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Archive for April, 2014

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Today finds us sitting the FF Zone (fly free zone) enjoying the sun which is around 20° today. My wife has been suffering with her tooth and yesterday the last bit of root came out so her gum is quite sore.  So I decided it would be a jim-jam day and apart from sitting here in the sun she gets cool coffee and toofy pecks to make things better.

I’m enjoying sitting outside working, we both have our machines on the table and there are plenty of distractions. Boris and the others have been singing and diving around along with another newcomer to the fold.  We don’t know what this one is but its small about Robin size with a beak which I would say is for winkling out grubs, however when it opens its wings its back is yellow.  But it fits in nicely here as it spends most of its time shouting the odds or bathing in the water bar.  The Wall Walker is back and busy with his new nest either that or the eggs have hatched and its feeding time.  We missed so much at the beginning of this year, but are steadily catching up.

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It’s like the poppies.  We always imagined them being English, but they bloom everywhere here, the hillsides and our part of the forest are full of them.  My wife has counted around 5 different types in both red and white, taken the heads to sow more seeds in autumn, only to find the mice have been munching, I opium they enjoyed them.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

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Well it is the first of May next week and that weekend heralds the Falset Wine Festival.   The last time we visited Falset’s Wine Festival it was held in the castle with around 50 stands from the Priorat and Montsant DO all displaying their wines, which for 8 Euros you could buy a glass and sample.

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We did not manage to get there last year due to family but we have been told that the Festival was back down in the main street where it was usually held, although there were not as many stalls at before.  Despite this it is a renown wine festival with other things happening besides wine tasting.  You can for instance, attend lectures on the various aspects of wine making and tasting.  I would like to try and attend a blending lecture as I find it rather fascinating how they manage to get the various blends.  My one problem is that I know what I like and find some of the reds a little ‘mouth pruning’.  Having said this I can honestly say there are few that I do not like or could drink.

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 I am not an expert but look at wine from the lay-mans point of view which is, if it suits my palate that’s fine.  But I have been taught so much about this art of wine making,  that I now know a lot depends on the blender and what he/she is trying to achieve. I have also learnt that the old ‘red with meat and white with fish’ is basically a snobbery thing.  People who not only grow the wines but make them will drink their produce be it Red, Blanco or Rosado with what ever they are eating.  In certain parts of France they drink red wine with fish, but then that is the wine they produce. So I am certain that a ‘wine snob’ is someone who knows what they like and sticks to it regardless.

 

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Some old friends and new ones exhibit here and it is always good to meet up again and learn what is new or different since we last spoke.  I will be looking to see if any Cava stands will be present.  This wine is very underrated and I feel it should be promoted a lot more as in my opinion it is far better than Champagne having no sugar added to it.

If you are in Cataluña do yourself a big favour and visit the Festival, you will not be disappointed and you can see for yourselves why I am so taken with the wines of this Country.  The Festival is on from Friday the 2nd of May until Sunday the 4th of May cheers!!!!

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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Today is St Georges Day, both here and in the UK. St George is England’s patron Saint although you would not know it, he is also Catalonia’s Saint and this is where the difference can be seen.  In England the 23rd of March usually passes without a notice let alone a mention of tv, which basically says a lot about the Church of England and Government.

The Church of England for what ever reason does not actively encourage the people to remember their own Saint. Perhaps they are more concerned with offending others, why I cannot say but there is no big mention like there is on St Davids day.  As for the Government well, we could have a National Saints Day if only to prove we are English and England is our country, but I doubt if any of them are THAT patriotic.

However here St George is celebrated in true style.  Today is the day when the men give the women they love a red rose and the women give the men a book.  It actually says quite a lot about tradition and pride in your country. The rose which was blooming and white was drenched in the dragons blood when George gave it to the fair maiden he had saved hence the red rose.  The book for St George was, I presume, a token of gratitude which like the book and in all true traditions became a token of love.  There is also a tradition of giving a yellow rose to friends so it is possible for everyone to get a rose.

As for me well my wife has her garden of roses she writes poems and I write books.  Our hallway has a book case and I don’t want another book but I expect I will buy her another rose.  We have the red rose of love, the yellow rose of friendship, the white rose of purity and several shades in between.  I have what I want we have been married for 49 years this year ups and downs like everyone else  so I think the rose garden covers everything oh yes and there is a Peace rose in there I can tell it by its perfume and colour they were bought to celebrate peace.

