Friday, October 20, 2006

Parker on Wine: Elegant Albariños

Albariño is one of Spain’s great gifts to the wine world. These crisp, floral wines rarely age well, but they’re reasonably priced and go nicely with food.
by Robert Parker
Albariño comes from a cool, wet viticultural area known as Rías Baixas, tucked away in the Galicia region of far northwestern Spain. Its lush landscape is marked by rías, fjord-like inlets that come inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Albariño is the only Spanish wine known by the variety of the grape. If these wines were tagged as others from Spain, they’d be called Rías Baixas.
Albariño wine is a light- to medium-bodied, fragrant, floral white that shows remarkable flexibility with food. Its sharp acidity allows it to pair especially well with seafood, which also happens to be the mainstay of the local cuisine. The wine rarely ages well, so readers should be buying the 2005’s, which are just being released. Here are some of the better examples:
Bodega Castro Martin - 88 points - $20
Aromatically demure, Castro Martin’s albariño explodes on the palate with melon balls, spices, salty minerals, and flowers. This light- to medium-bodied white is satin-textured, expressive, and sports a lengthy finish. $20
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Footnote: I just thought that I would add a comment to put this article into perspective:
Only six albariño were actually mentioned as "better examples", and although 88 points might not appear to be the highest, please remember that most of Parker's 90+ scores are awarded to red wines. The highest mark acheived in this selection was 92 points, with only two wines above 90 points - our wine was 4th......
I would also like to challenge the great guru's assertion that Albariño does not age well - see my blogs of 31st July and 26th August.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A blatant bit of pre-Christmas selling!

Our smart new gift boxes

Yes, it's that time of year again - My wife Angela is busy stuffing envelopes with her 'best ever' Christmas wine offer, whilst my mum probably already has the brussels sprouts on the stove in anticipation of our Christmas lunch (a very English joke - apologies to any foreign readers).

Seriously though, we have already started to prepare some Christmas orders for shipping - indeed one pallet of Albariño is destined for Australia, and might well be enjoyed on the beach with Christmas lunch - strange but true!

So, here comes the sell...... At the top of this blog is a photo our fine new three bottle gift packs, and in keeping with our image of quality products, they would make a very presentable Christmas gift. (Albariño is highly recommended with Christmas, or even Thanksgiving turkey, not to mention your seafood appetiser). These gift boxes come with a semi-matt wipe-clean coating, and you can find further details on the packaging page of our main website, or if you prefer just drop us an e-mail.

What is it they say? Hurry now while stocks last!!!

Friday, October 06, 2006

It's official - we have wine!

Fermenting must (photo taken at the start of fermentation)

I questioned myself the other day, at what point do I stop writing about grape 'must' and start writing about wine? Well, I now have the official answer.....

Apparently it is all to do with density - as the sugar is converted into alcohol the density drops, and then, at the point that the density is less than that of water, it becomes wine rather than 'must', or so I am told.

As at today's date the fermentation is slowly reaching it's conclusion, as the sugar is almost completely converted into alcohol (and CO2). Typically, when the sugar concentration is around 2g per litre or less then the wine is deemed to be completely dry, and the fermentation finished. For most palates a 'residual' sugar of less than 5g per litre is actually quite difficult to detect, but more than 5g can give the impression of a slightly richer wine (the average consumer can easily be seduced by this hint of sweetness). However, one of the downsides of this can be a potentially unstable wine as the remaining sugar can trigger a secondary fermentation in the bottle (done deliberately in the making of Champagne). Of course, in our region, an off-dry wine would simply not be typical of Albariño.

We are still not able to relax during the fermentation, this is a very critical time for us, as we constantly monitor and adjust the temperature according to the level of activity in the tank and the changes in density. If we simply allowed the fermentation to run out of control then we would most likely end up with a fat, flabby wine with a very short shelf life - the exact antithesis of what we are looking for, and nothing to do with Albariño.

Monday, October 02, 2006

2006 - a vintage of two halves

The paddy fields of Galicia

I think I wrote in one of my previous posts that the 2006 harvest was the earliest ever for our Bodega, and also that one of the factors that helped us to decide the start date was impending bad weather. With hindsight I can truly say........ what a good decision!

Unlike last year, the latter half of September has been very, very wet and if we had picked on the same dates as in 2005, then we would have had real problems. The sad thing is that there are some Bodegas still trying to pick even at today's date, a nightmare scenario for any grower or winemaker. No doubt there will be some variation in quality this year - in effect a vintage of two halves - those who picked before the rain, and those who picked after.

In our own Bodega our wine continues to ferment slowly under strict temperature control (I have to find out the exact point in it's vinification that you stop referring to the grape juice as 'must', and start calling it wine - no doubt Angela will know) and the only problem that we have encountered recently is to our power supply. It would seem that when our own bodega and our nearest neighbouring bodega are functioning at full capacity then the local transformer has difficulty keeping up, and we suffer occasional power cuts - so much for 21st Century technology (perhaps the Spanish should allow the Germans to buy their power generating Company after all!)

Footnote: The word "paddy" is derived from the Malay word 'padi', meaning rice.