Vins Toni Gelabert Visit

“Following the moon’s cycles, superb organic wine from Manacor.”

Toni Gelabert Logo
www.vinstonigelabert.com
+34 971 55 24 09
Manacor, Mallorca, Spain

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Toni of Vins Toni Gelabert is a 1st generation winemaker. Registered with D.O. Pla i Llevant the Consell de la Producció Agrícola Ecològica de Balears, Vins Toni Gelabert produces 30,000 bottles per year from biodynamically and ecologically cultivated vines and grapes. In August 1996 he planted his first vines. In 1997 they built their bodega and processing facility according to Feng Shui. In 1979 they sold their first red, and in 1981 they sold their first white. They have seven hectares of grapes planted. The red varietals they grow are Manto Negro, Callet, Syrah, Prensal Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. Their white grapes are Chardonnay, Riesling, Viognier, and Macabeo (Macabeu in Mallorquin, and on the label) for their Cava. They are a progressive winery with a style of the traditional Mallorca we love!

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This was our second try at Tasting here, the first time was the same day as we went to Vins Miquel Gelabert = his brother’s winery (Please see our visit to Vins Miquel Gelabert!). That time Toni had to cancel for real life reasons, so this time he kindly allowed us to tag along with a group of six fun German women who were visiting Mallorca. They had booked in advance a €20 ‘cata de vins’ = wine tasting, of six different wines paired with Toni’s homemade Sopresada sausage on rustic Pan Moreno (brown bread) with Menorcan Cheese – we thought, why not?!

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Vins Toni Gelabert is a gem of a bodega because they follow the moon’s cycles. Biodynamics is a method of organic farming involving observation of lunar phases and planetary cycles which correspond to the plants cycles, and it is very time consuming. You have to be very observant and aware. During our visit we commented about how the summer has been extremely hot with very little rain. He pulled out his calendar and told us it didn’t rain in April, and that the last day it rained was May 24th — and we were in August! They plant the grapes at the correct time, prune and pick the grapes by the moon cycles. Their picking process is usually done somewhere around the 15th of August. This year they picked around the 25th because of the moon’s stage.

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Like a few other winemakers we’ve discovered, they choose or select the grapes right on the vines. They make as many as five passes to remove the less desirable grapes, until all that remain on the vine are good, which are then collected and used. The bottling schedule is also done in accord with the moon, and if it needs to be done on Sunday, then Sunday it is. Toni says it is more work, but from the heart. He told us he considers winemaking as an art like making music and cooking. He said he is all at this winery, and nothing. Not an Oenologist, he is self-taught through providence, study, love of wine, trial and error.

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This bodega has been carefully thought out all the way down to the orientation of the building. They called in experts from Palma who specialize in Feng Shui (A Chinese system of spatial arrangement and orientation regarding the flow of energy (qi), and whose effects are considered when siting and designing buildings and room or garden lay-out) and Dowsing (finding the water underground). After their recommendations, Toni built the house a little on an angle to the plot layout, in order to keep the light and flow of energy the best for their developing wines. However, like Toni says: When you follow the moon or Feng Shui, these are suggestions, but you make the final decision about what feels right. We’ll say that all the energy put into building and grape work can be found in the results of his wine: Delicious!!

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After harvesting his grapes, Toni ferments the majority of each different variety in it’s own unique tank, and the blending is done afterwards. There is a wine or two where he mixes the grapes and then ferments (which we finally learned is called co-fermentation, as opposed to blending where separate wines are blended into a cuvée, or batch, after fermentation). Toni makes about 15 different bottles of wine, but not all the bottles are made every year; if the grapes aren’t exactly what he wants that year, then he doesn’t make the corresponding wine. That is dedication.

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All the bottles have very different labels and names. At first, every year the label changed according to Toni’s choice of art or picture, which really spoke to that wine and that vintage; it was part of the labor of love. However, eventually Toni saw the marketing advantage in making a brand name. Now, there are two lines if you would: The Son Fangos, and the Torre des Canonge. He started experimenting making whites in 1981, and feels that his whites are the strong point of his bodega, however, we feel that all his wines are recommendable!

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We arrived and Toni gave our group a talk about the different grapes he grows, and where they are outside the bodega.  Then we were shown the fermenting tanks and explained how he ferments.  Next he took us down to the barrel room, which is somehow always our favorite! We got to see the barrels that he has brought in for this year’s harvest, and the beautiful quality of light and energy there.

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We were able to ask all the questions we wanted to, about Biodynamics and varietals, and then he took the group to a rustic kitchen for our tasting. We all sat down at his table, with an old barrel underneath, and Toni began to pour!  Please see our tasting notes for wines tasted at Vins Toni Gelabert.

