Wine in the Balearics
by Siobhan Gibson
The Balearic Islands’ wine production has grown in both size and reputation in recent years, with a huge revival underway, and some great wines coming out of the region. Old-fashioned wine-making techniques are still the standard across the islands, and the result is slowly beginning to match some of the finest in the Old World. You’ll see three region-specific grape varieties grown in the Balearic Islands; the Prensal Blanc, a fresh, herbal white with hints of white fruits, watermelon and lychees; Callet, a spicy, fruity red variety often used to make rose wines, and Manto Negro, arguably the region’s finest variety, producing some outstanding medium-bodied red wines packed with a rich, deep fruit flavour. The booming industry means wine-lovers can find some truly outstanding hidden gems.
Wineries & vineyard tours
There are a number of wineries across the islands, most prominently in Majorca. Wine tours not only offer a chance to see the production process, but promise spectacular views of the islands’ countryside, as acres of vineyard spread over the rolling hills and valleys, overlooking the beautiful coastline. On a holiday to Majorca, one of the best tours is the Mallorca Wine Express, a tourist train which takes you from Santa Maria through 8 different wineries, vineyards and cellars of the beautiful Es Raugier area, stopping in several vineyards along the way. Expect outdoor tastings of some of the island’s most delicious wines, and a fascinating look at Majorca’s oldest winery.
Private winery tours are also an excellent way of getting a close-up look at the operations, especially on the smaller islands, where you can get chatting to the winemakers and taste the different blends on offer. Surrounded by mountains and vast stretches of vineyards, Totem Wines produce lively and distinctive wines, and offer one of the best winery tours by appointment in Ibiza. In Menorca, the Vine Sa Cudia enterprise offer tours and tastings in the heart of the S’Albufera des Grau National Park, while the Viñas Binifadet has fantastic cellars to be explored, and produces wonderful, traditional-style wines. Another fantastic option for a winery tour is the small but perfectly-formed Formentera island, where you can see the stunning scenery and landscape while enjoying the luxury of guided tastings in the quiet of the countryside. There are just two wineries on the island, Cap de Barbaria and Terramoll, and while they are still small, they have proved a unique attraction for connoisseurs, and dedicated wine-lovers would do well to visit the region.
Try the Balearic wines
With such a growing reputation, the wine industry in the Balearic Islands has taken off in the last decade or two, and you can now seek out a number of restaurants offering a huge selection of local fine wines.
Travellers taking the Mallorca Wine Express should check out the Convent d’es Marquès in Santa Maria, which offers a complete list of wines from the Santa Maria area, as well as fantastic Mediterranean dishes and a taste of real Majorca. In Palma, the luxurious Refectori Restaurant can’t be recommended highly enough – set inside a converted convent, top chef Tolo Trias serves up some of Palma’s finest cuisine and one of the biggest wine cellars on the island; perfect for that special night out!
Make sure you don’t miss the annual Pollensa Wine Festival in Majorca, the very best wine event in the Balearic islands, hosting over 35 different wineries from across the 4 islands and offering the chance to taste fantastic wines, stock up, chat to producers, and celebrate the industry. It’s a fantastic opportunity to try something unique and inspiring, and meet people genuinely excited about their product, and takes place in late April ever year.
Top Balearic Island Wines
• Bodegas Macia Batle DO Binissalem Blanc de Blancs 2009 – Made primarily with the regional Prensal Blanc, this fruity white promises tropical and citrus flavours, ideal with Mediterranean salads and fish.
• 2005 Cap de Barbaria Vi de la Terra de Formentera – A red wine bursting with black cherry and olive flavours, soft tannins and excellent lasting structure. A classic example of Formentera wine.
• Miquel Gelabert Golos 2006 Rotwein – The most awarded winery in the Balearics, the Miquel Gelabert winery is known for producing spectacular wines. This red, made purely with local varieties, boasts amazing herbal aromas and a rich flavour of violets and balsamic. It was awarded several gold medals at the TerraVino International Competition.
About the author: Siobhan Gibson studied and worked in the wine industry before becoming a full-time writer, and now blogs about food, wine, travel and games.