Celler Son Vives Visit

“Millionaire views paired with artisanal winemaking techniques”

Son Vives logo 1
Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Spain
[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!

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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

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

### Celler Son Vives ###

Son Vives Wine Tasting

Son Vives logo 1

Wine Tasted:

◊    2 Whites    ◊

Juxta Mare 2014
Fusio de Blancs 2014

◊   1 Red   ◊


son vives two bottlesson vives negre2

Celler Son Vives has the most picturesque tasting area with views of the sea and terraces lined with Malvasia vines. It would be bliss to be able to watch the sun set while sipping on a chilled white. Son Vives makes two native Mallorcan grape mono-varietal wines, their Malvasia dry & sweet, one white blend, and one red blend made from grapes that come from the warmer, dryer center of the island.  Our tasting guide, Mariona, was informative and a pleasure to have helping us. We are thankful that she took the time to have a short visit with us late on a Friday summer evening. Cheers!

Juxta Mare 2014
Grapes: Malvasia 100%

Son vives juxtamare front Son Vives Juxtamare back

Tawnee: I always love tasting a mono-varietal wine because it helps me to really understand what the flavors of the grape are supposed to be like. This wine has fruitful aromas and is subtly dry with a distinct finish! Yum.

Merie: Lightly dry, with hints of ripe fruit and honey, the bottle sweat invitingly from the perfect chill. This Malvasia grape is the signature variety of Banyalbufar, and the reason for being here. Apparently Son Vives also produces a Juxta Mare Malvasia Dulce, but it was not offered in our tasting.  Juxta Mare means ‘Beside the Sea’ in Mallorcan:  The coastal climate is so important to the grape, and the sea views critical to the way of life!

Fusio de Blancs 2014
Grapes: Malvasía
Prensal Blanc

Son Vives Fusio de Blancs Front Son Vives Fusio de Blancs back

Tawnee: This wine has a beautiful color and I like the name. A fusion of whites – with all white grapes! Also, it has been in oak which is not common for white wines. However, not my favorite, but that doesn’t surprise me as I don’t like Chardonnay very much.

Merie: Next Mariona poured the Fusio de Blancs, which we had enjoyed earlier in a local cafe on the main street of Banyalbufar. This delicious wine is made from Malvasia, Chardonnay, and Prensal Blanc grapes, and fermented in oak barrel.  The Chardonnay and Prensal grapes come from the center of the island in Sencelles and Santa Eugenia because they do not grow well in coastal Banyalbufar, and require the hotter, dryer inland plain.

Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Manto Negro
son vives negre

Tawnee: I love red wine! Their Negre has a good fruitful aroma and a dominant presence in mouth. I enjoyed this wine more knowing that Son Vives is being resourceful and adding a red wine to their wine production by having a plot of land in the center of the island.

Merie:   Last, we tasted their red Negre 12 Meses. It is a Crianza aged one year in oak – hence “12 meses” – and made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Manto Negro grapes.  It is produced entirely in Banyalbufar, but the red grapes are grown in the island’s interior wine country, near Santa Maria.  A perfectly good red, (which normally I prefer), but today the Whites ruled and no coincidence that they contain the rare and wonderful Malvasia grape.

Bodega Son Vives sign

Thank you Mariona!

See Son Vives visit: Click here

### Celler Son Vives ###

Cellar Ca’n Pico Visit

“Preserving a rich history and deep passion in a bottle”

logo Can Picowww.cellercanpico.com
Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Spain

As we started the day’s adventure – driving to the gorgeous stone-terraced northwest coast of the island and the small town of Banyalbufar – Tawnee described the road we were on as “Literally breathtaking!” A nice double-entendre because it was so narrow and steep that she was actually on edge. There are three wineries in this gorgeous, cliffy coastal village, which seemed odd — but it’s not: Here is where the rare  Malvasia grape is grown to perfection.

Bodega Ca'n Pico_7-3-15_#26

A bit about Malvasia: It grows well with coastal climate and mountain temperatures, and has been planted for centuries in Banyalbufar. A rare variety, it is also grown in Sardinia, Tenerife, and outside Barcelona in Sitges. Dry, it pairs well with fish, and white meats, and if allowed its sugars, makes a nice aperitif. This grape itself is high in sugar and they call it the generous grape, “La Generosa,” because it’s sugars allow a higher level of alcohol than most whites.  It is thought by some have been brought by the Phoenicians centuries BC, and to be the first grape on the island. It is certainly considered one of the few “natives.” Another name for the Malvasia grape variety is Malmsey.

