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Then It Rained!!!!

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Right now most of you who read the blogs will know, we have been bemoaning the fact that there has been very little rain this year, in fact as a local pointed out if the river wasn’t there this part of Cataluña would be a desert.   Well Monday it rained, yes it did  and how. It began in the morning with the sort of thing we have got used to, a sort of drizzle that can’t decide whether to go full on or bog off somewhere else.

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We had been into town to get the shopping when it  began to get wet and windy, very windy. The drive home was interesting loads of twigs, leaves, rocks and stones on the road plus the odd tree by the river blown down.  When we got back we unloaded the car then parked it and we just had time to grab a few logs and get the generator going before it hit.  First the rain came down sideways as the wind was so strong, this led to a puddle on the bedroom floor under the closed (I might add) window it was that fierce.  Next it began to come in under the front door so the mop was in action, then Michael looked out the back. We are glad he did but at the time I wished he hadn’t, it was just like a river  flowing. It was so strong that it was literally flowing over the sumps of the cisterna, all that water gushing away then the generator began to splutter.  So with umbrellas up jackets on we were out as action was needed and quickly.

 

Firstly Michael had to sort out the flow channels to get rid of the huge puddle that had formed in front of the house and was in the process of washing the sand away and had made its way into the generator shed where water was steadily rising.   I held the umbrella whilst he pulled the weeds up that had grown in the  channel and also blocked the runoff drain. Once this was done a deluge of water began to either rush down the slope towards the track where it continued its down hill run towards the river.  The water that came out of the pipe onto the lower level would not have disgraced the effect of a water pump had we used one.

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Next we tackled the shed. This was simple knock a hole in the back wall and the water came out with a little help from me and a broom.  Whilst I was getting the generator shed sorted Michael went and sorted out the sumps to the large cisterna.  Now this went on for around an hour and a half during which time the water from the roofs, gullies etc.,  filled the 5000ltr small cisterna, one of the 1000ltr cubes and 3/4’s of the large cisterna not to mention the wheelbarrow, buckets and sundry that were outside.  There aren’t any pictures as we were to busy getting rid of the water, but this morning the first saffron crocus appeared in the saffron patch in the garden, the ones in the field have also begun to arrive, says everything really.

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This is not how the track looks now, it’s full of gullies where the water dug it out rocks and stones everywhere, what was once a fairly smooth track now exists.  The road into town was strewn with rocks and mini slides which had come down but these were the usual suspects,  the really worrying bit is on a bend where there are two trees with roots exposed and they are leaning a bit. We have no idea what the top end of the track is like but the town hall has been out having a look at things so must be bad.

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

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Introducing the Boys

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Do not go ahhh they are not as sweet as they look but we love them.   I suppose I’d better start at the beginning.  There is a market in one of the little towns every Wednesday, and at the top of it is the pet stall.  Every time we went there Michael would stand and look at the birds. This time he went and looked at Bluebottle a couple of times muttering I really do like him, so I said if you want him buy him, which is how we came to go home with Bluebottle sitting in his cage in the front seat while Michael drove and I sat in the back.

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At home he had the coffee table to sit on but as the week progressed he became quiet and a little uppity. So the next Wednesday we went back and bought Eccles – that’s right Bluebottle and Eccles!  Now as I have previously said, nothing we do goes exactly to plan and Eccles was no exception.  He was placed in a cardboard box with air holes quite secure so you can imagine how we felt when driving home he suddenly starts flying round the car – little devil had chewed his way out – so Michael pulled over and Eccles landed on his knee then sat on the dash-board which was how Michael was able to catch him. Once back in the box with my hand covering the hole he behaved, so the drive home was fairly quiet.  When we arrived home all we had to do was put him in the cage, easy….don’t you believe it.  Michael opened one of the cage doors held the box up against it and waited, and waited and well you get the picture and I know you’ve heard it before.

We are slowly learning about them and they are very different individuals. Bluebottle is both noisy and cuddly whereas Eccles is fairly quiet but also cuddly.  If one sits on a swing the other one sits on the same swing, so we got them one each waste of time they still sit on the same one.  They chase one another away from the seed trays, but when they think we are not watching they cuddle up together.   Night time is regulated by light, it gets dark they want to go to sleep, gets light and they want to get up and go outside.  We cover them with a blanket but I have to admit they love sport they will sit cuddled up on their mineral block and watch the tv. Michael thought they wanted to sleep and covered them over you should have heard them so that’s how we know they like tv.

During the day they are either outside hanging from the olive tree or in the fly free zone depending on the weather and wind.  The wild birds are interested in them and we have a Black Redstart that sits in the tree and shouts back.  You will probably hear a lot more about them as we go on, a trip to the Jardi Land is on the cards with ladders, bells etc., on the shopping list.

