Gold again!

January 19th, 2022 | Competitions

As you will know I have very mixed views when it comes to wine competitions – certainly some are more credible than others. Some years ago, when I was a wine buyer, I remember receiving a mailshot, boldly entitled “Winner – the best wine in the World”. Well, that’s quite a claim, despite the fact that every winemaker on earth probably believes (or certainly should believe) that their wine is always the best in the world! However, it transpires (but only after reading the small print), that this wine was voted the best wine in a small, obscure tasting in Turkey. That’s almost like saying “the best wine in the world” – voted by my mum and her next door neighbour! Well, that’s probably a bit cruel and disrespectful….

Anyway! I had completely forgotten that we had entered one or two wines into a tasting in the autumn of last year. The Distinciones Gallaecia, which is based around a Galician wine guide – Guía Luis Paadín de Vinos, Destilados y Bodegas de Galicia 2022. It is judged locally, only involves Galician wines, and is held in very high esteem in our region. Based on the reputation of this competition we were naturally delighted to learn that our Castro Martin Family Estate wine had not only emerged with a Gold medal, but actually with a Gold+ medal, offered to only the very best wines – perhaps the best in the world!!!

Ageing – the choice of container

January 11th, 2022 | Bodega

Over the centuries many different types of container have been used to ferment and store wines, employing a variety of different materials. In the beginning it was simply a question of the range of materials available, such as the clay amphoras used by Romans and Phoenicians. In recent times, as wine making has become more ‘technical’, the type of container used is now more a matter of personal choice – the choice of the winemaker.

Obviously, the type of vessel used will often have a big impact on the style, and possibly flavour, of the finished wine, albeit that some winemakers still opt to use the most inert type of receptacle possible, in order that the wine is not marked in any way, thereby showcasing the flavours and character of their chosen grape variety.

Wine tanks and containers can be made from stainless steel, concrete, clay, stone, glass fibre, wood (and possibly a few others that have slipped my mind). Each different material can not only change the flavour and texture of a wine, but will also control the evolution (temperature and oxygenation) in very different ways. Concrete, for example, will retain temperature much longer than stainless steel, whilst on the other hand, stainless steel is much more hermetic than, say for example, wood. In addition to this, the way in which the chosen vessel is sealed can also change everything.

A trend which has re-emerged (seemingly since the advent of natural and organic wine), is the amphora. Here in Galicia some cellars are now experimenting with amphorae hewn from granite. It seems that wine making techniques have almost gone full circle.

Before and after

December 30th, 2021 | Holiday ramblings

As most businesses are closed at this time of year, or at least very quiet, I thought that I would do a quick catch up on a post that I made about a year ago.

About a kilometer from the bodega, a very strange structure appeared. The metal frame of a building, but somewhat strangely, built around a 40ft shipping container at it’s core. Of course, it was this part of the construction that really attracted my attention, and my mind was working overtime trying to figure out what the building could be. With an integrated shipping container I assumed that it might be some sort of storage facility (especially being located adjacent to a local motorway). I was wrong.

Progress of construction was slow, probably owing to the pandemic, but by the end of summer 2021 a bar/restaurant emerged, with a wooden exterior giving it the appearance of a large cabin.

To be very honest I haven’t tried it yet, but I will, if only to find out how the container has been integrated into its design.

Happy Holidays!!

December 23rd, 2021 | Festivo

We’re officially No.3!!

December 22nd, 2021 | Bodega

No, this does not mean that we came third in a wine competition, but it does mean that we now have an official number on our door!

Yesterday afternoon our doorbell rang. I was confronted by a man in his high-vis yellow jacket carrying a small plaque and glue gun (and yes, it was fully loaded). “Where do you want it, mate?”, or words to that effect. “Where do I want what?”, I replied. He showed me the small plaque – it was the official street number of our bodega, which apparently had to be fixed at precisely 1.50 metres above the ground.

I was just a little taken aback, as we had had no say in the design or lettering of this plaque, nor had we been advised that it was even coming. It was the definition of a ‘fait accompli’!!

Anyway, I argued a bit with this Council ‘jobsworth’ (an official who upholds petty rules even at the expense of common sense), and eventually persuaded him to attach it at slightly below the sanctioned height. With a slight grimace he left, glue gun in hand, to continue his mission with our unsuspecting neighbours.

