Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘olive oil’

Part of our garden, rocks, shrubs, herbs and olive trees not to mention the pines – some of which grow mistletoe or have squirrels drays in them.  It is in this environment that my wife insisted she had a garden of sorts. Lack of water decreed that it should be mostly bulbs and drought loving plants so here’s how we go along.

Lots of weeds, an angle of the forest  and a couple of sculptures..

As most of you who follow me know we live on a small olive in the middle of a forest with wild boar, wild goats and other animals. This is not a great problem for me but for my wife and her small flower beds it’s a bit like painting the Fourth Bridge you get to one end and have to start again at the other.

The garden is only one part of life up here the olive trees and the odd almond tree not only keep me busy but tending the olive trees is a full-time job.  I have plenty scattered through my bit of forest but around 30 on fairly flat terraced land which I can easily reach and look after.  Being in my 70’s plus not having agricultural water I have no intention of farming on a grand scale – it does not pay – but I look after enough trees to produce our own olive oil for the table for about 6/8 months of the coming year.  So I thought I’d talk about them properly from our perspective no quoting statistics or things like that, just observations on my own trees plus a bit of history. Thus forgetting about the commercial growing of olives this is how we grow and make our own Olive Oil.

On my little tractor to collect wood

The trees on the finca are very old, some are around 1,000 years old with bases that have, over the years and with encouraging new growth, been in the ground for centuries. It is well documented that the romans grew olives in this part of the country the fact that terraces were built along the side of the now long departed river that once used to sprout from the side of the masa and run down to the river Ebro. It also shows the ingenuity of their engineers and that they had slave labour as the terrace walls are not only still standing centuries later  but are deep and well-built.  Every now and then the boar will disturb one trying to reach grubs and the result is a collapse that offers an insight into history.

It was the same with the trees. Olive trees are an interesting subject, before we owned the farm I did not realise that they flowered. Every year the trees turn from a deep green to a creamy green as the flowers open.  There is no perfume but the bees are very busy, as the flowers die off you begin to see the olives forming.

Before trimming and Sam’s garden built round it this tree in all its glory

Today they have machines which can grasp the trunk of the tree and shake it collecting the olives in a large bag which then passes them into a truck a bit like you see the combine harvester doing.  Our trees however are to wide and solid for this plus the terraces are only big enough for a man and donkey.  The other point is years ago to get more olives from each tree and make picking easier they would do several things. First they would split the trunk into three so eventually they ended up with three trees instead of one.  Secondly they kept the middle of the tree open so light could get in there.  Thirdly the trees were kept to a certain height for ease of picking.  As time went on people let the trees grow a bit taller and made A-shaped ladders to reach the olives on the upright branches.

 

You can see here how large and tall they can grow if not farmed.  When we arrived here this tree was like a huge Oak tall with growth around the base so much so that we didn’t realise there were actually three trunks.  So I set to and lopped them halfway up then let the branches sprout leaving a few branches to produce olives.  I have to say that it still needs to be pruned again climbing a ladder to cut the branches so we can get at the olives is a risky business at our ages.

But olive trees are a hardy bunch, they have to be up here.  They put down long roots to find water  80 mts down is an underground river and I know that some trees put roots down a lot further than that.  So they have over the centuries found the water,  but they also have to fight the bugs that live in the ground some of which attack a tree from the middle eating it away they then turn into large black beetles which lays eggs in the ground near a tree and so it goes.  The result is that the olive tree will repair itself even when the centre is hollow and this can be a little daunting when hit by lightning, however  the roots may be burnt but the tree still goes on.

And this is just the start, so here

the introduction.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc  –  Author

Read Full Post »

The Clotxa

This is breakfast at the Olive Fair in Mora La Nova – the Clotxa.  Every year the fair is held to celebrate the olive oil harvest, we missed it last year first time since we have been here, but I went to the Ajuntament and bought our tickets and for 3euros this is what we have.  Half a cob loaf with the centre hollowed out a large sardine, tomatoes, garlic and onion plus wine, olives and of course olive oil.  So here’s the routine:-  you que up hand over your ticket and take your breakfast and bib (oh yes you need it), then wander along and find a table to stand at and eat.