In the mid to late 1800s a nobleman, the Marqués de la Cenia, grew Malvasia grapes and made his wine here in Banyalbufar, and took it to Madrid where it was prized among the wealthy.  He was a contemporary of the Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria who is famous for buying up and preserving wild areas of this terraced northern coast.  No coincidence, Malvasia is also planted miles away in S’Estaca, outside of Valldemossa, one of the Archduke’s notable properties and recently owned by actor Michael Douglas.

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So, our first stop in Banyalbufar was the Cellar Ca’n Pico winery. This is possibly the most beautiful vineyard in all Mallorca, perched on broad terraces overlooking the sea. It is necessary to make a reservation for two reasons: 1) to schedule a visit (not set up for drop-ins) and 2) to make sure the gates are open so turning around on the narrow road is less stressful!

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It seemed like we were pulling up to a private home, a grand old Mallorcan Estate (Finca). Well we were, and it turns out that all the wine production for Cellar Ca’n Pico takes place there at Finca Ca’n Pico, in a smallish Bodega that might otherwise be a large garage under the house. Our wine guide, the wonderful Juan Tomàs, met us as we parked, and opened the “garage door” to reveal a large stainless grape press and familiar steel tanks in the first room, then a tasting counter, bottles and barrels in the next. Tall and lanky with big brown eyes, Juan has been the “Bodeguero” at Ca’n Pico for 28 years since the current planting. They grow 80% of their Malvasia grapes right there at the terraced estate, buying a small amount more from other local vineyards.

We spent a long time talking with Juan, and we learned so much! Like most others, this tour and tasting were done entirely in Spanish, no challenge for Tawnee!

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First Juan Tomas showed us ‘la prensa,’ a well-crafted Austrian press to carefully break the grape skins amongst whatever stems are present after a hand-picked harvest. Next they move the mash to temperature controlled steel tanks, cool so no fermenting takes place as the sediments and particulates fall. At that temperature yeasts are inactive, and in one month the grape juice is stable and clarified, ready for further production.  The whole process from growing to bottle is done here at the Ca’n Pico estate, “Aqui nos hacemos todo.” Some goes straight from fermenting tank to bottle, a small amount goes to Oak first.

Bodega Ca'n Pico bottles

1988 is the oldest bottle of Malvasia from Cellar Ca’n Pico post phylloxera blight. 150 years ago they had more vineyards. Then for the 30 years of phylloxera they had no vineyards, and sold almonds, olives, carob, and tomatoes. Juan told the story that during phylloxera, one man in the pueblo of Banyalbufar guarded and tended his few failing Malvasia vines and made his family table wine. After phylloxera a friend took a cutting and planted, as did another.  But the product wouldn’t get above 12% alcohol, so it was making low quality wine. They added sulfites to stabilize the wine, and at the same time took cuttings of the vines to the local University of Baleares Islands (UIB)  biology department and learned the vines had 5 viruses. The University worked on them for 10 years and created a strong and resistant strain they could replant, and those are today’s Malvasia vines of Banyalbufar. Ca’n Pico held out and kept some of those vines up until the 1950s when they took them all out.  However, in 1980’s, Mr. Gabriel Canaves Picornell bought the farm and decided that with the help of our Juan Tomàs they would recover the Malvasia wine of the past. Through the advancements of science and passion they succeeded! They only produce about 5000 liters of wine every year, or 5000 bottles, and it is crafted to perfection.

Making only one label and with one grape, 100% Malvasia, they might be the only true mono-grape winery on the island, making them doubly special – the most beautiful and the most specialized.

Can Pico bottlesClick here for details: Wines Tasted

We tasted the Malvasia at the cool summer room-temperature of the Bodega. We’d had the bottle perfectly chilled earlier that day in the local restaurant where we’d had lunch. Better served properly chilled I thought, but excellent at both temperatures. Tawnee loved this bottle enough to buy one there, and has it on her favorites list.