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As we tasted, and our questions poured, Toni told us that all their red wines are kept one year in oak, and that the older the grape, the softer the tannins – a nice way to put it.  Their whites are only 4-5 months in oak. They only use old French oak barrels, often burnt on the inside for flavor which he called ‘tostado negro.’ They produce 5 whites, 1 rosé, and 7 reds. Every year the grapes are different, so his wines are different blends to get a finished product he thinks is worth selling. The wines are 80% consumed locally, and 20% for export. They used to sell by Internet, but it was too hard because of customs. Now they only sell through distributors. He also told us that they buy cork from Gerona and Asturias, Spain. And he explained about Batonage – done with a special wand – which is a circulation process that keeps the yeasts in suspension in all wines in oak, and keeps the healthy amino acids active.

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This was a different experience for us as we usually do the tour and tasting by ourselves… one-on-one with the owner, family, or trained employee. We thought it would be fun to try something different to join the tourist group, and it was enjoyable because our group was lively.  However we would have preferred to do our typical one-on-one with Toni because he was such a wealth of information!  The biggest drawback was that the lovely ladies we were with spoke mostly German, and we conversed in English; and Toni doesn’t speak either German or English… so he missed out on interacting with us more… That said, we felt we missed out on his interaction and information – and he was the star!

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A side note about the Gelabert brothers: although they have the same last name and some similar traits like experimentation and innovation, their winemaking histories traveled different paths. Toni’s vineyards come from his wife Maria’s family. It was her father’s land where the bodega is built, and where they have 90% of their vines. Whereas, Toni’s brother Miquel took over the vines of their father, who had always sold his grapes to other bodegas. Two brothers – two lovers of wine – two histories: two Must Stops on our beloved Mallorca Wine Trail!

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Directions:  Toni Gelabert Map
Driving from Manacor to Felanitx, at about 2km on the road you will see a pullout or park-like area, slow down. Immediately after that you will see a very narrow road on the right and a small yellow sign that reads Vins Toni Gelabert. Follow that sign through a few turns and you will see the bodega on the left. When you drive along the driveway you’ll have Chardonnay grapes on your right and the newly planted vines on your left. Beautiful!

See Wines Tasted at Vins Toni Gelabert: Click here

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Bodegas Miquel Oliver Visit

“4th generation winemaking brings contemporary standards to a fine tradition!”

Miquel Oliver logo
www.miqueloliver.com
+34 971 56 11 17
Petra, Mallorca, Spain

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Bodegas Miquel Oliver was founded in 1912 by Melchor Oliver, who began by planting his grapes after the Phylloxera blight.  In 2012, his grandson Miquel and great granddaughter Pilar celebrated their winery’s 100th anniversary in their beautiful old 1868 Petra facility.

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A member of D.O. Pla i Llevant, Bodegas Miquel Oliver currently produces around 220,000 bottles of wine per year. 85% of their wine is sold locally, and the rest is exported to northern countries. 95% of the visitors that come through this winery for sales and tastings are German tourists.  Here on island, their distributor delivers to restaurants, markets, and shops with different bottles going to different markets like Corté Ingles, Eroski, and Al Campo. At the time of this writing they are just finishing a new facility which will bring all production under one roof and they will only keep this historic bodega for special events.

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Señor Miquel Oliver is in his eighties now and mostly retired. The current owner is Pilar, the great-granddaughter of the original Melchor. Sadly for us, Pilar wasn’t there that day to meet; she sounds like an incredible woman. She is the bloodline owner, winemaker, and now innovator. She studied winemaking in Tarragona and then traveled around before perfecting her education and returning home to make wine.The opening summary of their wine tasting booklet sums up the bodega very well:

“By blending the traditional values of a one-hundred year old family cellar with a love of innovation, we’ve succeeded in making wine a form of self-expression.”

Road to Petra

We drove in to Petra via the old road from Sineu, which was lined with lovely rolling fields spotted with hay bales: definitely a suggested drive!  Petra is a historically rich inland town, and the birthplace of recently Sainted Father Junipero Serra, the Franciscan Friar who colonized/converted California through the famous Missions in the mid 1700’s.

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Parking on the tiny urban street, we made our way to the big delivery doors of Bodega Miquel Oliver. We were met by Ana, our tasting host, and she walked us from the office and display rooms, across the tiny street to the beautiful 1868 tasting area and former barrel rooms.