This is a community thing and standing at the tables you meet other people. Families, friends and faces you see when out and about who’s names you get to know so you can place them when you wave to each other, really nice.  As you can see from the picture it is served in a plastic bowl.  This year it came in a covered foil container. When we arrived just after 10am it was in full swing and as you can see not many breakfasts were left.

We collected our and found a table. There were a few other people at the table so it was a pleasant morning not cold like some we have been to which makes a difference because believe me it takes a while to eat this and you really do need that bib.

                               

After breakfast we headed for the hall to see the olive oil stands and who had done well in the competition and a coffee.  As we were passing the tables I took these photos:-

People were still arriving and as you can see there was not a lot left, but is that a coffee stall I spy by the door?? It was but very busy so we decided to find another one.

Inside the hall the layout had changed.  Normally it is crowded with stands and the competition section (this photo) where people make moli d oli a sort of olive oil butter very tasty and good for you.  Next to this in the centre of the hall was an olive tree with the various things you need for picking. In the first photograph you can see the ladders which were used simple but practical. in the second jars for storing the oil and in the last one you will see an old-fashioned olive chute something which would help us enormously.

                    

It was by the tree that we found the coffee stand and coffee in hand wandered round the stands. This one has won first place before, the trophies are the FIO’s on top of the stand.  You could eat your way round the hall tasting all the different oils on toasted bread. There is believe it or not a different taste to each oil just like there is with wine, took me some time to work this out but once we began pressing our own oil it became clear.

Further round on the other side of the hall I found AiBar, a little Celler I found with some very nice wines. As usual the cellers also produce olive oil which is very good.

All in all it was a lovely morning and we totally enjoyed ourselves. But the strange thing was we did not see another English person – no one we knew by sight that is – who had been there before.  It is such a sad thing when people do not join in with the local festivities they miss so much.   If you would like to know more about AiBar’s wines then follow this link. https://wp.me/pVcwA-1i3

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc & Jason D’ebre – Authors

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Our Home Made Olive Oil

The How and The Why of It

So about the oil why do we do it?. Well  up here our trees are so old that the olives are ready before the commercial presses are.  We were getting a little depressed seeing all the olives on the floor that two years ago we decided to make our own.   But being pensioners we did not have any spare cash and the machines that we would need were very very expensive.  So being an engineer I had a good think, ran some ideas by my wife and the result was what follows:-

     

 

First thing was the crusher (or Wesley as my wife named it):  We had an old cement mixer that was just lying around which my wife was going to convert into a flower container, but we decided that with a bit of tweaking it could be converted into the crusher by removing the beaters inside and filling the holes to make it leak proof.   A day later and job done, now I needed some large stones these were easy to find cleaned up and along with some old petanca balls I had the perfect crushing machine.

 

        

Second Item was the press:  Now this was a little more difficult as we don’t have a donkey or two very large stones so we opted for a small grape press cheapest we could find and we were all set.

 

  

​Filtering Department:  ​This is done on the kitchen counter and works well.   We save empty water bottles and large containers  plus Pepsi bottles and small olive oil ones, once cleaned they stand ready to be filled. Then we place the funnels with the filter paper in the bottle neck and scoop oil into the first one. Once this is full we repeat the process into the final bottle and the result is clear virgin olive oil.  The large container you can see is a 6ltr water container which the top has been cut off. This goes under the press to catch the oil and is then brought into the kitchen to have the oil skimmed off and filtered.

How we do it: 

​After picking the olives we empty the buckets into the crusher turn on the small generator and away it goes.  We wait until the olives are pulped into a ‘mash’ then I empty them into a bowl a bit at a time and take them to the press.

Here I line the press with an old pillowcase or other clean material making a hole in the bottom so that it will fit over the screw.  Once this is in place I put a layer of pulped olives in then cover this layer with some very fine netting and so on until all the olive pulp is in the press. I then add any oil that was in Wesley crusher fold down the pillowcase over the top layer then place the  wooden top of the press then come the blocks and finally the heavy metal screw.  By now gravity is working and the oil is flowing and I haven’t even turned the screw yet.

