Thursday, March 31, 2011

Oh, the irony!

No sooner do I open my big mouth, questioning the accuracy (and therefore validity) of tastings for wine awards, magazines, wine guides etc., and the very next day we go and appear in one - with a very good review! In my defence however, I should point out that this latest incident only serves to strengthen the point of my argument - that the same wine can be judged very differently according to the individual palate of a particular journalist or tasting panel.... A poor review in a Spanish wine guide is somehow translated into a very good review in the world-renowned Decanter wine magazine.

(Of course we acknowledge that there is such a thing as bottle variation, and whilst we know that this does happen, we work very hard at Castro Martin to produce wines of consistent (high) quality throughout. These days we rarely send samples to guides or competitions, but conversely we very often send bottles to importers or potential customers who want to judge the quality of our wine or perhaps simply try a new vintage. In doing so we always make sure that the sample we send is truly representative of the stock that this customer will eventually receive, thereby helping to establish both trust and credibility for our business).

Finally, here is the Decanter review of one of our fab 2009 wines:

"Textbook offering from this Atlantic-facing region in Galicia. With the vim and vigour of youth, it delivers tangy, citrus sherbet fruit, herbal edging and a tasty, refreshing finish with a squeeze of lime juice in its tail."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New site on the way

I am very aware that our blog has been a bit quiet recently, and of course, this is partly due to the amount of travelling that we have been doing during the last two months.

There is however, another important reason...... Behind the scenes (and with the help of our new friends in Christchurch, New Zealand), we are just starting work on a new website/blog. Not only will the new site be modernised and updated, but it will also mean that our blog and main website will eventually be integrated under one single web address.

But don't panic! All the old blog post will still be accessible for those (if any) who have difficulty sleeping and feel the need to check back on my previous, hysterical historical blog entries.

To use yet another well-worn phrase - Watch this space!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The tasting lottery

It's always been a bit of a conundrum to me, and I have written about it many times before, but there are times when I really do question the value of submitting wines to wine guides and competitions etc. At best these types of tastings are inconsistent, and at worst they are simply a complete lottery.

The reason that I chose to say this now is because over the last month or two we have travelled the world showing our wines to some very knowledgeable professionals in several different cities and countries. The general consensus has been that the 2009 wines that we are selling now are outstanding, and possibly some of the best we have ever made. (Not just our opinion, but an opinion shared by the huge majority of people that tasted, including some top journalists).

Imagine our surprise therefore to discover that the very same wines were rated with some of the lowest scores of the region in a new Spanish wine guide (which shall remain nameless).

Those of you who know me will know that I am often brutally honest, and sometimes get myself into trouble with my outspoken views, but to say that this story does not make any sense is probably something of an understatement. The problem now is that this review has been printed in black and white and will be circulating in book shops over the coming year.

I must say however, that I am not convinced that these wine guides actually have too much influence when it comes to selling our wines, and the real measure of our success or otherwise, is determined much more by our importers and their customers who actually buy, consume and enjoy our wines.

Just to finish, I thought I was honest, but here's a tasting note written by a proprietor about his own wine that might be just a bit close to the bone. I have deleted the name of the wine, but the rest is verbatim.....

******  is not exactly an elegant wine, but it’s not over-extracted either. At first sight, it looks like a “rough soul” with hairs all over his chest, which goes straight to the point, but without dismissing subtleties and a gentleman’s good manners while it bombards your senses with an array of well polished exaggerations – it’s like an iron hand in a glove of soft velvet. A wine for those moments when we are tired of everything and won’t have “more of the same”

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Home made

Our recently refurbished out building used to be accessed by a pair of old wooden doors, which, quite frankly, were falling apart.

We asked one of guys, Fran, if he could come up with something better, and the picture above shows what he made. Please bear in mind that this door was not bought from some Do-It-Yourself warehouse, but was made completely by hand, from scratch!

To be honest, if it was me, I wouldn't know where to begin, but some of our guys have a natural talent when it comes to this type of thing and I think that this effort proves exactly what I mean.

Obviously Fran is quite skilled with a welding torch, so perhaps if I buy him a few pieces of scrap metal and give him a picture of an Aston Martin he just might be able to come up with something......

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Home from the sea

Just in case you were wondering what this photo is - it's the funnel of a rather large ferry taken at a 'jaunty' angle. The Pont Aven plies its trade between Santander on Spain's northern coast and the UK (either Plymouth or Portsmouth) crossing the rather notorious Bay of Biscay.

On my outward journey about 10 days ago the sea state was officially described as 'moderate' (whatever that means), but suffice to say that it was enough to keep me awake most of the night on my 24 hour crossing. Heaven only knows what it would be like on a rough sea (some friends of mine did experience a rough sea last year, and I think their expression was 'never again', or words to that effect)

Spending 24 hours on a gently swaying ship does however, create a rather interesting sensation by playing tricks on your brain. For about a day after you eventually reach terra firma you still have the sensation that the ground is moving - or at least I did. I believe it must be something to do with your inner ear that incorporates the balance senors of your body..... mine is obviously all at sea!

So, I'm finally back in the office after about a month of travelling, so it's time to get my head down, catch up, and press ahead with some of my new spring projects...... watch this space.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

It's official - bad timekeeping is acceptable!

It's clear that all the recent instability in the Middle East has caused chaos, not only on the streets of the countries concerned, but also in the crude oil market. Wild specualtion has predicted that prices could reach as much as US$200 a barrel (remembering that until recently we complained bitterly when the US$100 threshold was breached).

In an attempt to reduce consumption the Spanish Government has today implemented a new national speed limit of 110kph (68mph), reduced from 120kph. This is just one of several measures that will be introduced in the next year or two deisgned to reduce energy consumption around the country. Other schemes include the use of low energy bulbs in the home, air conditioning in public buildings will be subject to a minimum acceptable temperature in summer, and street lighting will be reduced by up to 50%, to name but a few.

Whilst this action is highly commendable - a public statement by Spain's premier Jose Luis Zapatero, is not. In a very losely worded speech he defended the new speed limit by saying, in not so many words, "who cares if you're ten minutes late for an appointment if you can save fuel"? The Spanish mentality dictates that you wouldn't necessarily consider leaving home ten minutes earlier in order to compensate!

No doubt if I'm a little late for my long distance boat trip on Thursday the ferry will be obliged to wait for me (using the logic of Sr Zapatero)....