So now, we are officially Rúa Puxafeita 3

Close to the holidays

December 16th, 2021 | Bodega

As we move closer to the Holiday Season there is still plenty to do, both inside and outside the bodega. Our overseas shipping orders were mostly sent some time ago, and many of our Christmas gift packing orders have also been completed. Having said all that, we have still be obliged to make a couple of late bottlings, which is quite unusual for December. Of course, as we sell wine to the other side of the world, we have to remember that it is now summer in these places, and albariño season is in full swing (or so we hope). New orders waiting to be collected include Australia and Brazil.

On the subject of summer, the sun is streaming in through my office window as I write this, albeit the temperatures mean that it is not quite beach weather! Indeed, only yesterday, we had our first ground frost of the winter, but the clear blue skies still make this ideal pruning weather (already well under way). December itself started wet, cold and miserable, but fortunately this last week has seen a considerable improvement. The other good news is that Angela and I are both fully vaccinated and ready for the winter!

Well into Autumn

December 1st, 2021 | Bodega

The 2021 harvest is now well and truly behind us, and, as always at this time of year, our wine is sitting quietly on its lees. In our vineyards the pruning is under way, and the first of the Christmas gift pack orders are being prepared. Christmas orders for our export markets left the cellar some weeks ago. Indeed, with the global shipping problems that exist (and not to mention the post-Brexit delays on goods entering the UK), our overseas importers started to ship quite a bit earlier than they normally would.

Having said all that, preparing orders this year has been much more of a challenge than normal as there have been delays on nearly every product that we have ordered. Not only have prices increased on cartons, bottles, capsules and corks, but currently our label supplier can’t even get the paper that they require for printing! It’s fair to say that I have never taken the supply chain for granted (we normally hold buffer stocks), but at the moment trying to plan for wine bottling can be something of a logistical nightmare.

Meanwhile, on the weather front November was largely dry, until the final few days of the month. Skies were bright and clear, albeit that temperatures were distinctly chilly and autumnal. The first day of December is wet, and so our vineyard team have moved inside to catch up on a bit of labelling (and yes, we do have a bit of label stock left!)

Happy Thanksgiving 2021

November 25th, 2021 | Fiestas

We wish all of our friends and customers in the United States a very Happy Thanksgiving – we will raise a glass of Castro Martin albariño to you (also great with turkey!).

Whilst we do not celebrate Thanksgiving here in Europe, we have at least, inherited one of your other customs…. Black Friday. For us no turkey, no sweet potatoes, no pumpkin pie, just a bit of serious retail therapy!

Wine cellar visitor…

November 22nd, 2021 | Bodega

Imagine arriving in the office on a Monday morning, and you immediately notice a strange scratching noise. Working in a bodega you might easily believe that this could be a mouse (even though we do have controls to prevent this). Wrong…. and you would never guess what it actually turned out to be…… An owl, or rather a baby owl!

The first question that arises is, how on earth could an owl get into the bodega? The windows and doors are all well secured, as you might imagine, and so perhaps the only entry point that we could think of was an old, unused chimney in our salon – we will never know.

Luckily, one of our team, Fran, is an amateur bird enthusiast and knew exactly what to do (that is his hand inside the protective glove!) Once carefully removed and released outside we did have a little cleaning to do, as amongst other things, the bird had knocked a few pots off our office shelves. The owl didn’t seem to be at all bothered by this damage, indeed, you could say that he didn’t give a hoot!!


October 27th, 2021 | Bodega

In my previous 2021 posts I have mentioned the quality of the wine itself, the low yield per kilo, and the crazy grape prices. As if these complications alone are not enough, they has been further compounded by the knock-on effect of the Covid crisis. Energy, transport and dry goods prices are all suffering badly as a result.

As the recovery from the pandemic got under way, then so the demand for energy increased rapidly. Gas reserves were already depleted by a cold winter, the generation of power from wind turbines was down (simply owing to a lack of wind), immediately followed a baking summer in many countries placing a huge demand on electricity grids for systems such as air conditioning. Almost the perfect storm.

Increased production costs caused by new energy tariffs, together with unprecedented demand on raw materials, such as paper (for packaging), had also led to sharp increases in tariffs for dry goods. Bottle production for example, depends heavily on gas supply, for their ovens – it’s a very frightening trend.

International supply chains are also under huge pressure. The infrastructure simply cannot meet demand caused by the hangover from Covid and the sudden upsurge in business. Ports are overloaded, ships are queuing, containers are out of position and there is a shortage of drivers and road transport to help clear the backlogs. The price of a container can now be as much as 300/400% more than last year!

The long and short of it all is that the cost of living for all of us will increase, and very unfortunately for us (and our region), our business and wines will simply get carried along by this tsunami.

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