Talking of which must get the boys in as the winds getting up and they are swinging, stand by for shouting and squawking.  If either of them ever talk first words will be  SHUT UP!!!!

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

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Tranquility

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The above picture has nothing to do with my writing or translation of my books,  it is just a picture of somewhere I would love to be when the translating gets tough. Since the beginning of the year I have been busy translating my books into Spanish, not easy I can assure you. I have a professional translator package but bless its cotton socks it does not understand nor like London slang.  It therefore throws a wobbly and either ignores things – which is no problem – or completely changes everything.  Grrrrr!  But I have persevered with it and now have a few people who read the results and let me know where it does not make sense – and at first there was a fair bit of that.  Then its back to the machine notes in hand and off we go again.   It is at times like these that I am glad I have gone back to school to study Spanish plus my Professor gets a little light reading.

The Books

The first book I translated was An East-End BoyUn Nino de Final Este. This was where the translator first got upset and changed things around. As it was pointed out to me it had taken a woman’s name and in translation altered it, thus turning her into a rapist, hey ho.   So it was back to the beginning and start again.  This time carefully checking things like Mr and Mrs making sure they were correct. It was amazing, ‘Trans’ would leave them unchanged then later in the book change them into the Spanish.  So it was read, check then read check again. Ask one of my readers to check it over then back to the beginning again. However, after all this it was done and is now out on Kindle.

My latest book for translation is A Perilous Future – Un Futuro Peligroso.  This was not too difficult as like most things after the first time you begin to get the hang of it. ‘Trans’ still threw a wobbly now and then but I was ready for most of them.  It didn’t stop me from wishing from time to time I was in that picture though, especially late at night.  Gradually we have come to an agreement, ‘Trans’ does the job I installed him to do, then I go through and correct everything I can, which in the last book was not much before passing to a reader. We then make any corrections necessary and finally we have a book for publication.  By the time you read this Un Futuro Peligroso will be out on Kindle.

I have since learnt to treat this programme with patience and understanding much as you would a child learning to read.  All in the hope that my next book will go even better.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

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This weekend saw the Falset Wine Festival, we missed it last year so made sure we got to this one.  We were pleased to find it was back on the main street of the town like it used to be, the last time we attended the fiesta was up in the castle which left the town virtually deserted.  I did not think this was good for either Falset, the cafe’s/restaurants or the vintners as it took people out of town and away from the wine Bodega’s that did not have stands but just opened their doors.  Anyway, we decided we would go after Petanca for the early evening when it would be cooler.  The first thing we had to do was find somewhere to park as all  the car-parks were full to over flowing, but behind the Co-operativa I managed to find a space so I was happy.

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We entered at the bottom of the main street and found the stands were arranged along the left hand side.  People were wandering around with their ‘glass in a bag’ – you bought this for about 20 Euros along with tickets that enabled you to sample the wines – or sitting at tables outside some of the Bodegas.

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There was also entertainment, I noticed a group of musicians taking a break whilst at the top of the street a ‘human tower’ contest was taking place. There were several visiting teams which included young and old alike but this was the winning team.

 

 

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We then went for a drink bumping into one or two people we know in the process. After a beer we decided to wander around to the main square which is hidden in the heart of Falset.

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Here we found the cheese stalls, passing small artisan shops selling coffee as well as the delicatessen wines, cheeses, cakes and breads on our way there.  Whilst in the square I found some really nice goats cheese so cholesterol is ok for a while.

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As you can see from the first photographs it was a packed street with people wandering around tasting wines or just standing discussing them, but I did manage to get fairly close to the stand of the Capçanes Celler, it is here they make the wine for the Jewish Church in Cataluña. I could see  they were busy as there was quite a crush there.

 

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But we did manage to get to the El Masroig stand to be greeted warmly and discovered they have re-branded, and produced a very light Roseada for the UK market.  I bought a bottle of their new young red and the Roseada to try at home as it was almost impossible to do so there.  But I have made an appointment to visit and find out more about these wines.  So to the New Roseada.  As I was informed this has been made for the UK market and the Celler was asked to make it lighter in colour as the deep pink we have here was not to the taste of the customers for that market. The result is a very drinkable wine almost a white with a pink blush which is perfect either cold or at room temperature, the Celler has this one spot on.   The red is a young wine and meant to be drunk young, this is not for laying down.  I found it to be pleasant and very drinkable and one for my shopping list.   So I shall be going into more detail about these and the other wines from El Masroig when I visit.

© 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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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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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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