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Taking in the gorgeous vaulted ceilings and barrels lining traditional plaster walls, Ana told us that 2015 is the last year that most of their production will have been done over in Manacor, their barrel aging and bottling done here, and their storage kept elsewhere in Petra. That reminded us of Vins Miquel Gilabert which is also stretched across multiple locations! But in this case, within two weeks of our tasting, a new Bodegas Miquel Oliver facility on the Manacor-Petra road will open and house it all!

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We asked Ana for the deluxe tasting, and she poured us seven wines! Please see our Miquel Oliver Tasting Notes for details.

Miquel Oliver_Wine Selection

As she poured, Ana told us that the varietals they work with are Prensal Blanc, Muscatel, Merlot, Syrah, Callet, Fogoneu, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Manto Negro (which they use only for the Mont Ferrutx Crianza). She told us they put a lot of energy, love, and sweat into raising these grapes and making these wines!

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We learned that currently they are experimenting with new French oak barrels, but the barrels in this tasting room turn out only to be for decoration now. Ana told us they only use their barrels for four years, and then retire them for décor or sale. We asked about a huge old wooden tank standing regally in the corner. Ana told us it was a storage tank, made of Chestnut wood, and she was not sure of its age.

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Further discussing oak barrels, Ana told us that new French oak is intense and in time smooths and matures to the traditional “chocolate- or coffee-like” notes. American oak barrels start with strong tannins, and later impart a softer almost vanilla flavor. Russian oak is more neutral, and Romanian and Hungarian oaks are like milder versions of French. She also told us they use only natural cork from Portugal and Spain.

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Ana told us Bodegas Miquel Oliver is the first bodega to bring stainless steel tanks to the island back in 1986, and that Pilar was the first to make dry Muscatel wine on the island (having learned of it in France when she was apprenticing). As you surely know, the Muscat grape is very sweet and aromatic when ripe, and is usually used to make a sweet aperitif or dessert wine.

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We learned that the wines in their Son Caló line are their house-wines for easy drinking with meals. It is named after a beautiful cove on the north of the island, where Tawnee has been by boat, so the Son Caló line resonates with her!

Son Calo Wine at Son Calo Beach
It turns out that this bodega has the majority of its older vines in that area. This is very common as historically, the inland farms were the most valuable for food and feed crops and the coastal properties were for luxury and the summer. Each inland town had a coastal area that the inhabitants visited every summer. Colonia Sant Pere and Son Calo, where Mont Ferrutx is located, is in the summer coastal land of the Petra people. Bodegas Miquel Oliver only just recently started planting in Petra at the new facility.

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For the last few years, making 200,000 liters each year has been quite a big job for a team of only seven people (that number will change in the new facility!) — and they make a large variety of wines too, eleven in total. One of the things we really like about these wines is their character, not only in the flavors, but also in the naming. For example, the names Mont Ferrutx and Ses Ferritges come from the land where the grapes are planted. Another bottle that is unique is named 1912, a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend made in 2012 as a celebration of their 100 year anniversary. It has a really cool label and we’ve added it to our list of wines to try. They also make a bottle called Xperiment, which is a new experiment every year. They only make 700 bottles, two barrels, so it is always a limited edition!

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Probably the best wine that comes from the bodega is called Aia (which we were not able to taste), and it is named after Pilar’s mother; we love that tradition and ode! All the barrels used for this bottle are new French, American, Russian, Romanian and Hungarian oaks, and we look forward to being able to try it at the new facility! We love all the traditions that this bodega has! Like how the great grandfather Francisco started putting a bottle from each new year under the big Chestnut storage barrel, and they still continue doing it to this day!

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We understand that they were in the process of moving, yet of course we were disappointed not to see and discuss more of the traditional processes of barrel aging and bottling. However Ana was very knowledgeable about the wines! We feel very lucky to have experienced the original bodega as we did; and now look forward to coming back and starting all over again with a tour and tasting at the new Miquel Oliver Winery. One bodega with two stops on our Mallorca Wine Trail!

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Miquel Oliver Map


Directions:

Driving in direction from Inca to Manacor or visa-versa, you will see the Miquel Oliver bodega on the main road just outside of Petra. You can not miss it!

See Wines Tasted at Miquel Oliver: Click here

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Pere Seda Winery Visit

“Industrious winery emphasizes local grapes at peoples’ prices.”