  

Once the flow stops I start turning the screw and pressing for real.   When the container is half full it is taken to the filtering department (wifes job). Here two bottles at a time are filled with the un filtered oil by placing a funnel lined with good quality kitchen paper as the filter.  Next the oil is scooped off the top of the ‘sludge’ and poured into the filters where it drips through as clear golden olive oil.

The ‘sludge’ that is left is mainly water and residue  so the water gets siphoned off and any oil that’s left is added to the filtering system. The resulting sludge is then taken to the garden and emptied.

So that’s how we do it up here Bosc style:

​Back to the picking

We have picked the tree next to the house but I am afraid one of the trunks will have to be cut as you can see it is leaning over and although its been like this for years it does not look like it can last much longer… so cutting back part of the trunk will stop it from eventually coming down.

  

        

Now these photos show the tree at the top of the drive which has not been touched for years as you can see. We picked it yes but Carol would not allow me up there with a chainsaw (wonder why???) So whilst she was out the other day I got ladders and hand saw and began. Didnt stop me being told off for not waiting till she got back (it’s a long drop to the next terrace) but I was fine so whilst she picked the lopped branches (guess who’s chair this is!!) I tackled the other side of the tree. With the result that only those branches you can see are left but until the wind drops off (as fronts go through it gets windy here) they can wait. We have 2ltrs of oil so far from these two trees with another pressing in progress and we are starting on the field today – yes ladders, saws and stuff will be used. We tend to prune as we go for obvious reasons and it works for us.

Now it may not seem very productive (lots of oil) but we normally get at least 6 months oil, this year we are hoping for a bit more plus it keeps us fit and the end result is our own oil made with our own hands and a little Heath Robinson thrown in.  Oh and as you can see from this picture oil does freeze, yep it gets that cold up here. But I siphoned the water which was underneath this and the oil was nice and clean so there was not much waste after the two filtering.  We ended up with 5.5 ltrs enough table oil for the year.

So from two happy old pickers its good by till next year.

 

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc  – Author

 

Read Full Post »

Making Our Olive Oil

img_0656-640x480-320x640

This is our first bottle of home-grown olive oil from this years crop. We did not think we had enough olives to press but then it rained! not a lot but enough to fill them out a little.  Now we could pick the olives and take them to the local commercial press but there is a snag.  The presses are still making wine and our olives are turning black so by the time the second week of November comes round we would have no olives.  You can’t pick and save them for nearly a month because by that time they will have shrivelled up and gone like stones, so on the basis of that last year we decided to do it ourselves. Along with a little ‘heath robinson’ approach a dash invention and a good dollop of *&$%£ing we ended up with 6x1lts of our own oil.

img_0652-640x480-428x320

When we decided to pick this year, the trees looked like they had black leaves so we started with the tree in front of the house. So we spread a large net under the tree, Michael got the step-ladder and small saw I got my ‘picking chair’ and we were off.  All the olives that fell to the ground – and missed the net – were picked up and placed into the old cement mixer which is our crusher. Large stones were added and it was turned on and left to do its job.

img_0649-640x480-585x433 img_0650-640x480-598x430 img_0651-640x480-428x442 img_0654-640x480-464x480

After a while we had a pulp which Michael then wrapped in cloth and placed in the press, then the real work begins. The press is turned until the oil starts to run then every few hours till eventually no more oil is left.  Then the container is brought into the kitchen where it is filtered several times until we have a clear oil.  This takes a few days but is worth it. The oil when it comes from the press is a combination of black sludge a little water and the oil itself.  To separate the oil and water its left to stand until there is a visible layer of oil of the top then it’s passed into one of three lemonade bottles to begin the filtering.  When you are trying to filter the oil some of the black sludge gets in there so the first filter takes that out, the second takes out any cloudy residue and the third and final filter is to make sure the other two have done their job then it’s poured into 1ltr bottles before being capped and stored.

