Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mail us your comments....

I would like to pretend that I'm really a whiz with computers, when in reality my teenage daughter would probably categorise me as a 'technofool'. To be honest it's just taken me 4 days to re-format my computer here in the bodega, and I've been struggling to retrieve all the data - I think/hope that I may have succeeded.....

In the meantime you may have noticed that our blog, until now, did not allow you the opportunity to comment. Now you may think that this was simply because I was too aloof, and did not care about your opinion, when in reality is was simply a question of HTML.

The template that I use from the Blogger website had a glitch in the hard coding, and it has taken an expert to sort it out. Not me, I would hasten to add, but by my new acquaintance Ryan from the Catavino blogsite. (Also see our links)

So, the good news is that you can now comment on my stories, or possibly rubbish my opinion if you feel so inclined. The only request that I would make is - be gentle with me (and please keep it clean)!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Big Bottle (Botellón)

The reason that I write about the Botellón with such frequency, is of course, because it relates to drinking. Whilst many countries around Europe make attempts to tackle the unsociable behaviour of young people that surrounds heavy drinking, it seems that once again, Spain is proving the exception.

For those of you who have missed my previous posts on the subject, I will explain quickly that Botellón are basically organised street drinking parties that take place in nearly every village, town and city around Spain, every single weekend of the year. Young people stock up in supermarkets, usually with hard spirits and mixers, and drink them from large bottles (hence the name) in the street.

The old town centre of Pontevedra is a popular weekend target, and residents not only have to tolerate large crowds and the related noise problems, but also the fact that their doorsteps might easily be used as public urinals!

Rather than trying to tackle the problem head on, and persuading young people that heavy drinking is both unsociable and unhealthy, the mayor of Pontevedra (a doctor by profession) has now taken a different, slightly incredible tack..... Broadcasts on local radio, appealing to parents telling them that their children should not use the city centre of Pontevedra for public drinking, but that they should now use the official, local government approved drinking site instead. In other words, don't stop your heavy drinking, just do it in a different place! From now on fines will supposedly be imposed for those who persist in drinking in the city centre, but in reality such threats are rarely followed through. We shall see.....

It is no secret that this new regulation is timed to come into effect just a few days after Pontevedra's two week 'fiesta of the Peligrina' comes to an end.

Incidentally, you may have noticed that I made no mention of this year's Albarino festival, held recently in Cambados. Despite being an event organised by our own D.O. we once again opted not to participate - and the reason? Well, if you bear in mind that the majority of 'business' is done between the hours of midnight and 06.00hrs, I will leave you to draw your own conclusion.

Parents - are you proud of your children?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Vineyard update

After a poor start to the year, with a cold, wet spring and slightly uneven flowering, the weather finally picked up in July with three weeks of warm sunshine. Our vines responded accordingly with rapid growth of vegetation, or 'vine vigour' as it is known in some parts of the world. Of course to counteract this, and concentrate the energy of the plant into the production of ripe fruit we have to work hard thinning the canopy, thus ensuring that the developing bunches receive the correct exposure.

In the final week of July the fine weather came to an end, and it would be fair to say that since then the weather has been what can only be described as changeable - some days good, and others not so good. As often happens in Galicia we have to keep a close eye on the vineyards for any evidence of disease, and when needs must, we have no alternative but to administer the appropriate treatment. Never ideal, but this is the reality of our climate.

At this moment we are probably about a month away from the start of the 2008 vintage, and (touch wood), it is looking like we might have a similar sized harvest to 2007, albeit that it is much to early to predict how the quality might compare.

As a footnote to any aspiring photographers amongst our readers, the above shot of our 'El Pazo' vineyard is actually an HDR image. If you click on the photo to reveal it's full size you will notice that the colours are very vivid, giving the picture a slightly surreal, almost exaggerated feel. This is achieved by marrying together five images taken from a fixed point, all with slightly different exposures, the overall result not only intensifying the colour, but also the shadow and highlights. More of this technique will no doubt appear in future postings.....

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Our new secret grape source

The months of August & September see the climax of grape hunting season here in Galicia. Following a very modest 2007 harvest (actually 40% less than 2006), and with 2008 shaping up to be similar in size, the precious Albaiño grape is proving to be quite scarce and difficult to procure.

Every year rumours abound of unscrupulous cellars buying Alvarinho grapes from just across the border in northern Portugal, with lorries running the gauntlet in the dead of night - well, this year we have our own plan.....

In April 2005 we sent some Albariño vines to a new, secret location, and, as witnessed by the photograph above, the fruit is almost there for the picking.

And the exact location of this new supply?.... Cobh, County Cork in the Republic of Ireland!!!

A few years ago I was invited to take part in a small experiment, to see how the Albariño vine would survive (or not) in the deep south of Ireland. An enthusiastic Irishman, who had just returned from a stroll down the Camino de Santiago, decided that he would try planting a few vines in his garden to see what would happen.

Well, clearly the vines have survived, and all we have to do now is to work out how to pick the grapes and get them back to our presses before they oxidise!

A setting not quite as romantic as our own 'El Pazo' vineyard