Time to flower

May 19th, 2021 | Vineyards

So far, the month of May has continued with pretty much the same weather as April, cool, damp and unsettled. The most notable feature of our Spring this year being the temperature. By this time of year we would normally expect to have seen at least a few hot, sunny days, and, whilst we have enjoyed some sun, the temperatures have remained stubbornly low (mainly due to wind direction). The dominant airflow has originated mainly from the north, with some slight variations from the northeast and northwest, but only rarely from any southerly direction.

Of course, this damp, cooler whether does not make for ideal flowering conditions, although there are one or two small areas (in our more protected sites) where flowering is now already underway. The forecast for the coming days is still quite variable, and so we will just have to keep our fingers crossed that this important transition period, from flower to grape, will not be too impaired.

Catching up

May 10th, 2021 | Bodega

Over the last few months our efforts have been focused almost exclusively on the vineyards, simply because the task of pruning needed to be complete before our vines spring back into life. Thankfully this job is now behind us, or at least until next year!

In the meantime our poor bodega has been largely abandoned, not only because of the pruning, but mostly owing to the pandemic. To be honest there hasn’t been a lot of activity (in the form of orders) over the last few months, and so now, we can finally turn our attention back to our ‘home’ – we have a lot to catch up on.

At the end of last week we hired a platform to carry out a few jobs that needed a bit of elevation – cleaning gutters, pruning a couple of big trees, changing some exterior floodlights, and so on. Fairly mundane stuff, but still jobs that needed doing.

Today we will do a bit of pressure washing on a few pathways, followed by some painting around our car parking areas…. all riveting stuff!

German Gold!

May 5th, 2021 | Competitions

Regular readers might already know that I am not a great fan/supporter of wine competitions. This is simply down to the fact that there are so many variables (beyond our control), that can determine how our wine may or may not be judged, therefore meaning that the whole exercise can be a bit of a lottery.

Of course, should we decide to participate then we have to rely on the organisers, in the hope that they can level the playing field, and make the tasting as fair and as equitable as possible. For example, simply lining samples up in the correct order can have a huge influence on the outcome.

This year (probably owing to the lack of activity in the Bodega) I decided to send off a few samples. Just a couple of bottles of our Castro Martin Family Estate and our A2O brand. The first result, coming back from the Frankfurt International Trophy Competition – TWO GOLDS, one for each wine. Not a bad start!

By the way, did I mention how much I love wine competitions?!

Smoke gets in your eyes.

April 27th, 2021 | Vineyards

April is certainly living up to it’s reputation, sun one minute, showers the next. Our location on the Atlantic coast inevitably makes for changes to the weather that can be both sudden and unpredictable. Weather forecasts are modified sometimes on an hourly basis, but can still be inaccurate, or at the very best, misleading. This time of year is especially bad, sheltering from heavy rain one minute, and bathing in warm sunshine the next!

Between the showers we are now almost completing the job of burning the vine cuttings from pruning – it’s a shame really because these cuttings do actually make excellent material for firing up the barbecue. Perhaps we could start up a side business just for selling firewood?!

The new shoots on the vines are developing well, we already have the tiny bunches starting to emerge and it shouldn’t be too many more weeks before we move into the flowering period.

 

Spring forward!

April 20th, 2021 | Covid 19

After all the trials and tribulations of the last year or so (including the indignity of having cotton buds rammed up our nostrils), life is finally showing a few signs of the ‘new’ normality. Of course, the rollout of the vaccine programme here is Spain is hardly breaking any records, as Europe in general continues to suffer problems with the procurement of supply. In terms of population already vaccinated, Spain is still working on the 70-80 year-old age group, well behind the UK and USA for example.

With Spain lagging behind in vaccination, the knock-on effect is that until now, our restaurant sector has only seen limited, tentative re-openings. The better news is that the prospects for some of our export markets looks just a little more promising. In anticipation (and hope), of some increased business we have dusted down our bottling line and have already converted a few tanks of wine into bottle. All that is left now is to wait for the new orders to come piling in (he said, with fingers tightly crossed!).

Cellar door sales

March 23rd, 2021 | Odds & Sods

Since the start of the Covid crisis our online sales have increased, but not so much our ‘cellar door’ sales, as numerous lockdowns have simply prevented would be shoppers from visiting us.

