New Wines from Mallorca
Mallorca is much more known for its beaches than its wines. Like so many regions with a strong tourism industry, the vast majority of the wines are consumed locally by holiday-makers. With a captive and reliable clientele, there is very little incentive to focus on quality or take risks. Still, luckily a few producers are bucking the trend and making exciting wine.
And good thing, because Mallorca has a lot to offer: a Mediterranean climate perfect for viticulture, a diversity of terroirs, and most importantly, a host of indigenous grapes grown nowhere else. Callet, mantonegro, prensal, fogoneu, and ull de llebre are just a few of the historical grapes still harvested on the island. The vogue of international varieties did not pass Mallorca by either, so grapes such as chardonnay, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon are also widely planted. However, most quality producers eschew or de-emphasize these. Indeed, local grapes are far better adapted to the local climate, and in particular, its hot, dry summers, in which other grapes can easily over-ripen or suffer from lack of moisture.
The groundbreaking Mesquida Mora winery in Mallorca was established by Bàrbara Mesquida Mora in 2012 near the town of Porreres, producing wines in the DO Plà i Llevant and VdlT Mallorca designations in the southern and eastern areas of the island. After leaving behind the winery created by her great-grandfather in 1945 in Porreres, Bàrbara started on her project from scratch with vineyards inherited from her mother. She is among the vanguard of young producers recuperating the unique cultural and viticultural matrix of traditional Mallorcan agriculture. Her vineyards are certified by the Balearic Ecological Agriculture Council and Demeter for organic and biodynamic viticulture.
In addition to championing native varieties such as prensal, callet, mantonegro, giró ros, and gorgollasa, Bàrbara has kept some of the international varieties by her father, including old vines syrah, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and chardonnay. Together they draw a varietal mosaic and are the first examples of foreign varieties planted in Mallorca, which live alongside the island’s autochthonous varieties quite harmoniously. This vineyard, called Son Porquer, is one of the most beautiful on the island, featuring an old mill standing sentinel among the vines. Bàrbara is passionate about preserving this vineyard’s history, as it is an essential piece of the history of Mallorca. All wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts and SO2 levels are kept to the bare minimum during production and not added at bottling. From her stewardship of old vineyards in Mallorca, to her striking label designs and the names of each wine; the intention and energy of her project are powerful and clear.
‘SINCRONIA BLANCA’ $24 / 750 ml
Sincronia Blanc radiates the light and spirit of the island of Mallorca. The wine is composed of prensal blanc, chardonnay, and giró ros varieties. Each variety is hand-harvested and fermented separately. Prensal blanc, the native varietal of Mallorca, spends very few days with skin contact to preserve its delicate components. After blending, Sincronia Blanc rests for four months in stainless steel on the lees. All wines are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and sulfur levels are kept to the bare minimum during production and not added at bottling. Bright, aromatic and elegantly textured, Sincronia Blanc remains both fresh and substantive at the same time, a testament to the incredible provenance of the vines and the expert handling of the winemaker.
‘SINCRONIA NEGRE’ $24 / 750 ml
Sincronia Negre is a blend of hand-harvested manto negro, callet, syrah, and merlot. Each of the varietals undergoes separate fermentations in stainless steel before blending and resting for six months in small two and three-year-old oak barrels. Sincronia Negre combines both freshness and power, with Mediterranean garrigue aromatics and a core of mouth-watering fruit destined to pair incredibly well with any food. This is the wine you want at any table and a great introduction to the soul of Mallorca.
Tomeu Llabrés is part of a rebirth on Mallorca with the new generation of winemakers, farmers, and chefs who are diligently cataloging, recuperating, replanting, and exalting the thousands of years of history pre-dating the boon of modern tourism. His self-described viticultura en miniatura, and his visionary work with the indigenous mantonegro grape at his micro-winery, Ca’n Verdura Viticultores, which he founded in a former auto garage in 2012 in the Binissalem denomination, located in the north-central portion of Mallorca. Through a steadfast focus on the mantonegro grape, Tomeu has demonstrated this ancient variety has incredible potential, creating some of the most ground-breaking wines of the Balearic region. In recent tastings, the mantonegro grape has drawn flavor comparisons to another island grape native to Italy, the nerello mascalese. Placing indigenous grapes in context can be tricky. Still, there certainly seems to be a similar renaissance of native varieties in Mallorca, and one can draw comparisons to those occurring in Sicily.
Following this tradition, Ca’n Verdura focuses on old-vine vineyards planted in the traditional en vaso (or goblet) vine training system, with reliance on the indigenous mantonegro and callet for red wines and moll (prensal blanc) for the white wines of Binissalem. Like other small projects on the island, international varieties are relied upon in small quantities for practical reasons in entry-level blends. Still, the future of plantings is clearly indigenous varieties. The soil of Binissalem is cal vermell, red clay soil with limestone, and small to medium-sized gallets.
Every parcel is hand-picked and fermented separately, then blended later. Only indigenous yeasts are used, and his vineyards are worked without the use of chemical treatments. A key to practicing this type of agriculture is the Levante winds, which blow across Mallorca from northeast to southwest off the island of Minorca, cooling and aerating the vineyards, which are almost always windy. Making Ca’n Verdura in an old garage in the center of the ancient Binissalem village, Tomeu has created a very nuanced, playful, cutting-edge project. Quick to crack a joke and with the English, he learned from Tony Soprano and a pop-culture sensibility which leans towards David Bowie, Tomeu is the rebel we needed from an island where it is easy just to fit in and tune out.
‘SUPERNOVA NEGRE’ $35 / 750 ml
The flagship Supernova red is selected from his best plots of old-vine mantonegro grapes. Mantonegro is selected from bush-trained vineyards from the five villages of Binissalem, with a focus on the village of Santa Maria, in particular, which are considered the finest vineyards in the area. An honest and natural expression of the indigenous mantonegro grape and Binissalem terroir. Production is necessarily very limited, as every bottle in this garage winery is sold each vintage.
Vinification Aged for 10 months in 500L French barrels and 2000-3000L foudres.
Always 10% off any 6 bottles of wine, 15% off any 12.