 

Black Redstarts and Bloody Pigs

img_0664-640x480

I like to think this is one of Sam’s brood. For those of you who haven’t met Sam before he was a little Black Redstart who became my gardening friend.  When I was digging he would be there to see if there were any grubs/insects he could eat. Michael thought he was funny and we were heart broken when we came home one day to find him dead in front of the house, so in his memory I called the tree garden ‘Sam’s Garden’ and things in it have done very well.  We got the boys last year and yesterday we heard this bird calling to them.  Then this morning there was the Redstart sitting first on the tv areal then flying down to see what I was doing in the saffron garden.

img_0037 img_0658-640x480

This is what the saffron garden SHOULD look like! below is how it looks after the piggy wigs have been there!!!

img_0662-640x480 img_0660-640x480 img_0666-640x480

What was I doing there??  trying to find any saffron bulbs that the wild boar hadn’t eaten!!!!  I had over 40 bulbs in that garden I have exactly 15 left, so I am planting them in a tub so at least I shall get a few bits of saffron this year.  But I did have a nice surprise I found one crocus open in the small walled garden with others on the way I just hope the boar don’t find them or there could be saffron flavoured pork on the menu…

Well there you have it, do it yourself olive oil making and gardening forest style.

(c) M D Bosc  – Author –

 

 

Read Full Post »

BIG MAMA X

IMG_0061

It was confirmed yesterday morning that ‘Big X’ is actually  ‘Big Mama X’ and is sitting on at least one egg (Boris told them one is less work than 4)

056 DSCF4773 (640x480)

The news was reported to me by the Finca reporter Boris Blackbird and his news-hound Tricky Dicky Redstart.   I confirmed the report by peeping into the nesting box and seeing one egg.   Boris said he had had his suspicions about ‘Big X’ but he wasn’t sure until Tricky Dicky started to tell him of conversations with ‘The Cooler King’, along the lines of hens moods when they are ‘nesting’.  He said she is getting really stroppy and wont let me sleep in the box at night.  It was a good job the humans kept a fire going or he would have frozen.  As Tricky said ‘CK’ didn’t know about real life like we do.

IMG_0058

Now when we bought these two I was under the impression that they were two males as they fought for a day when put together.  Plus it was always ‘Big Mama X’ who was in charge of the escape attempts, ‘C.K.’ seemed a bit submissive to me I suppose I should have known.  Then a week ago BMX started staying in the box.  Wife got really worried, one of her ‘boys’?  didn’t seem well BMX was quiet, and poor old C.K. was sitting on the top perch on his own at night, no matter what time we went into the kitchen. Well now she knows and it’s a hard job trying to stop her from peeking into the nesting box but she knows if she does they will probably abandon the egg and kill the baby.  So camera is at the ready for the big day when it fledged or is old enough to be peeked at.

The Visitors

 

DSCF2275 (640x480) DSCF2316 (640x480)

 

So there you have it the best kept secret on the finca, well I know the others knew but hey we are humans after all.   There is a lot of treat shopping going on these women stick together at times like this.  Sunflower seeds, millet, extra special seed loads of water for when BMX takes a break from sitting and the fire is on just incase it gets really cold during the day. Can’t have BMX or her egg getting cold…..  All I can say is wait till they/it hatches CK you stand NO chance and will have no peace so make the most of it.

Boris is keeping an up to date report going and we have had several visitors to the FFZ chatting to the CK  and BMX when she comes out to feed.  My wife had to take the tree lights down as they were using them as perches when they visited.  Told you, these birds may be wild but they are canny.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

Read Full Post »

Olives and Sam’s Garden

DSCF4758 (640x480)

For those of you who don’t know this is Sam. He was the little Black Redstart who followed me around the garden and played hide and seek in the tree.  We found him laying dead on the gravel one afternoon when we returned from petanca, to say it broke my heart was an understatement. This little chap had provided me with hours of fun and Michael was fascinated by the antics of this little wild bird.  So I decided that I would re-do the center and surround of the olive tree next to the house and call it Sam’s Garden in his memory.

DSCF4908 (640x480) 20150331_084728 (640x480)

To begin with I thought to leave the tree garden as it was but viewing it in flower last spring I decided that it needed some filling and just a little tweaking, so here’s what I’ve  done.

