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Archive for January, 2014

A Boar’s Lament

lA Boar’s Lament.

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It has been ages since I have spoken to 001 Claude Pheasant, so it was nice to hear from him again.  It seems his cousin Sir Sideney (with two e’s) Effington has moved into the area and bought the Hall near Farmer Johns.  Boy he sounds such a show off, Claude said he wears a silver suit, calls everybody ‘old boy’ even shouting ‘what oh’ when he sees someone.  I heard a large sigh on the phone, poor old Claude.

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I have to admit I didn’t know Claude was so well-connected. It seems his father has an older brother who inherited the title, estate and money.   Whilst Claude’s father went into the Civil Service and did very well (no wonder Claude got the job).  Anyway what is upsetting 001 is the fact that Sideney is trying to get Claude to build a new home “grand as befits the family”.  Poor old Claude  he really likes his home at Farmer Johns “what do I do Mike” he asked.  “Lady Effington is a real pain she keeps taking me out to lunch and the wife gets really  feathery about it. I’m so fed up, I mean have you seen that old hen? she has more bald spots than FJ, at least he’s funny, what am I going to do?” He sounded so down not his usual cheeky self, this was serious.

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I had to think this was not an easy situation. I asked what FJ thought about Sideney.  There was a small cauky chuckle “if Sideney gets too much he starts eyeing up the pots and sharpening his knife”. Even I had to laugh at that.

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“Do you know what else he has done? he’s employed a painter, not a decorator, but an actual painter like Gaughan, to decorate the Hall. As if that’s bad enough the artist is a FOX!!!  I can’t see this ending well. We have never seen this character with a brush in his hand let alone paint smeared”  Whilst we were talking I got this mental picture of Sir Sideney in the House of Lords dressed in his robes with his cornett squiffy on his head sitting amongst the other peasants, it was hard for me not to laugh.  Still by the time we said goodby an idea had come to 001 and he was a happier chappier.  I am not sure what he has in mind but can’t wait to hear what happened.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

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At last Christmas, New year and Three Kings have passed now things can return to normal. Here on the 5th of January the Three Kings herald the end of the festivities and the christmas lights are taken down.  Although we did not go to the Three Kings we decided to take a wander round the town to see the lights before they disappeared.

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I must explain that Three Kings is celebrated here as the night the Three Wise Men took gifts to Jesus.  The square in front of the Adjuntament is cleared and a nativity set up behind a small warm bonfire – it is enclosed and tended – then three thrones are set out on the steps of the church.  When the Kings arrive the children go up and tell them what they would like for presents and if they have been good, bit like Father Christmas.  Now if they have not been good they are given a piece of coal – black honeycomb – I often think the kids would like the sweets anyway.

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Mora is a small town but although there is a squeeze in Spain the lights they put up would not have disgraced Oxford Street and they did not cost as much either.  The main street had balls of coloured lights in varying sizes strung diagonally across the road giving the impression of the universe. The street leading to the Adjuntament (town hall) was hung with sheets of white lights that sparkled and gave the impression of sheets of diamonds.  Whilst three other streets were hung with bows with the lamp-posts decked to look like diamond and ruby earrings with a blue fountain at the end. Mind you I did notice the reindeer had been hungry as some of the apple lights had been nibbled.  But telling you is not the same as showing you so here are a few pictures hope you enjoy.

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Well there they are I hope you enjoy them.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Terraces

These are some of the vineyards that nestle in the valley behind Darmos next to Celler Aibar 1895.  As it’s name suggests this family run winery has been producing wines since 1895, when like a phoenix, it raised itself out of the ashes of the wine industry following the devastating phylloxera epidemic which destroyed the vineyards.  Gradually the grandparents of Jaume Pinyol began to restore the vines and passed down their knowledge using the technology of the day to produce some very good wines.

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You can see from this photograph that it was a cold wintery day with a watery sun shining.  But the warm welcome we received from Jaume was worth the visit.  Jaume was very pleased to tell me something of his family history and how his wines are made.

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His grandparents worked very hard to rebuild the winery after the phylloxera epidemic, and were keen to use the modern equipment that came along. Unlike many of the Cellers we have visited there are no concrete vats here any more. They were replaced with stainless steel ones last century and Jaume has installed small modern vats which have airlocks in their lids, plus some larger ones with jackets that keep the temperature constant. Those of you who are home wine makers will recognise the method with the airlock.

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From here the wine is placed in French Oak barrels and left to mature, where it stays for between 3 to 9 months or 3 years depending on the wine in question. The barrels on the bottom row have the 3 year wines. Today the Celler produces around 40,000 bottles of seven different wines, mostly young fruity reds plus some full bodied reds and their white wine is excellent.

