Miquel Gelabert Winery Visit

“Artisanal techniques and ingenuity create a spectrum for the palate.”

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(+34) 971 821 444
Manacor, Mallorca, Spain

Miquel Galabert Location

Open sesame – hidden away on a tiny residential street of Manacor, an anonymous door opened, and suddenly we are in a miniature but full-production bodega: Vins Miquel Gelabert. The family story goes that in 1984 Miquel cooked in his own restaurant in Manacor. His father owned land, and they were selling grapes to other wineries for so little money that they decided to try their own hand at wine making. At first, Miquel sold the bottles at his restaurant, but soon the demand was high enough to change careers and create Vins Miquel Gelabert. Today, though still small-scale and family run, Miquel and his team work with more than 30 varieties of grapes, creating blends unparalleled on the island. He is a champion of the local varietals! For the record, Manacor, and Miquel Gelabert wines, are in the Denominació D’Origen of Pla i Llevant, on the southern plains of Mallorca.

Miquel Gelabert Person

For a small island, we drove a long way to get to the old and almost industrial city of Manacor. That day we were searching for the two family-run wineries of brothers Toni and Miquel Gelabert [note that Miquel is spelled with a q, not a g, which is the Mallorcan spelling and pronunciation]. They had both been recommended previously by a favorite winery when we confessed our self-education project, and we were anxious to taste their work and see their bodegas.

Miquel Galabert_7-13-15_#10

We GPS mapped Vins Miquel Gelabert first, and somehow ended up on some tiny street in a small residential area, so of course we were sure our GPS was wrong. But no, looking closer we found telltale stucco grapes over a wide entrance, and when daughter Maria opened the door she revealed the remarkable antique urban bodega within! Built in 1909, it was originally designed as a winery on the rural outskirts of town, and now lies hidden in its center. We only know it was owned by someone else and was purchased by Miquel in the mid 1980s, when he began to make his own wines in earnest.

Miquel Galabert fermenting tanks

Stepping into the entry, two tall stainless tanks towered to our right and Maria told us that the wine in both was already sold in advance. The small room was wallpapered in a patchwork of awards. Maria told us that 50% of their wines are for Mallorca, and 50% for export to Europe.

Miquel Galabert Awards

She led us down a long and steep spiral staircase to the small room where their wine ages in barrels and bottles. Apparently without exception, all Miquel Gelabert reds are aged 12 months in barrel. She told us that though almost all Mallorcan wineries stick to the Spanish rule of Crianza being 6 months in barrel, in fact in the Mallorca D.O.s there is no specific time or system – it can be months in oak barrel or stainless steel. That’s important if you expect an oaky flavor when you buy your Crianza, and then don’t get it!

Bottles Miquel Gelabert

She led us into the old concrete fermenting tanks, repurposed now as cool storage areas for bottles that are gaining their age, and told us that Vins Miquel Gelabert has three locations right now: Their country vineyard with 9 hectares planted, their small city processing bodega with tasting room, and their distribution hub where the 50,000 bottles are picked up annually for distribution. They make over 25 different labels/types/blends of wine, which is truly astonishing for such a tiny family operation, for ANY operation!

Miquel Galabert bodega

Maria told us her brother is just finishing his Enology degree on the mainland, and will be “training in residence” in New Zealand before coming back and working with their father. Maria was in training as well, but for now she is back home and focusing on family priorities. Mother stopped by briefly, and cheerfully helped us make a reservation at Toni Gelabert’s winery.  A family affair!

Miquel Galabert momma

We were told that Miquel Gelabert works mostly at the vineyard, and when the grapes are crushed and the young wines are ready for aging, they transfer it all to portable stainless tanks, and bring it in multiple trips in their personal vehicles to this urban Bodega; exhausting, but a system in place and wistful intentions of consolidating at some point. At Vins Miquel Gelabert, they hand pick all their grapes for the different quality blends; and also because some, like the Callet grape, mature unevenly and must be gone over by hand.

