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Friday, August 26, 2016

The Secret is Out: Mallorca Island Wines

         Party-central villa on far right.... on the sea

I’m at a magnificent villa right on the sea in Mallorca with family and friends celebrating a hallmark birthday of my husband.   Located just off the coast of Barcelona, Mallorca often conjures up ideas of a playground for Russian oligarchs with bazillion Euro yachts, or movie stars (Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas are among the numerous Hollywood folks who’ve bought secluded villas here).   The island of Mallorca, however, is glamorous for an entirely different reason---its wine.  Like Santorini and Corsica, there’s something sexy about the idea of vines surrounded by water, cut off from the rest of the world.  Until now.

                           Palma's airport is one of the busiest in the Mediterranedan

Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean and boasts a rich history including the Romans, Vandals, and Moors.  It was the Romans who brought their vines and wine-making skills 100 years before the birth of Christ.  Under years of Arab rule (when alcohol was forbidden), wine-making continued on Mallorca.  In fact, in the 13th century Mallorcan wines were of such quality that they appeared on the table of both of the courts of Aragon and Castille.  Wines flourished on Mallorca until the late 19th century when, like the rest of Europe, vineyards were destroyed by the phylloxera bug.

                        E.U. funds changed the landscape of Mallorca's wine business

It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the wine industry on Mallorca made a come-back.  Spain joined the E.U. and with it came funds for improving the island’s economy.  Local winemakers decided to invest in their businesses with improvement efforts to improve the quality of their wines.  This included planting of more popular international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot.  It also included nurturing the island’s native varietals, as well as investment in stainless steel tanks, French oak barrels, and consulting winemakers from the mainland of Europe. 

Their efforts have certainly paid off.  Mallorca now produces some excellent wines, including white, rose, red and sparkling.   The wines are still relatively unknown in Europe (Mallorca receives an extraordinary 15 million thirsty visitors annually, thus only 15% of the island’s wine makes it off the island).  Nonetheless, Mallorcan wines are what every wine-lover dreams about:  indigenous grapes you’ve never heard of (that aren’t grown anywhere else), moderate alcohol levels, white wines made from red grapes, minerality and fruit.

                                This beach was just a few minutes walk from the villa

Mallorca is producing some amazing quality-price ratio wines.  The best producers are blending traditional grapes (such as medium-bodied cherry-like Manto Negro and low-in-tannin Callet) with international varietals.  Here’s a summary (no particular order---all are noteworthy) of the wines we’ve be drunk, each one carefully chosen as one of the island’s best.  If you can find them, buy them!

  • ·        Bodega Biniagual Gran Veran
  • ·        Miguel Oliver Xperiment
  • ·        Miguel Oliver Aia
  • ·        Miguel Oliver Ses Ferritges
  • ·        4 Kilos 12 Volts
  • ·        4 Kilos
  • ·        Binigrau B
  • ·        Binigrau Chardonnay


Viva Espana!  Viva Mallorca!  Viva Birthdays!



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