Archive for August, 2012

Today being the last day of the fiesta we had a petanca competition, a tripletta, so our friends from the other towns turned up to take part.  Now a tripletta is simply what it says teams of three play against each other.  Today we were the hosts, as you can see we played under the ‘Mora’ trees that shade the clubs courts and provides shade from the sun. the wives who were not playing sat at the top table watching – except mine who wandered around with the camera.

We arrived around 8.30am to find everyone there eating their bocadilos, drinking either wine or water or both depending on whether they were driving.  Everyone was in good spirits with good banter doing the rounds, however we soon settled down to the serious art of playing.  My team played well and we won all our games so were in the play offs.  I spent the rest of the time watching the other games and seeing who we might be up against in the international playoff.

We have been invited to play at Tivissa at the end of September by ‘The Boys from Tivissa’  these are a team of young people who are very good players and who we – pure novices – beat a few years ago.  We have visited their club since then and played in competitions the last time my wife won a trophy.

The petanca club of Tivissa are the people who made us welcome when we went to watch a match then invited us to stay on for the BBQ and yes our club was doing the cooking – try stopping em,  at which I tasted their local drink throughly enjoying myself.  So when on the way home with my wife driving, the Mossos (state police) stopped us on the roundabout at 1am and asked her if she had been drinking, it was me who leant forward grinned and said ‘no but I have he he’ the officer just looked and you could see ‘ English’ on his face then with a grin told my wife to ‘take him home’  oh such petanca memories.

Anyway there were 6 teams in the play off,  here we are waiting to start with Asco getting ready to bowl.  In yellow are Tivissa, I being me am in red whilst my team mates are in the white and green of Mora, Maquinensa in red and blue and  Fayon being all green.   A great deal of banter took place as the teams began to try to score points, with  teams finishing as follows:-

These are the first and second teams    Mora  and Tivissa  both teams won large dried hams.

The third and fourth teams are Asco and our team, it must have seemed strange to our President having to present herself with the prize of wine, I did offer to accept it on her behalf but strangely she declined the offer I wonder why….

These are teams five and six  Tivissa and Fayon, with their wine.  the other teams all received a bottle and chorizo sausage so everyone won something.  We returned home to relax and chill out before preparing for next weekend.  Cheers!!!!


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My name is ‘Orace Toad and if I look ‘cheesed off ‘ then know I have a good reason, ‘She’ has been at it again, let me explain. I live in the forest in the few damp patches there – which have been getting fewer and fewer over the past years – happy contented and unwashed.  Then one day up turn these two humans with machines and build a small home. Well I mean what else could I do but hop off to newer damp places.  I was told by my mum that humans were not kind to toads and frogs, if they had a pool of water and found our ancestors in it they threw them out.  So imagine my surprise when Bobbin Robbin got them to build a water bar for him and the other birds, all ‘she’ wanted was to take photographs of them.  This was ok with most of the birds but the blue tits didn’t like being photographed in the bath.

But I digress.  This year ‘she’ placed some long bags on the sunny side of the  house then planted some plants which I heard ‘him’ refer to as tomatoes when he told her they were growing well.  Every night ‘she’ watered these plants and the soil inside became soft, damp and warm.  So, I thought, why don’t I ‘move in’, it had everything I wanted, protection from the hot sun, it was moist, didn’t dry out and for insects was a toads delight.

Only I forgot about the watering.  Yesterday they went out early so I looked my new home over, crept under the flap then settled down to have a snooze.  But I slept too long so that when they came back to water the plants I was still asleep under the flap, suddenly the flap was pulled back and I was soaked. ‘Oh look’ she said ‘Michael come and look at this’.  ‘THIS’ she called me ‘THIS’, well that did it, I hopped out and hid down the back of my bag while I waited for her to go away. No such luck, first ‘he’ came to look at me, said I was nice and thankfully went away. Not her, off ‘she’ went to return a few moments later with her camera and took my picture, twice, I ask you once would have been enough and you wonder why I look cheesed off.

Still they went out again and I was able to go looking for my dinner, not a bad result either I came across a rather tasty looking lady toad called Flo and who knows……

(c) Michael Bosc

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It’s really not fair, here I am el Buzz the famoso Humming Bee, dining on some jasmine when I find myself in an embarrassing position it happened like this:

I live in the forest where there is an abundance of nectar flowers, but over the last few weeks the bees have been buzzing on about some really sweet Jasmine I ought to try.  The only problem I saw was that there were humans around, so before I tried it I asked Tim Bee if it was safe.  ‘Safe?’ he replied ‘look, these are strange humans. One day Bobbin Robin said it was not fair that they were the only ones with a drink, so what did the female do? got straight up and fetched a dish thing. Then male filled it with water making a tank to keep it topped up, no these humans are ok’.  As it turned out he was right.

Well,  I thought nothing to lose so I popped down there. Oh what a delicious plant nectar to die for (and I nearly did).  She was hanging out the washing when I found this really sticky flower. ‘Oh’ she said ‘you’re pretty’. and carried on hanging out the washing.

Now by this time I found I could not get my mouth out of the flower.  There I was hovering and tugging this way then that. But every now and then I would just hang for a second to get my breath oh that did hurt, then try pulling again.

Whilst this was going on she disappeared returning with her camera and proceeded to take photographs.  It did not take her long to realise that I was in trouble. One good shout and he appeared with a flat thing in his hand. Then after a good look he picked the flower head laid both it and me on the ground a gentle squeeze then tug and I was free.  I did not hang around but buzzed off.  However I returned a bit later only this time I was very carefull as neither of my protectors were about.

I remembered something my mother told me ‘if a flower smells very sweet but no one else is trying to drink from it  ALWAYS CHECK IT FIRST!’ good advice.