Vins Miquel Galabert

Next we headed to the room where they bottle, label, cork, and seal. All the machines are very small and partly manual. Maria showed us how they work and explained that as recently as two years ago they didn’t even have these machines, and did it all by hand, down to each individual label adhered with a paintbrush and glue! Artisan industry through-and-through!

Miquel Galabert bottle machine

Another vintner had fondly described Miquel as a mad scientist mixing so many blends. Nice to imagine him that way, but we saw him as the cook working on recipes, exploring the local grapes, and thinking outside the box to great effect. All very labor intensive and commendable, and luckily he enjoys the freedom to experiment without any restrictions on grape percentage requirements by D.O. Pla I Llevant (a luxury his D.O. Binissalem counterparts do not enjoy).

Vins Miquel Gelebert tasting room

Helping make sense of the plethora, Maria told us that the wines all fall into three lines as follows:

  • CAULES – everyday table wines
  • GOLÓS – medium range quality
  • SELECCION PRIVADO – top quality

and then a few Special Releases…

Miquel Galabert artistic labels

For a long time Vins Miquel Gelabert used artists to create different labels every year… (part of his mad scientist thing?)… but recently they have decided to try for bottle/brand recognition and have picked a few labels to stick with! This is another winery combing art and wine  – We are beginning to see a trend!

Finally Maria led us to the small and much awaited tasting room – and suddenly the array of wines astounded us further! Here their wines are all displayed with prices, organized across shelves spanning from white to red. Maria asked us where we would like to begin, so headily we started with the whites as we have learned to do; and goodness, are they good! She explained that their Chardonnay is unique because they have this Northern varietal in a special valley where the grapes get less sun in order to allow them to mature closer to their natural habitat. Otherwise, in Mallorca the land of sun, they often burn. Maria was very generous with her time, kind, since we had not made any reservation or given forewarning other than that last minute call of “Um… we are looking for your bodega… and we think we are on the right street, but…” She gave us a glorious tasting – please see our Vins Miquel Gelabert Tasting Notes.

Vins Miquel Galabert Manacor

Before we knew it, it was lunchtime and we had earned a good meal! Maria gave us a recommendation for cafe in the town (we wished it was at Miquel’s long-gone restaurant!) and we popped back onto the street to meet the grape-friendly sun with smiles on our face!

Directions:Miquel Gelebert Winery Map
Hidden in the city of Manacor…I hope these directins help. Coming from the highway Palma-Manacor when you enter to the town of Manacor at the first round about- continue on the highway that takes you on a loop road around the town, a left or three-quarter turn. On the following round about head into town and pass the hospital, this is a right or one-quarter turn. Go straight through the following round about and at the next, with the road, Passeig del Ferrocarril, go left or three-quarter turn. It is a street with a meridian in the middle. From here you have to keep your eye out for the little sign on the right hand side and/or the street name: Carrer de la Veroninca. It is a one way street. Then it is your fourth street on the right- also a one way street. Carrer d’en Salas. It is difficult and the outside of the building is very discrete, but it is worth the hunt to find it.

See Wines Tasted at Miquel Gelabert: Click Here

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Miquel Gelabert Wine Tasting

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Wines Tasted

◊   4 Whites   ◊

Golós Blanc 2013
Vinya Son Caules Blanc 2013
Sa Vall 2011
Chardonnay Roure 2013

◊   4 Reds   ◊

Autonom 2011
Torrent Negre 2009
Seleccio Privada
Gran Vinya Son Caules

Miquel Gelebert Wines

Going to a wine tasting at Vins Miquel Gelabert is a memorable experience! There is no shortage of wines to choose from!  Miquel has 10 vineyards on the island and produces wine from 30 different grapes. This is no small feat for a family run business and is why there are a variety of wines and lines to choose from! They take the time to share with you their knowledge and make you feel at home. Every wine we tasted here was full of life and passion – exquisite!

