Let there be light!

August 9th, 2018 | Bodega

There is still a lot of work to do in the bodega before harvest time, and so we really have to work out our priorities. Number one on the list (as always) is a pre-harvest deep clean – all the equipment, tanks, pipes, pumps, presses, floors etc… everything!

Having said that we still cannot overlook our long-term commitment to the environment and reducing our carbon footprint wherever possible. Consumption of energy in the bodega spikes at harvest time, when we have both presses and refrigeration equipment running flat out for long periods of the day (refrigeration 24/7 for probably 4 or 5 weeks). In an attempt to compensate, we have embarked on a programme of renewing all our internal lighting. By the time the harvest starts, I believe that 99% of the lighting in the entire bodega will be replaced by low consumption LED.

Large parts of the bodega are already complete, and apart from the energy saving, there is another minor bonus that we have noticed immediately. The light is instant – there is no delay, and the flickering that we have come to associate with the old florescent tubes is history. Suffice to say that the old system will not be missed!

LXVI Albariño Festival

August 3rd, 2018 | Denomination

The first weekend of August signals the start of the annual Albariño Festival in Cambados. There are pretty much two completely different ways to approach the weekend’s celebrations. For the majority it is simply a case of visiting the numerous stands set up in the town centre, each representing a specific wine cellar, where you can buy a chilled glass of albariño to drink at your leisure. There is a lunch session, which is quite quiet and civilised, and an evening session with can be really, really busy and very boisterous – this ‘evening’ session will usually extend long into the night. Personally, this is not the option that I take.

The second way to enjoy the festival is the ‘tunnel of wine’ – approximately 160 wines from more than 60 bodegas, set up as a huge tasting, and much more suited to wine professionals and also visitors that want to see a real cross section of the wines from our denomination. This is probably my favourite tasting of the year. Each wine is accompanied by it’s own technical sheet, so it is easy to focus, and taste in a quiet and calm environment. With 160 samples on offer, I taste everything, but over a two day period – even a hardened professional really couldn’t do it all in one hit!

Harvest preparations

July 30th, 2018 | Bodega

It’s looking very much like this year’s harvest will probably fall around the third or forth week of September, although there is still enough time for this to change. Whenever it eventually arrives, then it goes without saying, the bodega has to be prepared.

Believe it or not there is quite a bit of maths involved in the preparation – working out how many kilos we might have, converting this into liquid (approximate yield), and then working out how many tanks we will need to accommodate this. The reality is that we have already been working towards this for some time, ensuring that we are systematically emptying the tanks nearest to the presses first, as we move through racking and filtering etc. (Very obviously, the less we have to move the wine the better!).

As we move into the final stages, then it’s all about bottling, simply emptying the last few tanks before we finally need them. This week we will bottle two tanks, and then possibly one more before September.

Coming soon!

July 26th, 2018 | Bodega

I think I mentioned a week or two ago that the launch or our new website and blog was imminent, and at that time it was. However, the last few stages of the process have been slightly more complicated than we thought, and getting pages and links to work exactly as we want is not that easy. Of course it is compounded slightly (well, actually a lot), by adding an online shop and the fact that everything has to be duplicated in two languages, making it all just that bit more complex. Recent legislation regarding cookies, privacy etc have also meant that these pages have to be reviewed by lawyers before they are finally added. It all takes time.

The good news is however, that we should go live at the beginning of next week (30th or 31st July). I should warn however, that as the site is being updated and final tests are run, we could be out of action for an hour or two. The changeover is however, planned for night time, so hopefully it will not inconvenience too many of our friends and customers.

My weekly ramblings (sorry, blog), will continue unabated, and now we are only left to watch your orders come flooding in!

2017 typicity?

July 23rd, 2018 | Tasting

We have only just started to sell our 2017 vintage, and once again it is officially classified as ‘Very Good’ – but is is typical?

