Thursday, June 25, 2009

Albariño and a pot of tea

It would appear that the Yorkshire Post newspaper quite likes our wine:

"Rather restrained and elegant is the white Castro Martin (Val do Salnes) Albariño 2007 from Riás Baixas which has the soft, subtle weight of this delicate, peach-tinged grape variety. It is unoaked, but has weight across the palate and it makes a glorious food-friendly wine".

My own connection with Yorkshire is actually much closer than simply being English - not only does my mother still live there, but I am probably the world's best customer of Yorkshire tea! Every year I ship about 2,000 tea bags from Harrogate (home of the world famous Betty's tea shop) to see me through the year.

Sorry, have to stop, time to put the kettle on......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fire & Brimstone

Sulpur, sulphur or sulfur, was commonly called brimstone in English translations of the Bible, possibly because of it's volcanic origin and rather pungent smell. Burning suphur, and more especially the smell, was associated with the old 'fire and brimstone' religious sermons that threatened eternal damnation. (It is the burning of sulphur that actually produces the suffocating and dangerous sulphur dioxide gas, as in it's natural form sulphur is virtually odourless).

Sulphur dioxide has many different uses, not least of all in winemaking - we use it as a preservative agent, but only in absolutely miniscule amounts that are measured in parts per million. In the wine bottle it serves as an antibiotic and antioxidant, protecting wine from spoilage by bacteria and oxidation. It also helps to keep volatile acidity within acceptable levels, and it is for this reason that you will see the expression "contains sulfites" on every wine label.

The precise amount of sulphur added at bottling is absolutely critical, as this not only has a huge impact on the taste, but also on the actual 'shelf life' of the bottle itself. Too little and your wine might oxidise quite quickly, too much and it can render your glass completely flat and unpleasant - effectively 'killing off' the wine for good. Natually the amount we add is determined by the experience of our own wine, and how quickly we like it to evolve. As we have never really designed our wine simply for 'instant gratification', it is perhaps possible that we might add a touch more sulphur than some of our neighbours.

It was my own experience at home yesterday evening that provoked me to explain this story, as we opened a bottle of Castro Martin 2007 with our meal. After pulling the cork, whilst there was no obvious presence of sulphur on the nose, the wine did appear to be a little 'dumb', and was not really showing it's true potential. At this point some consumers might say that the wine should be allowed to 'breathe', but in the case of a (quality) white wine it is really more a question of letting the wine recover for a moment, allowing the last remnants suphur to dissipate.

So the moral of today's sermon is, if you whip out the cork and find our Albariño appears just a little flat, swirl your glass a little and give it a few moments before you pass final judgement.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A bit of trivia

I am fairly confident that there is not one single person who has been losing sleep wondering what was so odd about the Liverpool football shirt that I was wearing last week, in truth it's barely worth mentioning - but just in case.....

The fact is that my post was made last Monday, 8th June and the shirt that I was wearing was not officially launched until Wednesday 10th June. Now, I would love to tell you that I am a personal friend of Fernando Torres, who buys our wine and who sent me a pre-release edition of his shirt, but then this is of course, only in my dreams. The dull, boring reality of the story is that for once the Spanish postal system excelled and they delivered the parcel to me much quicker than the sender had anticipated.

I am usually quite scathing about the Spanish 'Correos', often joking that they still use donkeys to move mail around the countryside. On this occassion I have to say 'the boys done well', so credit where credit's due.

See, I told you it wasn't worth mentioning!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our new ceiling unveiled

OK, so it is not the most exciting picture that I will ever post, but hopefully it is enough to satisfy our local health/hygiene/safety inspectors (not just the photo, but the ceiling itself!)

There is no doubt that the slats of brushed grey aluminium look very smart, but I honestly have to say that I could think of many better ways to spend the money, especially in a recession. Indeed, thinking about it, it simply would have been much better just to keep our cash in the bank, or maybe even under the matress.

I wrote a few days ago about the flowering, mentioning that the weather had been perfect, well perhaps I spoke too soon as it has been raining ever since. Of course this does not present a problem at the moment and will only serve to build up the water table should, by any fluke, we have a hot, dry summer.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Double success!