Then Juan Tomas walked over to a far barrel, and lowering a length of hollow cane into a hole in the top of the barrel, he then sealed the top with his thumb to remove a serving of wine and released it into our glasses. It was the Malvasia Crianza Oxidativa, also known as Malvasia Generosa, which is made by the old method of the Marqués: It must be 16 % alcohol or more to bottle, because it is aged with air (allowing a % of air in barrel), and 15% alcohol or less becomes vinegar. It is much like Spanish Jerez, Sherry and Port in method and flavors. It is a sweeter wine. They do not produce it for sale at this time: Much work and little demand, so it is now for family and friends, a labor of love. Ca’n Pico began making it again in 1990 and producing a few in-house bottles in 2000.

Bodega Ca'n Pico_7-3-15_#17

Juan told us that only a few decades ago, most Mallorcan wines were mediocre because they didn’t have the current technology of temperature control. Merie remembers that time!!!   Especially with white, which must be around 10 degrees for first days of particulate separation, then ferment at controlled temperatures of 14-18 degrees. Of course Ca’n Pico used the traditional methods before Phylloxera, then replanted “recently” and instituted modern technology and methods, producing today’s tasty Malvasia label wine.

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After thoroughly enjoying our tasting and talk, Juan Tomas walked us around to see the closest vineyard terraces, and we basked in the beauty of this property, it’s breathtaking terraced seaside terrain and views.

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How to get there: WheMap Can Picon you leave Banyabufar going in directions Estellencs you will see a sign for the Parking on the right. You take the turn directly before that. There is a little sign that says: Ca’n Pico on the stone wall. Yes, the road is narrow and no there are no barriers. It is an adventure worth taking to try their wine.

See Wines Tasted at Can Pico: Click here

###   Cellar Ca’n Pico   ###

Ca’n Pico Wine Tasting

logo Can Pico

Wine Tasted

◊  2 Whites  ◊

Malvasia 2013
Malvasia Generosa

can pico bottle

Cellar Ca’n Pico loves Malvasia grape. It is the grape they use and have grown on their property since the 1800’s. They only commercially produce one bottle of white wine and have created a sherry wine that only bodega visitors get to try. Ca’n Pico lovingly recovered the Malvasia grape it in the late 1980’s after it completely died out from the phylloxera and have been perfecting this mono- varietal wine ever since. Their wine is delicate and refreshing.

Malvasia 2013
Grapes: 100% Malvasia

Can Pico frontCan Pico Back

Tawnee: A delicious white wine! I am not a white wine drinker and I loved this one. It has a subtle sweet beginning and a dry finish. The aromas are floral, perhaps like honeysuckle. Perfect for sipping chilled in the summer on a balcony looking out onto the sea. Their passion for their Malvasia grape can be tasted in the bottle.

Merie: Juan uncorked a bottle of their Malvasia at the cool room temperature of the Bodega. It was gorgeous, so different from the Chardonnay and Pinot Griegio I am used to! It was strong but subtle, dry yet dimensional, a memory of the sugars without actual sweetness. We’d had the same bottle perfectly chilled earlier that day in the local restaurant to complement a mixed Pa amb Oli lunch (a local favorite: open faced rustic bread slices drizzled with olive oil and tomato crushed across it, then topped with meats or cheeses). Malvasia is best served properly chilled I thought, but excellent at both temperatures. Tawnee loved this bottle enough to buy a bottle there, and has it on her favorites list.

Malvasia Generosa
Grape: 100% Malvasia

Malvasia Gernerosa

Tawnee: We got to try a special ‘aired’ wine similar to a Jerez wine or Sherry. It’s a sweet wine with 15.5% alcohol. They don’t fill the barrels up to the top so they can oxidize. It was sweet and golden. It would be ideal after a big meal and coffee. Sadly, I don’t think they sell this commercially yet. However, our experience was perfect, he even used a cane to delicately remove the wine from the oak barrels and pour into our glasses. Memorable!

Merie: Then Juan walked over to a far oak barrel. Lowering a length of hollow cane into a hole in the top of the barrel, he sealed the top with his thumb to remove a serving of wine, and released it into our glasses. What a slice of life! It is made by the old method of the Marqués: It must be 16 % alcohol or more to bottle Juan told us, because when aged with air (= allowing a % of air in barrel), 15% alcohol or less becomes vinegar. They do not produce it for sale at this time: “Much work and little demand,” so it is now just for family and friends, a labor of love. This wine was sweet and viscous, bright and luxurious; a super aperitif or after dinner treat. The Malvasia grape really IS generous!

Bodega Ca'n Pico Juan Tomas

Thank you Juan Tomás!

See Ca’n Pico visit: Click here

###   Cellar Ca’n Pico   ###