Alfonso Ochoa Vega
All about Mallorcan wine & bodegas
The Mallorcan gastronomy is an important element in our Mills & Honey trips. And one of the most important elements within that gastronomy is wine (obviously). We love wine, and we love our local wines. The island has over 70 bodegas, more than 1500 hectares of protected and official vineyards, and over 30 types of autochthonous grapes.
The first references to winemaking on the island date back from Talayotic times, with the invasions of the Greek, Phoenicians, and Romans. The industry prospered after the Reconquest in the 14th century, when the Christians took over Spain from the Muslims. In the mid 19th century, the Phylloxera plague killed most vines in Europe. Mallorca was safe for a period of around 20 years in which their wine export grew immensely. When the plague arrived at the island and destroyed most of its wines, the lands were replanted with almond trees and a small number of vines had to be reintroduced. It took a long time to recover its finesse and quality.
Later, around the 1990s, local winemakers started to invest in their bodegas to improve the local wine’s quality. Apart from the autochthonous grapes, more popular grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Viognier were introduced. Also the use of better equipment, irrigation systems, and French and American Oak barrels. Mallorcan wines started to gain popularity beside the famous Rioja and Ribera del Duero wines from the mainland.
In 2007 the quality standard was introduced, to Bodegas that grow, produce and bottle their wine on Mallorca. The two main areas for growing wine are around Binissalem in the center of the island and around Felanitx and Manacor in the central easter part. Some bodegas in these parts have the quality standard ‘Denominació d’Origen’ (similar to the French AOC designation). Other labels grouped outside of these ‘Denominació d’Origen’ are de ‘Vi de la Terra’ (wine of the land).
During our trip, you will most likely cycle through one or several of these main areas. It’s actually quite improbable that you won’t see any vineyards during your stay. In fact, if you like wine as much as we do, we highly recommend you to try some wine tasting at one of the following Bodegas that we’ve been working with for years. Either due to their history or ways of production, but surely their amazing wine quality.
Bodega Ribas is a reference in Mallorca for winemaking. It’s located in the town of Consell,
withing the Binissalem wine area. It’s the oldest winery on the island with a history of over three centuries old. You’d be amazed to see its stately home, original historic barrel cellar and
winemaking warehouse from the 18th century. They have some of the oldest vines on the island, over 60 years old, that they use still today for their best selection. They grow a combination of local and international (but island-proven) grape varieties. Their whites are Prensal Blanc, Voignier and Moscatel, and their reds Mantonegro, Gargollassa, Callet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. The Ribas family aim to continue their achievements and work in accordance with a lifestyle that above all respects the land, the history, and the legacy. You can either pop by for some wine tasting with Serrano ham and local cheeses at their wine-bar or we could arrange a pre-booked visit and complete lunch in the lovely estate’s patio. We love their Sió (red and white) and Ribas rosat (try it even though you’re not a Rosé fan). They are labeled as 'Vi de la Terra’ and among the top quality
from the island.
Bodega Mesquida Mora is the fourth generation of winemakers in the central town of Porreres and the result of Barbara separating from her father’s footsteps, who had been winemaking from 1945 and planted international varieties to be sold to the tourists who would flock to the island each summer. She took over in 2004, converted the vineyards to biodynamic cultivation, and began her first harvest in 2012. Today, the estate consists of 20 hectares of vineyards that range from 10 years to over 50 years old, over seven different plots, planted to a rich mosaic of soils, including limestone, and clay-rich in iron. In addition to native varieties such as Premsal, Callet, Manto Negro, and Gorgollasa, she kept some of those international varieties planted by their father, including old vines Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Barbara is considered a great success in the local winery scene. Her adventure to produce a series of wines that express the potential of a vine that is healthier, more alive, and more authentic. The carefully chosen names for wines have a profound meaning. She and her always cool flashy glasses can tell you all about it
over a local lunch within her vines by an old windmill… Our favorites? The Acrollam blanc (white) and Trispol (red). They are also labeled as ‘Vi de la Terra’ and among the top quality from the island.
Bodega Can Axartell is a very young but different Bodega that combines both the traditional and modern sides of wine-growing on the island. It’s located along one of the most quiet and beautiful roads to ride on the island near Pollensa, on a rural estate that has vineyards, olive groves, and forests. The abandoned Finca was rediscovered in the 1990s by the Schwarzkopf family (yes, from the cosmetics) that obtained the land, restored the old buildings, and recovered the estate’s first vineyards with certified organic practices. They created a new modern building, which is quite futuristic with a glass and steel facade and perfectly integrated into a stone quarry into a mountain. The entire winemaking infrastructure was designed and constructed to use the 'Mètode Gravetat' which calls for both grapes and wine to be moved solely using the forces of gravity. In Can Axartell they use only island-proven grape varieties such as Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Callet, Manto Negro, Giro, Premsal, Malvasia, and Muscatell. They’re working together with the University to try and recover some ancient local grape varieties. Their philosophy: respect for the grapes, the environment, the people who produce the wine, and those who enjoy it. The first modern Can Axartell vintage was bottled in 2013. Its organic wines have since earned acclaim on the island and far beyond as well. The faces on the labels are representative of the family’s members, as a tribute to their character. If you’d fancy to visit this beautiful piece of land, James Bond-style building and learn about this innovative gravity system, their wines are well worth it!