Pere Seda Logo
+34 971 55.02.19
http://www.pereseda.com

Manacor, Mallorca Spain

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Over a century ago, Señor Pere Seda (Pedro Reus Morro 1886-1942) had vineyards in the Manacor area of Mallorca. This winery was founded by, and named after him. The Winery Pere Seda is a family run business (the same family since the beginning), and now produces 600,000 bottles per year. Yes, that’s right, a huge enterprise. And all production is done at their site in Manacor – from grape crates to shipping boxes. With over 100 hectares of local vineyards, they are in the D.O. Pla i Llevant, and are the biggest winery there. They use all natural cork, and sell young white, rosé and reds, Crianza and Reserva reds, and Cava (sparkling wine). Their grapes are Callet, Manto Negro and Prensal, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Parellada, Macabeo, Muscatel and Chardonnay.

A little about the name: Pere is Mallorcan for Peter, and Seda means silk. Seda was perhaps his ‘mal nombre’ or ‘apodo’,  something similar to a family nickname. These ‘nicknames’ are very common here, and often a person is only known by that. The tradition here is to name children after the grandparents’ first names (and wines too we’ve learned!), so a big family could have many Peres, which gets confusing. Hence the “mal nombre.”

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Massive steel tanks greeted us as we entered the gate, and instantly it was like we were in an Industrial Revolution era bottling plant.  Big time operations call for big-time production. With no sign of tourism or classic Mallorcan architectural detail, this winery was all business. Hearing and seeing activity, we walked into the bottling area and watched the production line of gorgeously backlit rosé being bottled and boxed. The workers looked at us, but nobody approached us… Not their job. We wandered around alone for a while, and finally stopped a man on a loader who went and found our man Tofol (short for Christobal, or Christopher in English). Greeting us quizzically, it felt like we caught him off guard, and we guessed they don’t have many drop-ins! He was very gracious and thorough during our tour and tasting, yet we kept feeling like he needed to be somewhere else, and didn’t quite understand why we were there… Self-education!

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Getting the tour, everything was vast and well organized for maximum production value. The bottling, sealing, and labeling machines were gigantic and loud, the fermenting tanks towering and many: Row upon row, steel and wooden…but enormous wooden like from the past…and still in use. We haven’t seen anything like these at other wineries, big or small. Writing this, we are curious how long these permanent tanks have been in use, and what the wine tastes like that is fermented in these instead of steel… must go back and ask!

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Tofol explained that the Pere Seda Winery has become so big that they don’t fit into the buildings any longer; with newer and multi-story tanks outside and behind the place just to keep up with demand. This was by far the most industrial bodega that we have been to, and it was fascinating to see such industry all for our delicate friend – wine! Funny how you see a bottle of wine on the shelf at a store, and never wonder what its childhood was like.  Now we know!

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Then Tofol took us downstairs to the aging area and suddenly we were in another world. The wonderfully cool barrel rooms, long halls and endless dim tunnels, felt like vast catacombs. Room after cistern-like room of old fermentation chambers now housed bottles resting and coming to age. We had seen this before at Ribas and even Miquel Gelabert, but not on this scale!

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It was incredible that hidden under the loud, big industry above, lay this labyrinth of small cellars and secret passages. Walking through these Tofol described their lines of wine:

  • L’Arxiduc – Blends from local and foreign grapes.
  • Mossèn Alcover and GVIVM – 2 variety blends from old growth vines and oak fermented
  • Crianza and Reserva – American oak fermented
  • Novell – That year’s vintage
  • Chardonnay – 100%: one label aged in French oak and one straight to bottle.
  • Sparkling – Cava with 2nd fermentation in the bottle

Pere Seda is one of the few Mallorcan wineries to make a Cava, Jose Ferrer being another.  We look forward to trying it!

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Ending the tour we were rewarded with a tasting in their reception salon. Standing in the baking summer sun, Tofol opened the anonymous door – and we were greeted by cool air and a beautiful ambiance of high ceilings, oak barrels, and glass tabletops. Here was the Mallorcan style we’d been missing! A small group with a distributor were there in a meeting, but we were granted a tasting anyways – lucky us!

Bottles clanking in line
Serene catacombs below
Ambiance-rich tasting room
Industrious, yet local

We’re sure a reservation was a courtesy we owed Tofol, but he rose to the occasion and gave us a great tasting. Please see our Pere Seda Tasting Notes for wines tasted.

Directions:Pere Seda Map
When you arrive to Manacor on the highway from Palma- you go straight through the round-about and follow the signs to Felanitx/Cales de Mallorca and when you get to the next round-about take the left (or first exit) direction Felanitx/Cales de Mallorca. Go through the next roundabout and under the tunnel and at the following round about- go all the way around and head back in, but to the right of the tunnel- there is a Yellow sign that says- Bodega Pere Seda. From there follow the yellow signs to the entrance!

See Wines Tasted at Pere Seda: Click Here

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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.

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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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