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So about these wines, I tasted 3 of the 7 so will start with:-

PARELL BLANC                                                                                                               

White being my wifes favourite wine I will let her describe it. This is a clean young white wine with a crystal clear moderately pale colour. Its aroma is very floral I could sence roses, fruits and just a hint of violets.  In the mouth it is very soft and fresh, but there is a good body to it which lets the taste linger long after you have tried it. This is a wine well worth drinking if only for the sheer pleasure, and like the others it is designed to be drunk young.  The Grapes used in this blending are Muscatel Alexandria and Macabeu in a  60%, 40% blend, and spends 3 months in the barrel.

PARELL ROURE:

This is a red wine also designed to be drunk young its has a fruityness but also a slight complexity.  There is an intense red colour which is both clear and vibrant almost bordering on the purple.  In it’s aroma you can detect the barrels where it has matured this makes for a very rounded wine.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and  Merlot in a 40%, 20%, 20%, 20% blend, and spends 9 months in the barrel.

XYZ TRIDIMENTIONAL:

Now this wine is for savouring. It is full boddied with a moderately intense cherry red hue which is both brilliant and deep.  It reminded me of wild fruit whilst lurking in the background was a hint of cinnamon, its warm, cosy and one of the nicest reds I have tried.  It’s taste is soft, warm and a little complex, with a lasting after taste that makes it very moorish.  The grapes used are  Garnatxa Negra, Syrah and Merlot in a  60%, 20%, 20% blend. This wine can spend between 3 months to 3 years in the barrel.

I have covered the three wines that most impressed me but there are a lot more to this range that are worth drinking. however, this is not the only thing this Celler produces. There is some excellent Olive Oil produced here and the original building, which was in decline, has been lovingly rebuilt with the equipment on display plus a diagramme of the working machinery. However that is for the next story of this Celler.

I would like to thank Jaume for his time and allowing us to look around his Celler.  He is very proud of what he produces and rightly so, exporting his wines to the Nederlands, Estonia, Switzerland, Sweden and Girona. I am surprised that America has not taken these wines, they don’t know what they are missing.  I do hope you will try them you can contact Jaume on:-  celleraibar@agricoles.eu .

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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The Working O.A.P's.

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Well 2013 has drawn to a close.  So I thought I’d take a look at what has happened in the forest and on the finca this past year.

I will start with the finca as my wife has finally begun to layout the garden as she wants it.  Gardening here  is not like gardening round a house, there you don’t have a forest to keep at bay.  However her idea is to incorporate  or ‘smudge’ the edges of both garden and forest so that one blends into the other.

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So on the small terrace above the car-port she laid out a cacti garden with various plants given her by our friends and some we found on derelict buildings. As you can see some even flowered.  As this was a really stoney patch I gave her a hand to get started.

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The first thing we did was to clear away the weeds and rake as many stones as we could from the areas where the plants would go. Next we edged circles with stones and planted the cacti in them. This meant that the surrounding area between the circles could be laid with stones making pathways and hopefully keep the weeds down.

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Now to get to this garden we had to climb a small slope, and knowing us we did not fancy spending a hot summer with a leg in plaster, so I built some steps.  So now we can walk up and down in safety.  This was when my wife had an idea, uh oh….

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Last year she bought some Saffron crocus and planted them under the olive tree, however there was not much of a harvest.  What she should have done was plant them in full sunlight, you soon learn these things.  But this year nothing happened until I started to give the tree a loping then they all came up and she has had a bumper crop of saffron.  So to her idea. Well it’s this, as soon as the green starts to die back on the bulbs she will move them to the garden she has prepared beside the steps which is in full sunlight.

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The next thing to be sorted was the rose garden, but where to put it was the thing. The one we had was getting to small for her collection as a friend has given her some old-fashioned English roses, so I suggested the end of the house outside the bedroom.  This is now done with lavender planted in amongst them as it is supposed to keep afids away.

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The other thing is we have found and old ‘boot’ and a ‘bear’.  So my wife is busy laying out the edging of the garden which incorporates these two and her Xmas present is now defined she wants a small sculpting set, apparently the ‘bear’ needs a little bit of definition…..

As for the forest, well we still have not seen any wild boar yet, it’s nearly two years since we saw the last one up here. Even the hunters have not found any.  But we have hopes that they will return, the goats are back on the mesa and the birds don’t  like my pruning, mind you they like the digging my wife has been doing so swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts.

We are keeping a watch on the wildlife a usual because when we were in the UK for my medical in 2012 we returned to silence and no birds.  We could not work out what was wrong but after a while they began to return.  We think it was the hunting dogs drinking their water as once we had restarted the flow they were happy again.  Some of the trees have been blown down during the winds but they are safely on the wood pile.  So I am looking forward to a quiet 2014 in the hope of things returning to normal and the garden getting finished.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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