Friday, July 15, 2011

The last post!....... on Blogger

After more than 5 years as loyal Bloggers we have finally closed up shop and defected to WordPress.

For those of you who don't know, WordPress is actually quite similar to Blogger, except that we are now able to fully integrate our blog with our main website.

The real beauty of this is that not only are we able to regularly update the blog, but we can also easily update our main website too - adding new information, updating and adding new photos etc. Indeed our new website now includes a page of downloads, where you can find pdf files of Vintage Reports, Tech Sheets, Bottle Shots, Labels etc, etc.

The new site will eventually carry a selection local recipes on our food and wine page, but for now it simply includes some great food shots (actually taken using a small pocket digital camera).

We can now be found at - simply click Blog on the main menu.

Many thanks to our loyal followers, we hope that we will enjoy your continued support in our new home!

So, it's goodnight from me, and goodnight from her indoors....

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rain at last!

It's probably quite fitting that one of my last few posts on Blogger (we will hopefully launch our completely new, all singing, all dancing website later this week), should be about the weather.

So far, the month of July has been cool and cloudy. Lots of overcast days, odd spots of sunshine, but also quite a lot of mist and drizzle - just in time for the Galician tourist season that starts to gather momentum at the beginning of the month. The significant point is that, despite the drizzle that we have had, it's hardly been enough to penetrate the canopy in our vineyards, and the soil has remained mostly dry.

Thursday and Friday of this last week, has however, provided us with the first real rain since February/March. Not torrential rain, but steady rain that persisted throughout the two day period. Of course now that the sun has returned, the damp will be trapped at ground level and the humidity will provide an excellent breeding ground for disease. My guess is that we will probably be spraying at some point in the next few days.

Bearing in mind that we are obliged to occasionally treat our vines, prolonged periods of dry weather obviously mean that we spray less, saving time, money and the environment. Every cloud has a silver lining, if you'll pardon the pun.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The correct temperature?

I very rarely eat grapes, probably because we making a living out of growing them. (I guess it's like the people who work in chocolate factories that eventually give up eating chocolate).

The other day, for some unknown reason, I bought a few grapes and popped them in the bottom of my fridge. When I tasted them later I remember thinking to myself that they were a bit acid - I left the remainder of the bunch on my kitchen counter. A little later I picked at a few more, but this time they tasted somewhat sweeter and generally more flavourful. One simple but important difference - they were warmer!

Of course this one of the fundamentals of wine tasting too - how your perception of wine is altered by the temperature at which you drink it.

Obviously I'm not suggesting that you should drink your albariño warm (albeit that this is the best way to expose many potential faults), but conversely, if you drink it too cold, not only will it exaggerate the acidity, but will also help to mask the true character of your wine.

If you find yourself being offered a tooth-shatteringly cold white wine in a restaurant, then cup the bowl of the glass in your two hands, and gently swirl it around until the temperature recovers a little - then, and only then, should you taste and pass your judgement.

Most red wine is served at 'room temperature', which to be honest is a little vague. So if your room is a little too warm, your red wine might also be adversely affected. An over heated bottle will throw all the alcohol to the forefront, perhaps giving your glass a bit of alcoholic 'burn' - not literally, but just a sensation of heat in the back of your throat. This, quite naturally, is more exaggerated in heavy, alcoholic red wines, and is quite easily remedied by chilling the bottle just a little - but not too much!
If you chill a red wine too much, this will simply exaggerate the tannins and could make your wine taste hard, harsh and maybe even a bit metallic.

As you will gather, temperature can make a bit difference to your enjoyment of any wine.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Sneak preview

You may have noticed that our blog has been a little abandoned recently, and as always, there is a perfectly good excuse.....

The screen capture above is a sneak preview of the homepage of our new website, which has been under construction for the last couple of months.

The framework is done, the pages are set up, and now I am just going through the painfully slow part of adding the text and selecting the photographs that we are going to use. Any spare moment that I have had in front of my computer over the last couple of weeks has been occupied by this task - hence the fact that our blog has been a bit overlooked. Sorry about that.

We hope to have the full new site up and running in the next week or so. As they say, watch this space!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tea and toast

There is an old saying that goes "a little of what you fancy does you good", and to prove a point I woke up the other day with a craving for some thick cut marmalade on a slice of hot buttered toast. Fortunately I had all the ingredients in my fridge and cupboards, and savoured every mouthful, accompanied by a mug of piping hot Yorkshire tea. It's sometimes the really simple pleasures that manage to hit the spot. Another such example - a rare fillet steak with a thick, freshly-made bearnaise sauce. Simple, but truly a match made in heaven....

Fortunately we are all have different tastes and enjoy different things, so when I used to get asked "which wine should I drink?" my reply was always the same - drink the wine that you enjoy.

Referring back to my post of a week or two ago about food and wine matching, I was lucky enough to dine in a good restaurant in Vigo yesterday. They had a special French promotion, which is highly unusual in Spain and so I jumped at the chance of eating (and drinking) some old, familiar favourites. An excellent Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 2008 from probably the best co-operative that I know (anywhere in the world) - La Chablisienne, and a drop of Sauternes, Chateau d'Arche, with dessert.