IMG_0184 (640x480)   IMG_0186 (640x480)

These two photos are the ‘before’ ones showing the garden before I got going. As you can see the tree is very old and divided into three parts. The front two face the house with the third trunk facing the drive. Now unfortunately olive trees grow lots of shoots which have to be cut off and these are no exception, so snipers in hand I got stuck in.  Whilst I was at it I rebuilt the small wall at the base of the little slope then made another at the top forming a small area that I can grow Nasturtiums in and let them tumble-down naturally.

IMG_0189 (640x480) IMG_0201 (640x480)

Then I turned my attention to the front part.  This faces the rose garden, and what a surprise I had, there poking their heads out were two snowdrops. Now when I dug up the lilies which were taking over – only the small clump remains – I found lots of small bulbs in them but didn’t know what they were so I simply replanted them and hoped they would grow.  I had originally planted snowdrops and crocus Michael had bought me but only saw a few crocus appear.  Now I know why so am hoping for a small show next spring.

IMG_0191 (640x480) IMG_0193 (640x480)

These two photos show the  ‘after’ look.  In the first one you can see the small wall at the bottom of the slope and the new one at the top. The clump of leaves in the centre are wild Grape Hyacinths, these grow everywhere and I am constantly digging them up and re-planting them. The second photo shows the drive side and the clump of wild asparagus I found.

20150902_085045 (640x480) 20150902_085055 (640x480)

Last year Michael decided that the trunks near the house would look good shaped like saucers and we could leave the back trunk for the birds to play in, so saw in hand he set too. The result is quite good and as it grows we can shape it into shade cover for the bird bath and strawberry patch.

IMG_0192 (640x480)

Ok take a look at this.  This my gardening friends is Wild Asparagus.  It grows around the olive trees and in the forest, so I have cut it back to ensure it produces the tender slim shoots that taste heavenly and make a really tasty omelet.  I shall be wandering round the fields snipers in hand cutting back any I find to ensure we have a good supply.  The season only lasts for a short while but mmmmmmm worth work.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

Read Full Post »

Bringing in the Olive Oil

049

This picture taken in the height of summer shows the workable part of our olive trees.  The rest which we are gradually bringing into line are tucked away in the forest, but we still have around 30 trees here.  Because we have not been pruning some are like large Oak trees this year they have fruit on them so they are being pruned as we go.

 

20151012_191535 (640x480)

As most farmers will tell you here the olives are not pressed commercially until this time of the year ie., November, but up here they have been turning black since late September.  Not wanting to lose any oil I decided that instead of loosing them we would do it ourselves.  So I bought a small press and we started picking.

However, we found that because we had not been able to keep the trees on-line for the past two years there were not as many olives as we had first thought, oh yes there were there but they were very small,  but we continued pruning, picking and pressing and so far we have 4 ltrs of oil.  With a few more trees to go we will probably end up with 6 ltrs not much you may think but for us that is a lot and will take us through most of next year plus any I win at petanca. My wife also buys oil from the annual Olive and Honey fair in Perello so we do quite well.

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

Read Full Post »

The Usual Stuff

 

DSCF5263 (640x480)

DSCF5313 (640x480)

DSCF5299 (640x480) DSCF5300 (640x480) DSCF5306 (640x480) DSCF5305 (640x480) DSCF5324 (640x480) (640x480) DSCF5325 (640x480) (640x480)

20151012_191429 (640x480) 20151012_191715 (640x480)

These past weeks have seen some spectacular skies what with the moon turning red and the end of the world predicted.  We even had a partial rainbow but, of course, no rain. So these spectacular skies, the moon (and no we didn’t stay up) and the rainbow are our only reward. Then I discovered my camera wont work so now I can’t use it so have to rely on my phone and the tablet not good….

Olive Oil…

011 (640x480)

20151012_191535 (640x480)

Right as you will have gathered by now we own a small olive farm and over the years we have not had the time to tend it properly.  Most of the trees here are 100’s of years old some – so we are told – being  1000 years old, which I can believe as the trunks are like small oak trees. To get the trees to produce fruit they need to be pruned which means taking all the branches that are growing up right out leaving the centre clear with plenty of light, removing all the dead wood, which encourages new growth which in turn produces the fruit.  However, because over the years we have had to travel to back and forth to Michael’s doctor it became a bit difficult.  So this year after little rain we expected to be pruning but not pressing the olives  WRONG!!!! On inspection I discovered the trees were covered in fruit, not much rain at all here so yes Sods Law is alive and kicking…..