Today, however, we had a most unusual customer – a guy in a 40ft trailer! At first we thought it was a delivery (an export order had already been collected earlier in the day), but no, the driver simply wanted to buy wine. With a 40ft trailer at his disposal we wondered how many pallets he would want…. but alas, is was just a single case.

Still, better than nothing I suppose!

We have life!

March 18th, 2021 | Customers

Just over a week ago I posted a photo of the vines in our small vineyard here at the wine cellar – there was almost no sign of life at all. A few days of warmer weather has suddenly made all the difference. After a long, cool and largely wet winter we have finally enjoyed about a week of almost spring-like weather. Pleasant sunshine and temperatures touching the 20°C (68°F) mark, which has come as great relief to our guys working outside!

I am pleased to say that there are signs of life in the market too. With vaccination underway, not only here in Spain, but also in our export markets, there is, at last, a little more optimism in the air. A few pallets have been ordered and sent out (including for a new export customer in Belgium), perhaps in anticipation of the Easter break. All I can say is, long may this trend continue!

Food points?

March 11th, 2021 | Food & Wine

A few days ago I was thinking about the day when restaurants finally re-open and we can all sit down to enjoy a nice meal (that is not home-cooked). But how do we actually go about selecting the restaurant that we chose (assuming that it’s not a place that we already frequent)?

Whilst a wine cellar will have their range of individual wines rated on a points system, a restaurant will usually have just one classification for the overall dining experience, based on Michelin stars or perhaps a Trip Advisor rating. Although, to be honest I take most Trip Advisor ratings with a pinch of salt! (Deliberate food pun).

I then asked myself, what if each individual restaurant dish could be rated in the same way that wines are? Of course, I am aware that such a system would be completely impractical to set up and monitor, but it would certainly give the consumer a more detailed guideline of what to select, or perhaps just what to expect.

In this reflective mood I also wondered why restaurants (especially those without a wine waiter), don’t simply print two or three different wine suggestions next to each dish on their menu? Maybe some already do, but I don’t recall seeing any. It’s really just about giving your customer/consumer a bit more guidance in making their selections.

Full circle

March 4th, 2021 | Tasting

Since I started in the wine trade, more years ago than I care to remember, it would appear that at least some aspects of our taste in wine have now gone more or less full circle. By this I mean in the styles of wine that are being produced.

Many years ago wines that were made by old-fashioned traditional methods, might well have been classified as ‘rustic’ by today’s standards. Whilst they certainly had a lot of character, they were perhaps, not always squeaky clean.

It was really in the 1980’s when consumer tastes first started to change, almost certainly influenced by the more modern wine making techniques used in New World’ wines. Countries such as Australia, not bound by centuries of tradition and rules of appellation, used the latest, technical methods of wine making. Whilst the resulting wines may have lacked a little in nuance and character, they certainly had power and concentration in abundance. Big, full-bodied, up front wines, brimming with ripe fruits (and often high alcohol). The significant difference of these wines was that, by comparison to some Old World wines, they were nearly always, bright, polished and squeaky clean. Quite literally ‘text book’ wine making some might say.

Far from being subtle, they swept the board in wine competitions as the first mouthful of their unctuous, juicy fruit would often simply overpower and dominate their more elegant, sophisticated European competitors. On the downside, they were very much ‘one sip’ wines – drinking two or three glasses could be more than enough to exhaust the palate, or simply overshadow some dishes from a restaurant menu.

However, after this era of technical wine making it could be that we have now started to retrace our steps a little. Modern taste is now leaning much more toward more natural, organic wines once again. Traditional techniques have resurfaced, and modern cultivation methods are being withdrawn. Perhaps now, a small deposit or a few crystals at the bottom of your glass is not quite the issue as it was just a couple of years ago and is simply a sign that we have indeed gone full circle.

Stormy weather

February 20th, 2021 | Vineyards

February continues to be extremely wet, the result being that parts of our vineyards are now very soggy underfoot (to say the least). Certainly, we will not have to worry about the water table being replenished this winter! In the month to date we have  been limited to just one or two dry days, once again making pruning conditions most uncomfortable for our hard working team.

This weekend is proving to be particularly stormy, even by Galician standards. High winds, driving rain and, of course, our lockdown means that it is really a moment to batten down the hatches and simply remain indoors.

As a brief aside, I was just a bit puzzled to see a couple of street sweepers working at the height of the storm. Armed with just a couple of brushes they were doing their level best to sweep up the fallen leaves, and despite their valiant efforts, I have to admit that they were simply fighting a losing battle!

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