Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A bridge too far (or perhaps, too near?)

So here is the last in the trilogy of new motorway anecdotes, for now at least - my next post with be an update on progress in the vineyards, I promise.

When they originally erected this new bridge it was literally pointing straight at the roof of this house, albeit that it stopped about 15-20 metres short. Of course I just assumed that the house was awaiting demolition, and that perhaps the residents were quite naturally, putting up a fight. Not true.....

To my complete astonishment they continued to extend the road from the end of the bridge, and although it is a little difficult to make out from this photo, it turns at a sharp 90° angle. The new road now passes within probably 2 or 3 metres of the roof of the house, and any drunk motorist who does not manage to negotiate the sharp turn will certainly end up in bed with it's occupants - and I don't necessarily mean a hospital bed!

Wouldn't it just have been a little easier to relocate the bridge?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cross at your peril

In my previous post about the new motorway link to our bodega I mentioned that there were one or two odd features in its design and layout. Perhaps it is just my failing memory but I don't actually recall seeing a pedestrian crossing at the end of a motorway on/off ramp before. Crossing the road in Spain is hazardous enough without stepping out into speeding traffic, even if (on paper), you supposedly have the right of way.

In addition, the crossings themselves do not actually connect to anything, as there is no pavement or walkway anywhere near this busy road intersection. Whilst in other places a pedestrian would actually have to hurdle the Armco to reach the crossings, as believe it or not, the planners have failed to leave any openings. So much for thoughtful design......

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Full Metal Roundabout

More Armco than the Monaco Grand Prix!

So, after two years, plus an odd couple of months, the new Salnes motorway has finally opened - built specifically to link Bodegas Castro Martin to the main motorway system at an approximate cost of €40,276,438.45. Now, I say approximate because Spanish government offices have a habit of being very precise with their statistics, and this 'estimated' figure was painted on all the billboards at the very start of the project. Now I can't help but imagine some poor accountant weeping into his coffee as he tots up the final bill and realises that his estimate was 10 cents over budget (or perhaps I should say 9.9887 cents)!

The new motorway (formerly a Via Rapida) is known as the AG-41, and links both the Cambados area and the well-known seaside resort of Sanxenxo to the main AP-9 motorway. (Watch out for an update on your SatNav). If you are ever visting our Bodega, leave the AG-41 at exit 7, and this will deliver you to within a couple of kilometres of our front door. I should also quickly mention that this new road forms a part of my daily route to work, and will come as a welcome relief after the years of disruption.

Finally, there are actually a couple of odd features incorporated in the design of this road, or more specifically it's junctions, so over the next couple of weeks I will nip out with my camera, and see if I can snap them for future inclusion in our blog.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

El Corte Inglés - Journadas Gastronómícas

It seems to me like I'm always shouting about what we do with our wines around the world, paying little attention to our impact on the local market. Well, as if further references were needed, here's quite a good one - El Corte Ingles.

For those of you who don't know, the Corte Ingles is a chain of upmarket department stores located throughout Spain - every city in Spain has at least one, Madrid boasts several, as does Barcelona. Many stores include high quality 'supermarkets' and nearly all have cafeterias and restaurants.

It is a proud boast of ours that we have been featured in the restaurants and supermarkets of the Corte Ingles here in Galicia for around 20 years now - many Albariños on their list come and go, but we are happy to say that our Casal Caeiro albariño has been a permanent feature.

Every summer the local restaurants of the Corte Ingles celebrate Galician Gastronomy with special menus comprising, as you might imagine, mostly fish and seafood dishes (albeit there are a few meat dishes thrown in for the carnivors among us).

Naturally the featured wines are Galician too, and we proudly list our Casal Caeiro brand amongst the handful of Albariños on offer. So, if you find yourself in Galicia over the next few weeks why not take a break from your shopping, put your feet up, and enjoy a refreshing glass of albariño!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My little wine oasis

There is no doubt that Spain produces some great wines, and is probably one of the most exciting countries in the world when it comes to the development and discovery of new wines and wine regions.
However, local restaurants here in Galicia do not always have an extensive choice on their wine lists, and usually restrict their selection to Galician wines, plus a selection of 'safe bet' wines from the better known denominations of Spain. Certainly this limited range will suffice for the palate of many a local wine consumer, but for the more adventurous among us, it is, well, just a little bit predictable and boring!

Apart from the odd bottle of Champagne here and there, it is very rare to find any overseas wine at all, from either the new world or even adjacent countries in the old world. (I do of course have a few bottles of my own secreted away in my private cellar, but this does not help me very much when I'm sitting in a local restaurant).

Pepe Vieira to the rescue! My favourite local restaurant not only boasts the great cooking of chef Xose Cannas, but in his brother Xoan, they also have one of the best sommeliers, not only in Galicia, but possibly the whole of Spain. On top of that Xoan speaks perfect English which makes it considerably easier for us to discuss our favourite wine selections.

Their wine list includes an extensive choice from every part of Spain, as you would expect, but then continue turning the pages and you will find a hand-picked collection of wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire, the Rhone and Champagne. In addition there is also a small selection of fine New World wines.

Like I said - my own personal food and wine oasis......

Friday, July 04, 2008


Like it or not we now live in the age of carbon footprints, global warming and all sorts of different (and sometimes contradictory) ecological issues. One topic that I have covered very recently is that of re-cycling, and more especially, packaging.....

Short of selling our Albariño in tetrabricks, I am not quite sure how we could reduce the amount of packaging that we use - the bottle, some form of closure, and a label are fundamental, and therefore impossible to replace. I guess that the only valid argument could be made against the capsule, which in truth is probably more aesthetic than anything else. Our cardboard cartons (which are made from re-cycled materials anyway) are designed to protect our bottles in transit, and using an alternative, more flimsy material, would no doubt result in increased breakages.

And the real point of my story? - Living in a remote part of Spain as I do, I am a very big Internet shopper, and probably qualify as a UPS 'frequent user'. Parcels arrive from around the world in all shapes and sizes, but without doubt the most over-packaged of them all...... computer software. Have you ever stopped to wonder, why does the solitary disc of your programme upgrade need to rattle around in such a big box? Software manufacturers should simply use slimline jewel cases or CD sleeves, and include instruction manuals in a CD sized booklet. Your programme or upgrade would then fit neatly into a Jiffy bag. My guess is that it comes down to perception - value for money - if you're paying a couple of hundred pounds, dollars or euros for a computer programme, then you deserve a bigger, glossy box!

Witness two packages that I received very recently - see if you can work out which is the single music CD, and which is the single software disc?