Seeing double?

My second post of the day is a little more serious, and is certainly worth a mention.

You may or may not know that I have mixed views about the validity of wine competitions, as for various reasons they can be a bit of a lottery - dodgy samples, dodgy judging etc, etc. Consequently, we do not actively participate in the competition circuit, but sometimes it is our importer who will enter wines on our behalf, often without our knowledge. In these circumstances we can at least guarantee that the sample used is quite literally taken 'off the shelf', and there can be no question of it being doctored, or taken from a special tank.

Unbeknown to us, our one and only retail customer in the UK, Marks & Spencer, recently submitted the wine that we ship to them for two competitions - the International Wine Challenge and the Decanter World Wine Awards.

We were lucky enough to be recognised in both, a silver medal from Decanter and a bronze in the IWC. Not bad going, and at least showing some consistency for a wine taken directly from the shop shelf!

I was inclined to make a special photo for the occassion wearing yet another Liverpool shirt, and the eagle eyed (Liverpool supporters) amongst you might notice that there is something very odd about this picture - and not just the fact that there are two of me...... answers on a postcard please.

Gone Phishing

Are you phishing for a pot of gold?

I wrote only a couple of days ago about spam and phishing, and no sooner had I made the post, than I received this beauty....



I am Suriya Jungrungreangkit! , former Thailand transport minister during Thaksin Shinawatra regime which was outsted by a military coup on Sept 19 2006,and Martial law was imposed by the Council for Democratic Reform, now called the Council for National Security. After the Sept 19 coup, i would have called you on phone , but because the new government is taping the past government officials phone numbers, so it is no longer safe for me to call you, that is why i think it is safe to send you this mail. we are placed under surveillance. However my main point of contacting you is to seek your sincere suggestion and guideline to invest in your country. And please because of my previous position in the government, i do not need to tell you of the absolute confidentiality which we both must have to observe, if we are to go into investment, or rather if you are to help me in investing in your country.

I desired to contact you now that I am very sure that all eyes are not on us as it was when the problem first began though we are still going to court but the environment is good now to handle the transaction very safely. From the news publications attached here in respect of the government probes into much of the projects my ministry executed will make you to understand my position with the government now. I thank you very much for taking time to go through my mail, and hope to read from your reply soon, .Thanks for your anticipated co-operation and myregards to your family. Good luck,and feel free to contact me on my email *****, until arrangements are made.

yours sincerely, Minister, Suriya Jungrungreangkit.

I am sooooo tempted to send a reply, after all she is an old friend. So old in fact, that I had forgotten completely that I ever knew her, and she had forgotten my name too!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Now, I am never quite sure what people expect to see when they visit our vineyards at flowering time. If they anticipate seeing a display of colour to rival the famous Chelsea flower show, then they should simply stay at home! Indeed, I remember my own reaction many many years ago, thinking to myself 'but where are all the flowers?' (saying nothing to the French vigneron who was showing me for fear of seeming ignorant).

I think that I have probably incorporated photos of the actual flowering on this blog in previous years, but quite honestly there's not really that much to see, and it makes a rather boring header for the top of my page.

The important thing is that we have the right weather, and I'm pleased to report that the last week has been sensational - it would appear that the flowering for 2009 has passed off successfully. In the period leading up to this the weather had been cool and damp and we feared that we could have a poor flowering that would inevitably lead to uneven bunches. The French call this millerandage, but I am not sure if the Spanish actually have a word for it. When I looked it up in my LexiVin the translation was 'granos muy pequeños', which quite literally means very small berries.... hardly an apt description.

I have not posted for the last week or so, as I have been away in the UK. Now, I am not saying that the English are perfect drivers, but I was very soon reminded that I was 'home' again when after only 400 metres of my journey to work, the first would-be Fernando Alonso pulled out of a side road in front of me without even looking. Having said that, I am often shocked that many of the fast and aggressive drivers here in Spain are actually the young women! Sorry girls......