Monday, June 30, 2008

The Reign of Spain!

My Hero - Fernando Torres

After 44 years of famine Spain's national football team, that has so often promised so much, finally delivered..... Champions of Euro 2008 (second only to the World Cup here in Europe).

During the game streets were completely deserted, and it appeared that even the dogs had stopped barking as the entire nation sat glued to their TV screens. After 90 minutes of drama, anxiety, expectation (and some breathtaking football on the part of the Spanish), the celebration finally exploded on to the streets - and I mean exploded. Every small town and village witnessed dancing, fireworks and a cacophony of car horns as the country went completely wild. If there was ever an excuse for fiesta - then this was the fiesta to end all fiestas!

Despite being English, and the England team failing to qualify for the finals of this competition, I still feel at least slightly justified in sharing the Spanish excitement. I am a fervent supporter of Liverpool FC, who not only have a Spanish manager, but also supplied 4 of the 22 players to the winning Spanish squad. In addition, dare I mention that the scorer of the winning goal in last nights final was Fernando Torres - of Liverpool FC!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Living the MoVida

It is always nice to know that your wine is sold, and appreciated around the world, and as a wine producer being listed in top restaurants is actually one of the best accolades that you can receive. At this point I could drop a few names, but I will resist the temptation on this occasion....

As I think I have mentioned before our wine is quite widely sold 'down under', in Australia, and thankfully Castro Martin has found it's way onto the list of many a top restaurant. Included amongst this group is the highly acclaimed MoVida tapas bar in Melbourne. Owned and run by Frank Camorra who was born in Barcelona and raised in Cordoba before his family emigrated to Australia when he was a small boy.

Frank's passion for Spanish food (and wine) never left him, and after working in many top Australian restaurants, he travelled back to Spain to top up his knowledge of classic Spanish cuisine, before opening his MoVida tapas bar in 2002.

He has never looked back, not only receiving numerous awards for his cooking, but also somehow finding the time to co-write a book entitled 'MoVida - Spanish culinary adventures'. And that is exactly what it is - much more than just another cookery book, it is also an insight into the origins of the food that he so lovingly prepares.

Inspired by the success of the first book, Frank and his co-author Richard Cornish, are on the road again, collecting material for MoVida2.

Frank chats with Angela under the pergolas

We were of course delighted that they found the time to swing by our Bodega, and on a perfect day we decided to entertain them to a few tapas of our own, under the pergolas of our El Pazo vineyard. Of course, in such illustrious company, we obviously had to find a top tapas chef, so we were joined by Herminda (who you may remember heads up our harvest team) to enjoy some great tapas, great wine and great company, all al fresco.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The power of the press....

A fresh meat counter in Madrid this week

I've had a few digs at the press over recent years, but almost exclusively to do with their assessment of wines. Having said that I believe that they are also guilty of using more than just a bit of journalistic licence when it comes to reporting our daily news.

Perhaps it is just my imagination, but these days there seems to be a tendency not only to exaggerate, but also to sensationalise and distort the truth. There is of course no doubt that an attention grabbing headline will sell more newspapers, even if it is not quite truthful.

In view of recent events, more specifically the fuel strike here in Spain, I wanted to highlight some pretty unbelievable reporting of a similar event back in the UK.

The drivers of Shell fuel tankers are planning a four day strike - Shell supplies only 10% of the UK market, and the public have been told that their petrol stations will probably have enough stock to cover this break in supply - but only IF they do not panic buy.

I scratch my head therefore, when I see headlines like these in the week leading up to the strike:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Haulage strike update

Two days into the strike and the casualty list is starting to grow, and I am not refering to business casualties - very regretably I am talking about human life. One picket in Spain, and another in Portugal have been killed as they tried to prevent trucks from running the gauntlet. In another incident a driver has been badly burned as he slept in his cab, when his vehicle was set alight. Of course this is not only a tragic waste, but also begs the question, what if anything, can actually be done to supress the spiralling price of oil? Perhaps the drivers should be picketing OPEC instead.....

