Miquel Gelabert Winery Visit

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

miquel gelebert logo
(+34) 971 821 444
www.vinsmiquelgelabert.com
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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Es Verger Winery Visit

“Hidden away in a mountain valley, this precious jewel is worth every second spent searching for it.”

Es Verger Logo
http://www.esverger.es
Esporles, Mallorca Spain

The award winning Es Verger is a small, privately owned and run boutique winery. They have 7 hectares of vineyards on this magical mountain property, and all production is done on site.  Originally planted in 1995, the first wines went to market in 2001. They produce approximately 15,000 bottles per year; their wine is certified organic, and sold primarily to an international market and fine local restaurants. They produce 3 reds, a rosé, and a very special sweet white.

Bodega Es Verger Vineyard

So, after we left Celler Son Vives, we called Es Verger to see if they were open, since we had to drive through Esporles anyway to get out of the mountains. Friday night – 5:30 – what are the chances? A man answers the phone “Sure, come on over… I’m here.” And we are off to the next Winery!

Es Verger is situated way up in the Tramuntana hills above Esporles, accessed only by a small, beautiful, and winding road with hidden or invisible street signs. After a few more phone calls – in Spanish of course – we get directions by landmark: “In direction Palma, third right after the plaza, climb, wind, until the big tree in the middle of the road… then…” Unsure if we were on the right road the entire time… looking at the clock and thinking perhaps we don’t have time for this… and then, 4.5km winding through the mountain… there he is – the man on the other end of the phone – waving us down to stop at his gorgeous stone walled vineyard.  It felt like we were in a summer dream…

Bodega Es Verger bodega

Miguel, the owner and vintner, welcomed us onto his property through his stone pillared gate. Lean, tan, white haired and wearing shorts and a loose, pressed white cotton shirt, he walked us past his beautiful vine covered home amidst gentle sounds of young voices and tapping earthen kitchenware, and to the adjoining Bodega. Inside, the cool air greeted us, and the now familiar steel fermenting tanks lined one wall as we passed through to the tasting area. The first thing we notice were all the awards and certificates that are proudly, yet discretely, framed on the wall. For some strange reason, this did not mean anything to us, and we had no expectations before the tasting. Surrounded by maturing bottles, and speaking to us only in Spanish, Miguel brought out 5 bottles of wine, two glasses, and an elegant small bottle of light virgin olive oil.

Bodega Es Verger tasting

Pouring the first taste, Miguel starts telling us about his wine and how he makes it. He started the vineyard out of passion and interest, and only wants to make good wine. Producing around 15,000 bottles per year, they are mostly exported, or sold in high-class restaurants on the island and to private clients. After the first taste we love it! It is clear that this is his passion and that he makes the wine that he wants to drink. While we tasted, his daughters appeared, earnest and beaming, bringing rock salt and sliced rustic bread to frame the home pressed oil that is also for sale. The oil was lovely, light and delicate, a very welcome addition to the tasting and delicious! We tried four of the five bottles of wine; the only one we didn’t try is the Pinot Noir, because of demand it has sold out.

Bodega Es Verger Bottles

Please see our tasting notes for more detail on the wines.

Trying to let Miguel get back to his family, we asked him to show us his vineyards on the way back to our car. We walked along the stunningly healthy vines planted carefully in their lines, all certified and organically tended. Miguel explained that they plant their rows farther apart than standard because of the mountainous terrain, and the sun and air between the rows largely prevents disease. He told us more sun produces thicker skin, thus more flavor and tannins, becoming full bodied in fermentation.  Tannins are textural, and the perfect astringency in the mouth seems to make a wine ‘taste dry.’   8-10 days steeping with the skins creates the flavor; the ripe inside fruit providing the water and sugar for successful fermentation.

All Es Verger wines are produced thoughtfully, with high personal standards, and are ecologically tended and certified organic = subject to the strict regulations of the Island Council’s CBPAE body (Consell Balear Regulador de l’Agricultura Ecològica).  These delicious wines deserve the recognition received, and our tasting visit was characteristic of the quality at Es Verger … a summer dream come true!