Golós Blanc 2013
Grapes: Riesling
Giró blanc

Golos Miquel Galabert

Tawnee: Golós is a wonderful fresh and crisp wine! ‘Golós’ means someone that tries something, and wants more; gluttonous. It is a unique white in that it is a mix of young wine and wine that has been fermented, around 40% of the grapes (Reisling and Moscatel) have been French oak for around six months. It would be excellent on a warm summer day by itself or paired with a fresh chilled salad or white fish. Delicious.

Merie: First we tried the lovely Golós 2013. It is 30% Crianza with Viognier and Giró Blanc grapes 4-6 months in oak barrel, blended with 70% Muscatel, Riesling, which did not go to oak barrel — so it still a young wine. It is a fresh, bright wine with just a hint of oak. The name Golós comes from the word “Goloso” meaning someone who loves to eat and drink, someone who “wants more,” understandably!

Vinya Son Caules Blanc 2013
Grapes: Macabeo
Prensal Blanc

Vinyes Son Caules Blanc Wine

Tawnee: The beautiful straw color is what I first noticed about this wine. It is a semi-crianza in the sense that it is only in French oak barrels for 3 months. This is different to begin with, white in oak and for such a short time. It adds complexity to the wine and I like it. It would be perfect to combine with any vegetarian dish as it is light, but won’t get lost in contrast to the vegetables.

Merie:  These three local grapes blend to make a truly unique white wine.  They are subtle, combine well, and the oak is used carefully to complement.  The color is mouthwatering on a hot day, as are the fresh white-fruit and nectar aromas (I’m trying!)  It is nicely dry but the fruity quality still shines.  I would like to take a bottle to an artisan cheese maker’s tasting!

Sa Vall 2011
Grapes: Giró Blanc

Miguel Gelabert Sa Vall

Tawnee: Sa Vall means the valley. It is a mix of two grapes that have been both fermented in new French oak for six months. The result is a very distinct white. I am not accustomed to drinking white wines that have gone to oak, but I like it. It is a white with structure and body. I think it would be excellent beside a grilled fish and veggies!

Merie: Next we tried the Sa Vall 2011: It is a White Crianza, 6 months in high-grade French oak and at least 6 months in bottle (3 years in our case!). The Giró Blanc and Viognier grapes are hand selected for this well-balanced blend.

Chardonnay Roure 2013
Grapes:  Chardonnay 100%

Miquel Galabert Chardonnay

Tawnee: I am not a fan of Chardonnay. I am trying to find it’s place in my palate, but I have not quite found it. I did enjoy this one. Perhaps the fact that it was 6 months in new French oak. It is a beautiful combination a French grape with French oak. It has around 14% alcohol. It is a very noble wine, golden in color and strong in the mouth with a dry finish. A good accompaniment to chicken or rabbit with gravy.

Merie: Maria poured the Chardonnay Roure 2013 next. It is a 100% Chardonnay Crianza, spending 6-10 months in top quality French oak. The grapes are selected very carefully by hand. It is smooth and crisp, with a dry finish. The grapes are purposefully grown in a small valley where there is less sun and they don’t over-sugar or burn. Many northern grapes are used to less sun, and they can over-mature in the sunny Mallorcan plain. Since aromas are in the skin, the Gelaberts are very careful with this. With less sun, the taste and aroma of this white are more in the French style Maria tells us.

Autonom 2011
Grapes: Callet 50%
Manto Negro 20%
Fogoneu 15% (old vines)
Gorgollassa 15%

Miquel Galabert Autonom wine

Tawnee: This is a special wine because it started out as a joint production between two bodegas- Bodega Ribas and Vins Miquel Gelebert. The name is Autonom, which is short autonomo, which means authentic to the place it is from, so Mallorcan grapes only. This is a delightful idea to combine two Mallorcan wineries, using only Mallorcan grapes to create a truly Mallorcan special wine. Recently, Miquel Gelebert has decided to take on full production of the wine. A dominant wine with notes of red ripe berries and wild herbs. I think it would be great with Mallorcan caracoles (snails) or stew.

