.

Great as a holiday aperitif, or perhaps with Turkey!