The Chablis was super dry, racy and stylish, with a shot of steely gunflint running through it. People often talk about the influence of the soil on wine, and I swear that in this case, I could actually taste the calcareous kimmerigian clay and chalk that dominates the region. An absolute joy with the shellfish that I was eating. It's really easy to get excited about wine when a humble meal somehow becomes more memorable for all the right reasons.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The next new thing - Château Trump!

Trump Las Vegas (in a lovely part of town)

You may not be aware, that our favourite business entrepreneur Donald Trump recently seized upon the misfortune of a pair of embattled socialites to buy their winery at a knock-down price. The 776 acre Kluge winery in Virginia has been under new ownership since April, and it should come as no surprise that the folically challenged Mr Trump has no intention of becoming winemaker. Indeed, the former owner Patricia Kluge will stay on - "She has a great instinct for wine, which I don't," Mr Trump said. Forgive me for being a bit cynical at this point, but if she had such a great instinct then why was her entire Estate sold to Trump for one tenth of its pre-recession value? 

Those in the know say it won't be too long before the new brand of Château Trump appears on the market, no doubt with a label design smothered in gold (which appears to the trade mark of all his businesses).

P.S. I will confess now that have never tasted a wine made in Virginia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The longest day, but the shortest summer

Please don't get me wrong, I am not announcing that summer is over already, but having just celebrated the longest day of the year (21st June in the Northern Hemisphere), we now look forward to possibly our shortest summer.

Our calendar for summer 2011 will have to be altered dramatically, as we plan for the early harvest. The first thing to disappear will be the planned closure of the Bodega for one week in August. Indeed, the week that we wanted to close may well end up being the week that we start to pick, so I guess that I might have to ask our team to work instead!

But the preparations for harvest actually start much earlier than that....

Not only do we have to order all the materials that we need, but obviously we have to ensure that we have enough space in our tanks to receive the new wine, and this usually involves a programme of bottling to create a bit of spare capacity.

As the wine has to pass through cold stabilisation, filtration etc. before it is bottled this also takes time and forward planning, and so working backwards from the anticipated harvest date, it means that we will probably have a very short summer indeed.

To finish on a more positive note, at least I will save on a bit of sun cream this year!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Never stand still!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Oxygen Transfer Rate (OTR), and how the type of closure can influence the quality of our wine long after it leaves the cellar. Of course the conditions chosen for bottle storage will also determine its evolution, meaning that the loft (attic) of your house is really not an ideal location, but then that's another story.....

We have already established that Nomacorc is the best closure for our wine, and select the most suitable quality for our products no matter what the cost (synthetic is by no means cheaper than natural cork). However, in our constant quest for improvement, and with the help and advice from our friends at Nomacorc, we are now taking our cork expertise to the next level.

The new Nomacorc Select Series is available in three categories - not based on quality, but based on the density of the material. The differing densities have a significant influence on OTR, and therefore have a direct effect on how the bottled wine will evolve.

It would be easy for us to simply read the published statistics and to follow the recommendations of Nomacorc, but for such an important decision we have decided to make an analysis based on our own test bottlings. Under controlled conditions we have bottled three batches of the same wine, using the three different examples of the Select Series. Over the next 6 to 12 months we will pull corks at regular intervals, and then taste and analyse each bottle to determine how the three different corks influence the development of our wines.

If we discover that any one of the three works better than our current quality, then we will make the change. If there is no improvment then we will simply continue as we are, thus applying one of my favourite philosophies - if it ain't broken, don't fix it!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mist, mizzle, drizzle, but no real rain....

And now time for a quick weather update...... (admit it, you've been dying to know!)

A day or two before my friends arrived for a long anticpated visit from New Zealand, quite inevitably, our weather changed. After weeks, nay, months, of warm sunny weather, the temperature suddenly dropped by around 8°C, and the skies filled with cloud.

To be perfectly honest we could have done with a good soaking of rain, but so far we have had nothing more than a week of low cloud, the horrible 'hanging' mizzle that somehow just sticks to your clothes, and a few light showers.

Once our vineyards dry out, then I will be the first to admit that a bit of treatment is going to be needed - I have said it once, and I will say it again - the Galician climate is simply too unpredictable for us not to intervene at some point.

Having said all that, we are still anticipating an early harvest. My guess is still the end of August.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Adagio for Albariño

Ever wished your glass of malbec was more musical or that your sauvignon sings? No, of course not. But we all grew up knowing that our mothers' glassware could make sweet music. The glasses pictured above have been made to satisfy that kid inside. Each glass is marked with musical notations to denote the exact amount of albariño required to create the perfect pitch (we assure you that albariño is by far the best wine for this purpose).

Unfortunately these glasses don't come cheap, so start saving up so you can play that sonata. And at least if you don't succeed in creating musical magic, you can always console yourself with a decent glass of Castro Martin!