Open Sesame
Through the rabbit hole
Finding passion, friendship
A desire for perfection
A jewel of Mallorca

Es Verger MapHow to get there: When you come from Palma to Esporles, you will see a sign for Es Verger on the left. Take that turn and follow the road for 4.5km. It is a long winding road out of town. Keep driving until you get to a tree in the middle of the road. At this fork take the left where it says Es Verger.

See Wines Tasted at Es Verger: Click here

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Celler Son Vives Visit

“Millionaire views paired with artisanal winemaking techniques”

Son Vives logo 1
Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Spain
www.sonvives.com
[Website in Castilian and Catalan only]

Featuring the rare native Malvasia grape, beautiful Celler Son Vives opened in 2003, and Mallorcan proprietor Toni Darder Alorda answers the phone himself, in Spanish – because as of this writing the main number for this Tasting Room is his cell phone!  A small winery, Son Vives produces approximately 15,000. bottles each year, with four labels. They distribute mostly to restaurants on the island, and to select retail stores in the lovely capital city of Palma. The location and views at Son Vives are stunning, and the coastal climate ideal for the rare Malvasia grape which is the signature of all Banyalbufar wineries, and their reason for existing in this unique spot.

Bodega Son Vives

Mariona was just locking the gate when we pulled up at 5:00, and although she had a fair drive home to Palma, she readily agreed to reopen the tasting room for us. We walked together along a broad terrace amidst olive trees, lavender bunches, and amazing views of the terraced coast and azure sea, to a small outside counter-style tasting bar where Mariona poured from inside the shady Bodega. Tasting room ambiance just doesn’t get better than this!

Bodega Son Vives_7-3-15_#5

We tried 1 mono variety, 100% Malvasia of course, and 2 blends. Sadly, we were not able to tour the bodega production area because of how late we were. However, the tasting bar is on a lovely veranda, which overlooks the Mediterranean, and the views are exquisitely beautiful! In fact, it overlooks the gorgeous Celler Ca’n Pico estate, and if we didn’t know better, we would have thought those vines belonged to Son Vives. As Mariona poured, we noticed a menu on the wall showing that they can make Pa amb Oli here (bread & olive oil with sliced meats or cheeses) to pair with their wines. We’d highly recommend that, but book in advance. Or bring your own tasting-complementary picnic for the bottle you’ll want to buy here after tasting! The tasting area is right off the ‘main’ road, but you feel like a millionaire enjoying these wines with a view.  Combining a lunchtime tasting here on the veranda with an afternoon tasting at Ca’n Pico would make for a great day!

Banyalbufar View

As we sipped their three tasting wines, we learned their property always had vineyards which were for family consumption. In 2003 the family transitioned to commercial production without losing the artisanal techniques, including hand picking the maturing Malvasia grapes.

Celler Son Vives is part of the Island group Vi de la Terra Serra de Tramuntana which is comprised of 18 municipalities in the protected UNESCO World Heritage Serra de Tramuntana, reaching from Cap de Formentor to Andratx.  It is characterized by the famous stone “bancales” which are agricultural terraces mostly made during the Moorish occupation which lasted approximately 500 years from the 700s to 1200s AD. Built of local stone and rich soil, the terraces prevent soil erosion and allow the Malvasia vine roots to grow deep in well draining guarded soil. The North-facing coast offers maximum sun time with cooler temperatures, but it is more difficult to pick and creates differing ripening times – therefore requiring a lot of individual care!

Bodega Son Vives bottles

While Celler Son Vives grows their Malvasia in this vineyard, they also make two blends, a white and a red, and those grapes are brought here for production from the hotter and dryer central island plain. Please see the tasting notes for more details on that!

Doors closing
Hearts opening
Bottles cracked
Lips smacked
Gorgeous

Mariona was very knowledge about the wines, and we would have enjoyed touring the production areas and asking her more questions about their history and blends. However, we were very pleased with the kindness she showed us so late on a Friday evening!

We will have to return again and taste and tour with more time!

BanyalbufarMain Street, Banyalbufar

How to get there:Son Vives Map
As you leave Banyalbufar heading West in direction Estellencs you will see a sign for a parking lot on the right. You can park there and walk up or continue driving 10m and will see the sign of Son Vives from the road with 3 or 4 parking spaces out front. Very easy to find.

See Wines Tasted at Son Vives: Click here

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