It would appear that the effect on consumers varies enormously according to the area of Spain in which you live. From Madrid for example, we hear reports of shops running out of fresh food, and garages running out of fuel, whilst here in Galicia, it would appear that there has been little or no effect - so far. On Monday morning our local garage here in Barrantes had a queue for fuel, but on subsequent days I have seen at least two tankers actually delivering fuel to other forecourts in the area. Heaven only knows where these trucks came from, or how they got there, but the most important thing is that they were able to replenish stocks.

As far as I am aware there have been no reports of local food shortages, and the only real problem that we have experienced is that we are not able to deliver wine!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tinto de Barrantes - an acquired taste!

Every year our local village of Barrantes holds a 'Fiesta do Vino Tinto' in celebration of the red wines of the Rias Baixas region. Now, to be honest, the Rias Baixas region does not actually produce too many red wines, and within the D.O. there are actually very few Bodegas that make it. There are however a couple of grape varieties, such as Mencia and CaiƱo, that can produce a half-decent glass, but in reality the red grape struggles in our climate, to reach full maturity.

The truth of the matter is that the village of Barrantes produces it's own red wine, made from hybrid grapes, which is not actually legal within our D.O. regulations. It is very possible therefore, that the real motivation behind this fiesta is simply to quoff this local libation in copious amounts under the guise of an 'official' red wine celebration.

'Tinto de Barrantes' as it is known, is bright purple (similar to an unfermented Beaujolais) and is served in white ceramic cups that tend to exaggerate it's colour. It has very low alcohol (below 10%) and is quite fruity, but, in my opinion, it suffers from an unacceptably high level of volatile acidity. It tastes rather like an unfinished wine that has not yet completed it's alcoholic fermentation (as it's vivid colour would suggest), and it is definitely an acquired taste.

In the end I guess that it what makes the world of wine so interesting - we all enjoy different things - I regret to say, that for me at least, Tinto de Barrantes is not one of them.......

Friday, June 06, 2008

Load your wagons!

There is a National transport strike in Spain starting this weekend, and we are not sure exactly how long it will last, or more importantly, what the knock-on effects will be. Hopefully, most of our customers will have received notification that this was about to happen, albeit that we were not able to give too much warning.

Whilst we did not have lorries exactly queueing at the door to get wine out, we have still had a very busy week, and our best effort was turning around a 400 case export order in less than 24 hours - from the time that the order was received, including packing and paperwork etc, to the time that is was collected by the transporter. Not bad going....

So, all collections have now been made, and we are closing our doors for the weekend. On Monday we will know better how life has been affected, and as always, we will do our best to keep you informed.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

No action!

I'm afraid to admit that today's post is more like history rather than news - it should have been written several days ago. We have been almost completely without power for the last two and a half days - no phones, no fax, no computers, no e-mail- in other words, at peace with the world. I therefore apologise to those of you who may have been trying to contact us. I simply should have warned you beforehand, rather than after the event.

So this is how it came about:

I think I may have mentioned last September (during our harvest), that we were having fun and games with our electrical supply - we simply did not have sufficient power to meet the demand of all our equipment. It was almost a case of turning off one appliance in order to be able to supply another! The problem, we were told, was in the Bodega itself - our poor old wiring system was just not up to the job, and it was clear that something needed to be done to avoid a repeat this year.

Although the job was planned some time ago, we have, believe it or not, been waiting for a window in the weather. The electricians needed to run a new cable into the Bodega from an outside junction box, and I am reliably informed that electricity and rain water is not a good combination.....

This week the sun has come out, which was not only good for our electrics, but much more importantly might have helped to save the flowering, which to date has been struggling in the poor conditions. Using our 'agricultural calculator' we have worked out that this will almost certainly result in a late harvest (around the end of September).