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Thursday 3 November 2016

Harvests 2016 all done

Another year, and once again all the grapes are in. My last harvest was the Malvar on Monday 10th October.  And not a moment too soon! Because after a long, long, hot, endless summer with zero rainfall, it stated raining heavily and properly all over Spain on Wed 12th! Ha! So I’ll have to find something else to complain about, as viticultural tradition demands J

I did a total of 15 harvests this year, in 15 different plots, for a total of 15 different wines:

1.      Albillo (Charco)
2.      Albillo (Fx)
3.      Garnacha (Charco)
4.      Doré (Fx)
5.      Doré (Pp)
6.      Sauvignon Blanc (Qx)
7.      Tempranillo (TET-A)
8.      Garnacha (Castañar)
9.      Garnacha (Dehesa)
10.   Garnacha (McCarb)
11.   Chelva (Early)
12.   Villanueva
13.   Chelva (Late)
14.   Airén (Carabaña)
15.   Malvar (Villarejo)

That’s 2 red varieties (Garnacha and Tempranillo) and 7 white varieties (Albillo, Doré, Sauv, blanc, Chelva, Villanueva, Airén and Malvar).

I vinify each plot separately even if it’s the same variety, because it’s more interesting that way. It’s amazing how different the wines are, even if the plots are close together and the winemaking techniques are the same. For example, in El Tiemblo (Sierra de Gredos) the Garnacha Castañar plot is only about 1 km away from the Garnacha Dehesa plot as the crow flies, but the grapes and wines are totally different.

The novelty this year is a variety called Villanueva. It’s not uncommon in the area but it’s usually just a few vines interspersed among another predominant white variety. But by chance a local grower, who has an entire vineyard planted to Villanueva, came by the winery one day to offer them to me. ‘Why not?’ I thought. It’s a rather tiny plot, and there was only 150 kg. So I crushed them and pressed them and let the must ferment in small tinaja – in tinaja because it was the only container small enough available at the time!

All the rest I’ve done before, and am following the line of ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’! That’s to say that for all of the wines listed above, I followed (am following) the same techniques that have worked for me in the past, with regard to decisions on type of container (steel tank, wooden barrel, clay tinaja), maceration times if any, with or without stems, etc.

The only crazy experiment I’ve done this year is to follow a recipe I read in Pliny the Elder’s ‘Natural History, Book 14, Chapter 12. I followed the first recipe of the three he gives. So I guess I’ve made (am making) a beverage called ‘deuteria’ by the ancient Greeks and ‘lora’ by the ancient Romans. This is the stuff that was quaffed by slaves and labourers. The original glou-glou wine?

Following are some assorted photos, from over the summer:

View of the Albillo (Charco) vineyard, with the Alberche river in the background.
El Tiemblo, Sierra de Gredos

Bird's eye view of Albillo macerating

Bottling machine

My Garnacha vineyard using no chemicals, next to a naked agro-chemical wasteland vineyard!

Bottling up

At a wine fair

Sheep in the Garnacha vineyard, eating weeds and dropping caca!

Sheep entering

Living soil, for healthy vines

My pet nat exploding on me! Too much pressure!

My Chelva vineyard, surrounded by the houses of El Tiemblo village

In another Garnacha vineyard, steep, in El Tiemblo, Sierra de Gredos

Bottling up!

And to finish off, a note on the word “sapid”

I generally find it impossible to have decent in-depth discussion on FB or other social media sites. And a few weeks ago, I found myself feeling frustrated because I couldn’t say what I wanted to say! I think that FB and other sites are just not the right place for a proper discussion or debate: basically, they all tend to favour spur-of-the moment, shooting-from-the-hip type comments, right there and then, whenever you happen to come across an interesting post that you feel like commenting on. There’s just no time to think before typing! Apart from wine, I also like words, so I was doubly affected!

This had been annoying me for days, so I decided to do something about it. After searching on the internet and after doing a bit of ‘due diligence’, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a very useful word to use in written wine-tasting notes or while speaking live to an audience. The due diligence consisted in asking native-English-speakers, uncontaminated by knowledge of a foreign language, if they knew what ‘sapid’ meant. Not one did! English-speakers who know a Latin language would know ‘sapido’ (It, Sp, Pt) or ‘sapide’ (Fr) where it’s quite a common word for everyday use and just make the connection.

Firstly it’s not a very common word at all in English (see here, this is just one of many word-frequency sites) and so it’s not likely that the readers/audience would understand what it means. This may depend on the level of knowledge/culture of the audience though, so an audience of hardened winelovers may have come across it before. But still!

Secondly, once you discover the meaning of ‘sapid’, you also discover how useless it is, for it means “having flavour” “tasty”. Which covers just about every edible/drinkable substance in existence, except for water!

I suppose that a slight degree of usefulness might be attained if a bit of common sense is applied by the reader/listener, ie by assuming that the writer/speaker really means ‘very’ or ‘extra’ flavourful/tasty. But then why bother with ‘sapid’ at all? Why not just say ‘very/extra tasty/flavourful’ and make life easier for your readers/listeners, who are after all reading/listening to you with a view to learning something about wine! But then again, maybe they would enjoy learning a new word? Or are happy to be introduced to the secret and occult world of wine-tasting? Or would they hate wine forever on account of the arcane vocabulary used?

Well, whatever. Anyway, I feel a lot better, now that I’ve got that off my chest.  J
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