Every few weeks we taste every tank in the cellar, and a few days ago we re-tasted the 2017’s. These are my observations:

The first thing to say is that the 2017’s are very good wines, full stop. The only question I ask myself is “are they typical of the albariños we normally see?” For example, I would never usually consider an albariño to be full-bodied, and whilst that is still true, this year’s wines are certainly quite a mouthful. Of course, we had already recognised at harvest that the potential alcohol was a shade higher, an average between 12.5% and 13% (normally between 12.0 and 12.5%), and that the grape must was concentrated and viscous. These factors alone would tend to suggest a very rich wine with more glycerol and therefore a greater mouthfeel that will linger on the palate.

Our 2017 wine is intense, some people might describe it as being ‘fruit driven’, which is true – notes of peach, apricot and other ripe fruits dominate. However, the most important factor is that these concentrated fruit flavours are still nicely balanced with the level of acidity that we would normally associate with albariño (the slight difference being that the acidity is slightly masked and not quite as prominent). Having said all this, the wines are still well-structured, and owing to the depth and concentration have a long, complex finish. I have no doubt that they will be well received by our customers whatever my personal ideas might be!

Refuge update

July 19th, 2018 | Local News

The other day Angela’s younger sister Duliana, who works in a dog refuge in Cambados, kindly sent us a photo of their latest summer window display. As you might be able to make out, it features our Casal Caiero label wine that we still supply to them (with all profits, of course, going to this charity). I should add that for the purposes of the window display, our bottles do not contain wine, but rather water, and they are clearly marked on the back of the bottle as such (so that they don’t get sold by accident – which actually happened once!).

Of course, we are not advocating for one second that dogs should be drinking albariño – after all, we already recognise that dogs very much prefer a good Beaune![:es]The other day Angela’s younger sister Duliana, who works in the dog refuge in Cambados, kindly sent us a photo of their latest summer window display. As you might be able to make out, it features our Casal Caiero label wine that we still supply to them (with all profits, of course, going to this charity). I should add that for the purposes of the window display, our bottles do not contain wine, but rather water, and they are clearly marked on the back of the bottle as such (so that they don’t get sold by accident – which actually happened once!).

Of course, we are not advocating for one second that dogs should be drinking albariño – after all, we already recognise that dogs very much prefer a good Beaune!

How do you like your albariño?

July 16th, 2018 | Rias Baixas

The other day my UK journalist friend Tim Atkin wrote an article about typicity. In the context of wine, this simply means the typical characteristics that you would expect to find in a particular type of wine – a combination of factors typical of the denomination, of the grape variety, all ultimately influenced by the local climate and/or vintage.

In Rias Baixas the definition of a typical albariño will certainly vary according to the sub-zone. Although there is only 60km seperating the north from the south of the denomination, climatic and soil variations can already produce some widely differing styles. These days, unfortunately, flavour profiles can also be manipulated by the use of cultured yeasts whereby a wine’s typicity can be can be rendered almost unrecognisable. At Castro Martin however, we always opt for a very ‘neutral’ yeast, doing our very best to preserve and protect the delicate aromas of the albariño grape. Our extended lees ageing period helps not only to enhance this, but also adds further to the complexity of the finished wine.

In our view an albariño should always have a delicate fruit, perhaps slightly floral nose, sometimes offering a hint of salinity. On the palate flavours are often piercing and intense – a lively sweet and sour mixture. Notes of freshly cut fruit dominate – citrus, green apple, pear  and can include more exotic fruits such as melon, apricot and white peach. On the finish is can have a ‘nervous’, granitic edge and a streak of a salt-lick zestiness. It sounds like a real mouthful – but this is exactly what the typical albariño should be.

Competition time!

July 9th, 2018 | Competitions

Anyone who knows me will know that (at best), I am just a bit sceptical about some wine competitions. Of course, there are some very reputable events, judged by professionals who know what they’re doing, but then equally, there are now a lot of  second rate and fairly worthless competitions, that spring up out of nowhere with monotonous regularity. Nearly every week there is some new ‘International’ wine competition contacting us, asking us to send samples (not to mention sending money for them to taste our wine). The average price of submitting a single bottle these days can be well in excess of 100 euros.