Happy Saint Georges Day Everyone

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

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My garden in the forest is so different from my garden in England. For a start England has a fairly – not including the past year – steady rain fall and sunny days. Where as here we have heat and very little rain so everything I grow has to be drought tolerant.  I will explain a few things so you can understand what I am talking about. This is the track that runs from the river Ebro through the forest across our land and on up to the ridge. As you can see it is dry and dusty nothing like the forests in the UK which are green and cool. Our olive farm is off to either side of part of it surrounded by forest where in summer the ground dries to rock hard and is very very stony. But in the winter from October to May our growing season means we get the rains and the ground is workable. However we do not grow much of our own veg because of the water situation, but we have set up a system which allows me to grow butternuts and tomatoes.   So I have found that bulbs, roses and lavender along with a few others grow here quite well.

 

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We do not have agricol water here as we are too far from a) the river and b) the pumping station so we keep the garden water in cubes and go to the river to fill them up.  These pictures are not recent as I have been gradually changing the garden they have now been moved to the next level which makes both filling and watering the garden a lot easier.

However what can be found here is worth every hour spent weeding and a walk along the track will produce plants and flowers you can only wonder how they get there.   There are actually wild Iris here which grow without a lot of water, then very small Daffodils which have every type of trumpet you can get the large ones in. Add to these wild Grape Hyacinths which grow in the most stupid places such as paths, Honeysuckle and Jasmine, and these are only the start.  To give you an idea of what I mean will post pictures of the wild flowers as well as my garden ones,  and will start with these oddities.

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The first time I saw them I thought I was looking at small fir cones and went to pick them up only to find they were firmly attached to the ground and plants.  They produce feather like seeds from their tops eventually opening up to release them like dandelions.  I am not sure what they are called so if anyone knows I would be grateful.

 

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This is a plant I call the ‘Carrot Plant’ on account of its leaves being like the tops of carrots, and like most of the unusual plants it is everywhere.  There are more like these which makes the forest very interesting.

 

© C.A.Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is a while since I visited the Co-operativa in Batea, so once my life had returned to normal I contacted Judith and heard they had a new wine. This was a must visit so I hitched up the ‘Wine Wagon’ and on Wednesday morning headed off into the high country. The day was fine and warm which for this time of year was a plus. although there was a gusting wind which made driving through the mountainous terrain interesting.  The drive took me past the pink hue that are the peach and nectarine groves heralding the coming of spring whilst here and there farmers were doing some late pruning.  Although they were all wearing jackets I was quite sure they were pleased that the sun was out even if it was a little windy.  I arrived in Bata around 11ish and went to meet Judith in the showroom.

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This Co-operativa is an ever evolving entity, a place where new ideas are born and sure enough when I entered the bright and  spacious  showroom I found bath products such as Garnatxa bath oil and Cabernet Sauvignon soap for sale. This is something that I find interesting as it is a new way of presenting the various varieties of grape to people and I rather fancy a Sauvignon shower.  But these were not what I had come to see.

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Ranged along one wall are the various wines and liqueurs that are produced and sold  here in Terra Alta plus the odd bottle of Cava from Penedes.  Sitting on a shelf near the new wine was something that no kitchen or cook should be without – Ranci.  Here it is used in cooking by the older generation to add flavour to dishes and  has a warmth and bite that reminded me of  “cooking sherry” a perfectly pleasant drink just don’t let the cook near it.

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But this is the new comer,  the wine I had come to see the ECOLÒGIC. There are three wines in this collection one white and two reds. First to arrive on the shelf is the white. This is a pale yellow which if held against a white napkin gives a soft slightly lemony hue, with a hint of violets but certainly you can sense wild herbs on the palate. But this wine has a flavour of something which is just out of reach but oh so familiar, almost as if it’s teasing you to pin the ‘something’ down. It certainly made my palate want more if only to do just that, this is definitely a wine for summer and is certainly on my list.

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However the reds are to  follow.  Because of their time in the barrels the first Tinto not due till April, with the last due later in the year after spending around 12 months in the oak barrels. To explain this Judith took me to the barrel room.

 

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So I will explain the blend. The barrels on the left contain white wine which is blended with the red in the barrels on the right to produce the Ecologic reds. The first red to arrive spends 3 months in the barrel and is blended with white wine from the Garnatxa white around 10% to three barrels of red.  The Other red which will be a slightly deeper colour is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon at 10% to four barrels which gives it its distinct flavour.

The White is particularly good so I am looking forward to the red later this month.  Judith also informed me that they only use the oak barrels for around two years then these are off to make brandy, or perhaps somewhere to sit, sip and contemplate the art of wine making.

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Cheers!

© Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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