Normally picking olives and taking them to the commercial press is done sometime in the first two weeks of November with pruning in early spring.  However this year everything seems to be early and if we left them till then the olives would all have fallen and been no good,  so it was off to visit Keka (think that’s how his name is spelt) to purchase a small press.  Now we could get going.  We started on the first tree of the left side of the fields then moved to the small ones on the first level. Lots of pruning and picking later we had our first pressing, so Michael got his trusty pulper going and before long the first batch was ready for the press.

Because of his hand I won’t let him use a chain saw up and down ladders with that in hand is not good, so until his hand’s sorted out it’s literally hand pruning. There is a lot of dead wood up there so we find it easier to using the hand saw. It is rather nice working away in the early morning suns just getting warm, birds are shouting and hollering at our two, conversation is good and when he’s cut enough branches we sit go and pick the olive together. We are obviously not the only ones who work like this, when we were out yesterday we passed another couple doing exactly the same.

Sitting in our kitchen/diner is the first container of oil which is resting to allow the water to settle on the bottom. Once this happens I will syphon it off then leave it to settle again before straining it several times into clean fresh containers.

Autumn Hunters

005 (640x480)

October brings a new sound to the forest, the sound of dogs, bells and guns, the hunters are back.  The season is from October to March and only on two days a week last year it was Thursday and Sunday, not sure which days this year. I have to say that until the guns go off we don’t always know they are here and they do not hunt near the house.  Hunting is a subject that is full of holes, sometimes it is necessary to cull the wild boar because this is farming country and they do do a fair bit of damage to crops. However, being a National Park they have to get permission to hunt and the wild boar have not suffered, in fact they are beginning to thrive again.

New Additions

DSCF5311 (640x480)

This is Bluebottle. We were out shopping in the market last week and as always stopped to look at the birds.  Michael was particularly taken with a parakeet very pretty with a blue bum, so he’s called Bluebottle.  Twice he went back to look at him then I said “if you really like him get him and a cage” .  Next thing I knew bird in cage in front of car me sitting in back and sir having a conversation with a passenger who didn’t talk back…..  Well he seemed a little lonely so today we went back and bought another one a Grey this time named Eccles what else…..  Now I am not casting nasturtiums (I know what I wrote) but it has to be a male.  The chap put the bird in a box with air-holes and we started for home, calling into the supermarket on the way.  We opened the boot and loaded the shopping opened doors and got in. Drove along then all of a sudden Eccles was flying around in the car – good job the aircon was on –  Eccles had chewed his way out of the bird box so we stopped the car and when he landed on Michaels knee he caught him, replaced him in the box and with me holding the lid on and covering the hole Eccles had made drove home.  Once home Michael took him into the livingroom  opened the cage door placed the box against it and waited… and waited…. and oh you get the idea.  The result was that he had to up-end the box to get him into the cage.

Job sorted you might think but oh no!  They spent the next hour shouting at one another and every time Eccles went to feed Bluebottle chased him away. Same thing with the swing to the point where Bluebottle dislodged his swing then tried to commandeer Eccles, so Michael went out got some wire and sorted this out. Then I had to lay the law down to the pair of them.  Know what? it worked!  I re-hung the swing they had knocked down then we watched as they both sat on it, no squabbling no noise and when Eccles went to eat Bluebottle sat and watched.  Michael has made a hanging place for them in the fly free zone where they can sit and shout at the ‘gang’ who come sit in the olive tree and tweet, shout and screech back at them.  Believe it or not they are now under their cover cuddled up and QUIET!!!!!