The consequence is that every year or so, I have a moan about it.

One of the problems of these new competitions is that they all claim to be ‘International’, even when they are just starting up. Often they are held in some obscure corner of the country, and sometimes not even mentioning the address/location at all, merely adding mobile telephone numbers and e-mails as a point of contact. Call me an old cynic, but I often wonder if at least some of these could be elaborate scams. Think about it….. a great way of financing a huge party with free wine![:es]Anyone who knows me will know that (at best), I am just a bit sceptical about some wine competitions. Of course, there are some very reputable events, judged by professionals who know what they’re doing, but then equally, there are now a lot of  second rate and fairly worthless competitions, that spring up out of nowhere with monotonous regularity. Nearly every week there is some new ‘International’ wine competition contacting us, asking us to send samples (not to mention sending money for them to taste our wine). The average price of submitting a single bottle these days can be well in excess of 100 euros.

The consequence is that every year or so, I have a moan about it.

One of the problems of these new competitions is that they all claim to be ‘International’, even when they are just starting up. Often they are held in some obscure corner of the country, and sometimes not even mentioning the address/location at all, merely adding mobile telephone numbers and e-mails as a point of contact. Call me an old cynic, but I often wonder if at least some of these could be elaborate scams. Think about it….. a great way of financing a huge party with free wine!

4th July – Let’s celebrate!

July 4th, 2018 | Fiestas

Since 1776, when they signed the US Declaration of Independence, the Americans have been celebrating beating the British, and eventually expelling them from US soil.

Since 3rd July 2018 the English have been celebrating beating Columbia on penalties in the World Cup! (OK, maybe not quite the same historic significance, but a reason to be happy nonetheless).

The English are especially ecstatic as they have a wretched record in penalty shootouts – losing shootouts in the World Cup in 1990,  1998 and 2006, and in the European Championship Finals in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

So whatever you are celebrating today, football or Independence, Happy 4th July![:es]Since 1776, when they signed the US Declaration of Independence, the Americans have been celebrating beating the British, and eventually expelling them from US soil.

Since 3rd July 2018 the English have been celebrating beating Columbia on penalties in the World Cup! (OK, maybe not quite the same historic significance, but a reason to be happy nonetheless).

The English are especially ecstatic as they have a wretched record in penalty shootouts – losing shootouts in the World Cup in 1990,  1998 and 2006, and in the European Championship Finals in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

So whatever you are celebrating today, football or Independence, Happy 4th July!

Tank Story II

July 2nd, 2018 | Bodega

Last week I mentioned briefly that putting the tanks back together, welding the steel, is a much more difficult job than cutting them in two (not to mention very highly skilled).

The process of maneuvering the two halves into position and the spot welding is slow, precise and painstaking. As you can perhaps make out from today’s video every small weld is made centimeter by centimeter, re-aligning the metal between each fusion – it really is very exacting work. Once the circle is complete the result is a line of hundreds of individual spot welds that form the new joint. The welds are then hammered flat, with two men working simultaneously, perfectly co-ordinated, one inside the tank and the other outside – it’s really fascinating to watch.

After the hammering comes the final clean up. This is a two part process. Firstly comes the grinding, when the small humps and bumps of the join are removed, leaving a comparatively smooth, flat surface. Finally comes the polishing, when the tank is left with nothing more than a ‘brushed metal’ effect is visible (masking tape is used the give this brushed effect perfectly straight edges). Et voila! Job done!

Of course, now that the new jacket is in place it simply needs to be connected and tested. The odd fact is that this work is not carried out by the same people that made the tank modifications. Connecting to the cold water system will be carried out by either a plumber or refrigeration engineer in the coming days.

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