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Paul Ryan – Hunt For Mitt October???.

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After leaving Gandesa (not in this cart i might add, the barrels are empty), I headed for Batea a small town situated in the  mountains about 19kl further on. You approach Batea along a country road past vineyards gently lazing on sunny slopes being tended by their owners and workers.

What I did not know was this town seems to be built on wine, it’s a wine lovers dream with a celler on almost every street, so many in fact that I shall be wandering in and out of here for some time.

As you enter Batea along its main road, you pass several neat and tidy buildings before noticing a small shop selling wine and olive oil. It is just past this you see a small press sitting in its own garden, a symbol that says a lot about Batea.  Here the road begins to climb towards the town centre and looking down some of the small side streets, I noticed several large painted posters advertising wine from another Celler.

We arrived in the square which has adequate parking for cars on either side of the tree-lined central plaza with benches under the trees to give shade to those sitting and watching their world go by. Here there were groups of old men sitting on benches discussing the world and remembering how it was in years gone by.

Like Gandesa, Batea was on the front line during the Civil War, and received quite a battering.  In the old quarter it has still managed to retain its individuality being one of the few remaining examples in the Terra Alta.  Some of  it’s porches, covered walkways and mediaeval buildings still remain, giving an insight into the architectural styles of those times. The largest example is the main street, with its arcade with ogive arches from the fourteenth century.

Well that’s a condensed history of Batea, but I was after wine and the Co-operatieva in particular.  I parked our wagon in the main square and wandered off in the direction of the Co-op.  It was whilst walking down little side streets there that I passed several other Cellers, three in fact, and none of these was the  Co-operatieva.

Walking down a street the countryside became visible and there was the new buildings and Botiga for Batea’s co-operativa.

This is an imposing modern building, unlike the others I have visited.  There is a soul you can feel when you enter the shop, it is light and airy displaying the wines, olive oil and other products. However, there is an almost spectral aroma, it is not there, yet….  it has to be the spirit of their total love for their wines. Farmers here had been producing wine and selling it individually in the local community for centuries but in 1961 they grouped together and the Celler was born. The wine is produced in the traditional ways using concrete vats both above and underground, which as always adds to the final product.

The working part is mainly on the other side of the road, so we crossed over to take a look.  Here I found the concrete vats standing square and proud with more underground, maceration vats, very much, you might think, like the other Cellers, but there was something different here, once again that presence. These concrete vats are used for the production of the white wines.  The grapes are first placed into stainless steel vats for one day to macerate naturally. Then over night the final press is carried out and the  ‘musk’ is transferred to the concrete vats where it spends 3 weeks fermenting, from here they go to the French oak barrels to mature.   These concrete vats each hold 20,000ltrs of wine with 60 vats underground and 33 above.

The Grapes used here to make the white wine are White Macabeu, Garnatxa, Muscatel, Chardonnay and Parellada.

The red wine is fermented in Stainless steel vats in the new building next to the Botiga. There is a total of 29 imposing structures with each vat holding 50,000 ltr.  The grapes are Garnatxa red, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon red, Tiempre negre and Carinyena. These wines provide some of the nicest sipping wines I have tasted in Terra Alta.  There is also a wine which gets a second pressing, this I will be looking at later in the summer.

The Celler has around 1445 Hectares of vineyards, and uses natural cork in their bottling plant.  The vineyards are located in several different micro climates within this region it is as the names suggests ‘The High Country’, with little valleys giving the wines rather peculiar characteristics but make for some interesting and pleasant drinking.

The Wines: I have selected a few of the wines which I think you might like.

The First is a  Rosat: Vall Major.  This wine is a bright pink cherry in colour, with just enough acidity to appreciate its freshness and elegance. There is the hint of raspberries and roses, a fine combination that served chilled is a good early evening drink.
The grapes used to achieve this wine are  Garnatxa Red and Syrah
The Reds: this is Vivertell Negre
This wine has a rich ruby colour and good legs indicating a high llevel of alcohol.  There is a spicy aroma with the hint of fruit which gives it a Nadal feeling, christmas.  It sent my taste buds on an adventure, being both soft and fresh. This is most definitely a wine to be sipped and enjoyed.
The grapes used to produce this wine are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnatxa Tinto, Tempranillo and Syrah.
The next red is  Tioicitat  This wine has a deep dark colour well bodied.  Here there is an intense nose of fruit and spices, rich and sensuous. The flavour is full with again a hint of spice. This one reminded me of a very good Sherry or Port, definitely one for relishing or complementing a good meal.
The grapes used for this are: Garnatxa Red, Syrah and Tempranillo
I now come to the white wines.  Terra Alta is known for their splendid white wines and I have picked  Primicia Chardonnay and Vallmajor. I will start with the Chardonnay.
This wine is a fresh tasty wine pale yellow in colour tingeing on pale green at the edge.  The nose is fresh with hints of tropical fruits and an underlaying touch of citrus.  It’s fresh to the mouth not too acidic and very moreish with a pleasant lingering taste. One for the fridge and cool evenings.

The grape used in this wine is: 100% Chardonnay which gives it that pleasant sensual feel.
Now the Vallmajor Blanca
This wine is pale yellowish green in colour, and has a balanced taste. It’s nose again reflects floral notes with a hint of freshly cut grass.  This is one to be sipped whilst enjoying the late evening sun and reminiscing.
The grape used in the wine is: Garnatxa Blanco
 You will find these wines on www.cellerbatea.com  or you can contact them on cellerbatea@cellerbatea.com . I can say that you will not be disappointed in fact you may even feel like visiting them and seeing for your self.  Their fax is: 0034 977430589  I hope you enjoy Cheers.

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