Petanca Birthday Party

Last Saturday we had a really lovely day.  Now this weekend here it’s a bank holiday so we wont be petancing and next weekend is a competition so last weekend was the only one free. We bought the wine and our friends did the rest we played a small competition Michael won Beer and Olives and I won wine and crisps.   Then we went and sat down to  pernil, pan tomate, olives, crisps, several different meats with wine, beer, small alcohol wine (4%) Pepsi, lemonade and water.  This was followed by melon, then sweet cakes served with the coffee and either brandy or whisky.  I didn’t drink so drove home Michael just had a really relaxing good time.

Michael also had some good news about his operation on his hand.  He has a cyst growing on the tendon of his hand and it became infected so his doctor sent him to see a specialist who said they would operate but there is a two month waiting list so in December along with his scan it will be sorted. And no he can’t type very well at the moment.

 

(c)  Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

Read Full Post »

DSCF5109 (640x480)

A Little History 

This photograph shows all that is left of the railway bridge which like others was destroyed during the civil war. This part of the Ebro valley, like Mora d’Ebre and Gandesa, was also in the thick of the battle for the River Ebre and every year it holds a commerative day depicting the battle, with vehicles, authentic uniforms and enactments. During the Battle of the Ebre some of the bloodiest battles were fought about 8km north of Fayon.  In July of 1938 on the 25th the 42nd division of the Republican Army crossed the river in this area, but were then surrounded and massacred in the hills by the Franco’s army.

Fayon was part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lleida, but in 1955 Fayon along with Mequinensa was segregated from Lleida and merged with the Archdiocese of Zaragoza.

The original village is now beneath the waters of the dam and the present village of Fayon was built by ENHER the state-owned company who built the dam.  Like so many of these mountain villages Fayon was originally a mining community here it was coal.  But after the mines closed the village lost 50% of its population.

A Little Fishing

DSCF5110 (640x480) DSCF5111 (640x480)

These days it is better known for its fishing, and in the café where we had a coffee these were displayed on the wall advertising the fishing potential of the river.  As you can see catfish are a bit big and these well known fighters can and do give anglers a run for their money and quite a bit of excitement.  Some of these catfish can be as big or bigger than some of the boats, I remember watching an angler on his own,  trying to get on into his inflatable dingy. After I had watched his struggle for a while and seen him get half of this fish in the dingy I carried on into to town.  I later learnt that he didn’t manage it but at least he got his hook back, the next time I saw him he had a solid boat and companion.

Coffee Before The Event

DSCF5108 (640x480) DSCF5112 (640x480)

We arrived early and went for a coffee. We found the café overlooking the swimming pool that every town has regardless of size and enjoyed the view before we left for the courts.  What I did not know was this little ‘cafe’ is actually a very well known fish restaurant.  Its menu is varied with high quality recipes and good value for money, which explains why as we were leaving Fayon we noticed quite a few people heading for it.  We would have done the same, except I did not know then what I know now, it must be the best kept secret in Fayon.

Petanca

The Petanca competition is held on the local football ground with courts laid out.  Once again there seemed to be fewer teams playing which is a shame as it is one game that the youngsters would enjoy. The Café had wifi which pleased my wife as she had somewhere to work whilst I played, so once the competition had started off she trotted to return just at the right time.

The Prizes

DSCF5114 (640x480) DSCF5118 (640x480) DSCF5117 (640x480) DSCF5116 (640x480) DSCF5119 (640x480)

As you can see there were some very good prizes to play for.  Hams, olive oil and wine for the winning team, a selection of dried sausage, wine and olive oil for the runners up, followed by olive oil and cheese for the winners of groups and finally olive oil for those who came second.  So here in no particular order after the winners are the photos  our club last.  Hope you enjoy:-

DSCF5128 (640x480) DSCF5127 (640x480) DSCF5126 (640x480) DSCF5125 (640x480) DSCF5123 (640x480) DSCF5122 (640x480) DSCF5129 (640x480)We have another competition in Mora d’Ebre this weekend and my wife’s playing interesting…….

(c) Michael Douglas Bosc

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

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.

DSCF4457 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480)

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.

DSCF4464 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480)

DSCF4462 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480)

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.

DSCF4481 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480)

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.

DSCF4470 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480) DSCF4468 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480) DSCF4467 (640x480) (640x480) (640x480)

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

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: