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Archive for September, 2013

HS2 – The Alternative.

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The Cider Press

The Cider Press.

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Here in our part of Spain Wednesday 11th of September was Catalan Day, the day they remember the fallen of the 1714 – War of the Spanish Succession and the Spanish Civil War.  It cannot be easy for some families for, as like all civil wars, it divided some even to this day. This then is also their Remembrance Day.

This is one of the boats the Republicans crossed the Ebre in after the bridge had been blown up. Today it is a memorial to those who fought for Catalunia and paid with their lives. Every organisation lays their own tribute, the Petanca club being amongst them, and this year they placed little upright crosses decorated with the flag of Catalunia and small bouquets.

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Fighting as in many places was fierce here, and I am told  there are recesses in the cliffs behind some of the houses along this little road where the hospital took refuge away from the german bombers. Over this past week they have also been celebrating the rebuilding of the bridge. In ‘Bar Turo’ Ramon has lined one wall with photographs of the construction and the people who re-built it.

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But we were off to our own celebration at the Petanca club, where as usual the Paella was king. We have been to many of these over the years and each time it has been fantastic.  This is what all the fuss is about, it is a mix of chicken and/or rabbit with a few raw prawns added (fish not Aussies). Jose is a very good paella chef, the fact that there is never anything left proves it. He takes the large paella pan  covers it in olive oil then adds bunches of rosemary and thyme along with turmeric (or if you are feeling really rich, saffron) to give it colour.  Then after this has infused  the herbs are removed and chopped garlic, onions and red peppers are added and its given a stir, and lastly the meat and fish go in.  Next water then the rice then after a good stir a cover of foil goes on and its left until meat, fish and rice are cooked.  Don’t worry if it forms a crust on the bottom that is how it’s supposed to be cooked.   Now this is not all that is on the table, there are plates of olives, crisps and salad all washed down with wine and water.  Then at the end of the meal before a game or two of Petanca there is melon, grapes from members own vines and small cakes plus coffee and whisky.   So here are the happy few:

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Oh yes, an incase you think we OAP’s only play Petanca, this cheerful chappie is Ripoll.  He is a ‘on line’ artist with exhibitions in Barcelona. As always we had a wonderful day spent with friends and wended our way home along side the river happy and contented.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Ahhh September! This is the time of year when we would normally be visiting the Cellers to see how their wine is made. But this year it has been a little difficult for me to do so. However things are back to normal now so I decided to take a look at some of my articles before once again setting off in search of more wines. So here are a few with their links hope you enjoy this stroll.

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We have visited Mas Roig  http://bit.ly/1cUxVzG the little wine town near our home at their harvest time, and seen how the grapes are still picked by hand as not only are the terraces to small to get a mechanical picker on them, but some of these vines are bush style vines. Not grown in the straight upright lines you often see, but left to grow as a small bush like the Garnatxa grape. So because the grapes are hand-picked they come into the Celler in wagons lined with blue plastic so they do not lose any of their precious juice.

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We have been In Batea http://bit.ly/Q3CkFm at their harvest time and seen first hand just how busy they are with the tractors bringing in the grapes and sometimes tankers taking last years wine off to places such as Lamancha, where it is used to either bulk their wine or sold on to other wine makers for blending.  Yes this does happen and there is nothing wrong in doing it. Lets face facts, if the excess wine was not used in this way it would result in ‘wine lakes’ which, unless you had a big straw and a huge thirst, would be wasted.

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At this time of the year both the black and white grapes are full of juice, but it is the white grape which is slightly larger than the black that is used to make Muscatel a sweet golden wine.   Although this is a sweet wine, I would not class it as a ‘pudding’ wine.  It has a good body plus a fruity aroma which, so my wife informs me,  makes it very more’ish and I have only seen her ‘protective’ over one other non sparkling wine and that’s the red Garnatxa from Capsanis http://bit.ly/17hHJl0 which is more like a port but with a history.

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Then there was the Pedrola Celler. This ia a small family run Celler http://bit.ly/100A1r5. on the outskirts of Miravet where they make a spectacular sparkling wine in the traditional way.  It might only be on a small-scale ’boutique’ style at the moment, but they have some good ideas and are quietly getting their wine out there. It is out in British market, so pay their site a visit and go find a treat.

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Next is another small delight with big ideas that is doing well, the Pascona Celler in Falset http://bit.ly/199l7mJ  where some really fantastic reds are to be found.  This little known Celler is a well-kept secret at the moment but Toni and the boys are determined to make their mark with their wines grown in the three different types of  soil that crisscross this vineyard.

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And finally a little Celler tucked away in the mountains of the Monsant region http://bit.ly/17hVHmS.  Here you will find a rather different wine called Castle Siurana Rancia plus again the history of a determination to bring fines wines to the world.

So with these varied and traditional cellers around I hope to be kept busy over the winter, re-visiting some and visiting other for the first time. I have not forgotten about Cava  I have given up the idea pointing my wagon in a certain direction, this time I intend to wander along the country roads and see what I find, it should be quite interesting.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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A Destructive Policy

A Destructive Policy.

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I have not often been asked why I write about sex, but this week a lady asked me why I wrote for Lesbians.  To say I was a little taken aback was an understatement, so I asked for an explanation.  It seems that after reading A Caring Killer she came to the conclusion that I write from the female to female point of view. Although I personally would say I write from a Bisexual point of view. Now it has never been my intention to write for one gender or another. I write because I like writing and being a normal male I also like sex. I feel that there has been a taboo on this subject for far to long. Plus I find that unless it is cruel or in your face, for some reason people do not find reading about it interesting.

I try to write with passion and a feeling of love. Here is a brief resume of both Jason Watson and Stanley Saunders two very different people living in very different times but with one link sex!

” Jason’s story begins in the late 1700’s relating of his adventures both in the Royal Navy of the day and ashore in Jamaica, where, because of his sex drive, he has some amorous adventures.  Jamaica in that time accepted having a mistress and a wife as normal, but it could and does get a little complicated when Jason’s women get together.  But running through all this is a love story, deep and open with a care for his wife that today could seem strange.  This love encompasses all aspects of married life including her relationship with his mistress who becomes her friend and lover, not to mention his affair with her sister.  History tells that the social acceptability that ensued in the Jamaica of the 1700’s, was not acceptable in Bath or London. It was quite acceptable for Jason to have a mistress or two but not for his wife.  In A Bengal Poppy I followed Jason’s activities in England via the Europe to China, where war, drugs and as always sex played a great part.

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Then there is Stanley:  Born to a single mother just before the war, she brings him to London where she takes to the streets to provide a home and food for them both.  When war comes she is recruited by the government however when she is no longer wanted, she again turns to the streets.  Here she meets and mingles with gangs, villans and other low life of London’s East end.  But Diane is a very resourceful woman. She saves hard eventually buying a home for her and her precious son. Stanley’s mother loves her son and he loves his mother who has provided for him and protected him, he loves her enough to kill for her – and does.  So begins his career first protecting her, then doing ‘odd jobs’ for various gangs finally becoming a skilled assassin. Through it all runs the love story of Stanley and Gillian who were school sweethearts.  Again the women turn to each other for comfort and relationships develop, but there is always Stanley getting his fair share of the action”

I asked her what she thought of the story line and the book in general. “It was fine. Fast paced, plenty of action, sex and intrigue. It showed me an insight into peoples attitudes towards lesbian relationships and politics, nothing changes does it. The action really worked and the sex was well written, not blatant just normal. – did Canada really happen like that? did you know Stanley well? – yes Michael I liked the book, now I shall have to read A Loving Son then A Fathers Kill to find out what happened.”

Telling life as it was for some people in the East end of London and not hiding its warts or scars, is a story of survival. Making things ‘pretty’ just to please the public is not good, life was often very un-pretty for Diane and Stanley. Along with rationing and making ends meet, went the seamy side of their lives. Prostitution, gangs, racketeers, corrupt police, murder and general mayhem. It was a dog eat dog world for some and to survive they did what they had to do.

Diane was no angle, she was manipulating, calculating and basically deadly. She adored Stanley but could control him as she wanted. The fact that she looked after her ‘girls’ was the one good point in her favour. She made sure they were clean, kept their bodies and general appearance in good order and spoke well. Afterall they were high-class ‘escorts’ and brought in the money, along with useful information. When the time came she also knew how to handle Rupert the ‘Man From The Government’ when he ’employed’ Stanley, and her marriage gave Reg promotion.

I suppose looking at the stories again, they are written from a womans sexual point of view. After all the girls like each others company and enjoy each others bodies. So yes if you look at it like that, I suppose it is written as a Lesbian sex novel. But on the other hand from a male point of view, Stanley has his sexy and attractive partner, then there is Gillian. So along with the adventure and action he has what he wants or has he?????

All my books are out on Kindle.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Wine is fascinating, well I think so, and I have often been asked why I bother to write about it as I am not ‘an expert’.

Well I do so for several reasons actually, apart from the obvious I find it rather educational. But reasons well:-

First): is to write about wine from a “duffers” view-point. As someone who knows nothing about it except they like to drink it. None of the snobbery that goes with some writers is here, I tell you exactly what the vinters tell me.

Secondly) I have found that each Celler is different in the way it produces wine. If you add to this it’s history and tradition then you have fond a Celler which brings an individual taste to the wines produced there.

Thirdly) The care, sheer joy of the Vinaters in what they are doing and a ‘want’ to share their wines and methods with the rest of us. To listen to these experts talk about how they produce their wine, including their family history is the most gratifying thing a writer could wish for. I have been made most welcome by everyone on my visits and been taught a lot about wine, this Celler was no exception.

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I have visited quite a few Cellers in the region around my home, but this particular Celler is rather intriguing.  It is tucked quietly away behind Falset which is the heart and control centre of the Montsant and Priorat DO regions. Unless you knew exactly where to look, you would never find this little mine of a vineyard. Here they grow grapes in several types of soil each field a different grape giving a different taste, and body to their wines.

I first met Toni on his stand at the Mora la’Nova Fira last October, a young man who has studied hard, loves his job and knows his wines. He is the latest vintner in a long family tradition which started with his great, great, great, great-grandfather a Doctor, in 1827. After the devastating vine blight of the 1920’s, his great, great-grandmother Maria Pau and her two daughters re-started growing vines. The wine produced then was mainly red and of one blend, however, today is a much different story.

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Toni has worked hard to reclaim more of the fields from the mountain, clearing and in some cases, replanting the terraces. These are south-west facing but each field has different soil. As we walked towards the top of the mountain we crossed a small rickety bridge which linked the lower and upper terraces when walking. Here I could see the different terane, in some  fields the soil was clay in others it was a cross between sand and grit whilst the last soil type had a definite mineral feel.  There are various mineral mines around the area which give vines grown in this type of soil a slightly peppery aftertaste but they also lean towards a more bodied red wine.

Walking on ever upwards towards the top of this little mountain, I could see the hard work Toni had put into this vineyard and I do mean hard.  Each terrace is wide enough for a man to walk comfortably between the rows but there is no room for a mechanical picker. Everything here is done by hand and some of the vines are years old grown in the old way, and Toni is very proud of the history that goes with each variety.

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The Celler itself is small with only two stainless steel vats the others in true tradition are concrete. Once the wine is made it is matured in French Oak barrels which add to the wines flavour.

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Well you cannot find a more diverse selection which comes from one Celler than here. There are 5 different reds and Rose.  Because of the ground they are grown in each wine has its own taste, and story to tell the drinker.  So I will start with the Rose:

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Besides making his own wine which is made totally by hand and produces around 50,000 bottles of excellent red wines, Toni has been in partnership with Pep and Patri since 2011. Since 2010 Pep and Patri have rented part of the celler for their wine making.  But the wine that they and Toni make together comes from the mineral grown vines, which gives this wine it’s peppery after taste resulting in a very smooth and very desirable and  to coin a phrase ‘lip smacking’ red.

 

These wines are really worth discovering they say more about the talent of this man and his colleagues than anything you could write. Toni tends his vines with the love and passion of a true Vinater, tradition is all, when try them you will begin to understand the hard work that goes into producing such nectar.

You can contact Toni on www.pascona.com  give them a call then you can say you have tasted some of the best Montsant wines going you will not be dissapointed.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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