Merie: Next we tasted the Autócton, which was designed in tandem with Bodegues Ribas in 2011. It is a very savory, smooth, Crianza red made with only native grape varieties including Callet, Manto Negro, Fogoneu, Gorgollassa, and Giró Negro grapes, and all from old vines! The grapes were mixed and then fermented together. If you can find a bottle of this it is well worth drinking. The Ribas Winery is in a different D.O. and their Distributer is different, so after collaborating, apparently big Ribas “gave” it to Miquel Gelabert for distribution.  What a partnership!

Torrent Negre 2009
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon

Miquel Galabert Torrent Negre wine

Tawnee: This is a common coupage that we are tasting, but I just love how every winery does it different. Miquel Gelebert has decided to age it in French oak and New American oak so there are notes of vanilla, smokiness and spice. It is a solid full body red. Like the name says- Torrent Negre- the Red River – it is a beautiful river that floods your mouth. I like it!

Merie: Maria then poured Torent Negre, 2009. This wine was aged 12 months in new French and American oak barrels, followed by further aging in the bottle.  Maria called it “elegante y redondo.” I was comparing this complex bottle to the Autònom, tasting back and forth trying to get different words to describe them, seeing which I liked best. Maria smiled and said  “Son buenos los dos, y ya esta.” – Get your Spanish dictionary out, you might as well learn some vocabulary too – “They are both good, and that’s that.”

Seleccio Privada
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon 100%

Miquel Galabert Seleccio Privada

Tawnee: This is a specialty wine that they only produce when there are good enough grapes to make it, and only from the best vines in the vineyard. Hence, the quantity of bottles produced is low. A rare gem – they have named it at the bodega amongst themselves – the wine makers’ ‘capricho’,  the closest translation I can think of being ‘toy’….in the sense of a Ferrari is your toy. We tried it because we love strong, full deep bodied wines and this did not disappoint. Devine.

Merie:  I love a good Cabernet and this 100% was a pleasure.  Knowing these grapes were individually hand picked and then hand selected for this Selecció Privada lends to the joyful experience.  Vins Miquel Gelabert are good at creating a full bodied dry red, where the fruit notes are strong but no residual sugars thicken the flavor.  Give me this wine, dark chocolate, and some dry Spanish cheese and send me home!

Gran Vinya Son Caules

Grapes: Callet 90%
Manto Negro 10%
and other varietals

Miquel Galabert Gran Vinyes Son Caules Wine

Tawnee: This wine comes from the oldest grape vines of this bodega – more than 50 years old (the Vinyes Velles). This is a wonderful wine with the local grapes, Callet and Manto Negro. The aromas are of ripe berries and with the mix of French, American and Hungarian oak creates a wonderful blend of spices and chocolate. An elegant coupage.

Merie: Our last taste was Gran Vinya Son Caules, made from a hand picked selection of grapes from the oldest vines. It is 90% Callet grape, the rest is usually Manto Negro and Fogoneu, depending on the year. The other varieties help with color, as apparently Callet oxidizes easily.  Oxidation changes a wine’s hue and taste…as a wine ages it is oxidizing so winemakers keep track of this as they perfect their product.  (Remember the purposefully oxidized wine at Cellar Ca’n Pico?)  Maria said this is her father’s favorite.  It’s the one he is presenting to show that Callet is a good grape, but standing alone it would perhaps not appeal 100% in color and aroma, and that would hurt sales. She said (and I translate and thus paraphrase) “Blends let you create the wine you want, the look, the scent, and the flavor. 100% of one grape can be no more than what that grape can offer.”

Vins Miquel Galabert Maria

Thank you Maria!

See Miquel Gelabert Visit: Click Here

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