Vins Ca’n Novell Visit

“Authentic Mallorcan wine, good quality everyone can afford.”

Vins Can Novell logo

(Currently No Website)
+34 971 51.13.10
Binissalem, Mallorca Spain

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Inconspicuously situated on a small urban street in the heart of Binissalem, entering Vins Ca’n Novell is like going back in time to when locals and expats came from all over the island to refill bottles and stock up on wine for their meals. Ancient and enormous wooden casks line the back wall, wine-soaked and full of bulk wine on tap. Also for sale, old-fashioned multi-liter glass bottles with rubber baskets are available so you can reuse instead of wasting or recycling! Vins Ca’n Novell also has sealed bottle production of their wines, with 12 different labels; and tastings are available here too. This bodega is over 100 years old that they know of, with a current astonishing production of around 100,000 bottles per year. They are located not far from the larger José Ferrer and Tianna Negre wineries, but Vins Ca’n Novell is a blast from the Mallorcan past in comparison!  They seem not to be a part of the D.O. Binissalem – they were here before it existed and are conducting business as usual!

Without Origin...and what?Translation: A great wine without Denomination of Origen…and so what?

Hot and coming from a tasting, we went in search of water in Binissalem and stumbled onto Vins Ca’n Novell. In the short time that we were there, village people came by moped, bike, or car to pick up their daily wine. Standing wide eyed, we were greeted by a man as he rushed past us, full of smiles and life. “Have you been helped?” he called. It was none other than owner Andreu Villalonga. We excitedly asked for a tasting and a short tour – we were cutting it close with our next tasting scheduled in ½ hour; Andreu was in a hurry too, and jumped immediately into talking with passion about his wine! He showed us all the 12 different wines he makes on the display table, and then without hesitation went into the refrigerator and happily exclaimed “Let’s try the white!” We loved it! Then he asked us what we thought the price was…and to our surprise! Very few Euros!! Great wine at an incredible price!

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Lovely to see such enthusiasm, Andreu was bubbling with enjoyment for Mallorcan wine. He told us that the majority of his wines are made with local grapes, and showed us that all the labels are in Mallorquin – like the Chardonnay labeled Xardoné (the x in Mallorquin is pronounced like the ch in English). So special! Fourth generation in this family, Andreu told us he was unable to actually stop work and tour us, yet he opened several bottles and poured splashes into lovely tiny bar glasses, and then ran us around the operational back introducing us to all! Andreu told us that their “de granel” = “bulk wine” is the same quality and taste as that wine when bottled.

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Quickly we were whisked along into the back rooms where bottles were being cleaned and labeled, vans were loading, work in progress! Andreu told us that they box and store the cases of bottles at controlled temperature, allowing aging there, and never sell a case before its time.  He introduced us to a pair of men waiting patiently for him. One of them was a Friar here to return empty bottles. This winery reuses all the bottles you bring back, at the time of this writing: 1 Euro for 12 bottles! That is incredible considering that at the time of this writing, their wines are all well under ten Euros/bottle!  Andreu buys the bottles, cleans and reuses them, rather than buying new or recycling the glass, which he says makes the most sense to keep costs and waste down – and 300 Colombian kids eat because of this Friar’s return efforts! Kindness and environmental awareness in action, beautiful!

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In the far back of the sprawling building, we came to what is probably the formal entrance and office area. Cool, quiet, with beautiful stone floors, antique winemaking tools stand on display beside an enormous 200 year old olive wood cask that was still used for bulk wine until just recently. Here Andreu told us they had a huge tour of young Americans coming that weekend and he would feed them and pair his wines out at their nearby vineyard, then bring them back there for a tour. He said it would be a really fun group and he was looking forward to it. His joy was contagious. He invited us to join them, but stupidly neither of us managed to get away from real-life that day. Now we’re thinking we need our heads examined!

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Bubbling with passion
for his work
their wine
the vines
Wine for the people!

Vins Ca’n Novell is both funky and pretty, functioning and hopping. It’s a bodega with your daily table wine, made by locals and for everyone’s table! Come one, come all!

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Directions:Vins Can Novell map
When you get to Binissalem on the old Inca/Palma road, at the streetlight, turn towards the city center following the city center sign. This is the street that leads you directly to the plaza with the church on it. About three quarters of the way into the city center you will see the bodega on your right. Ca’n Novell!

See Wines Tasted at Vins Ca’n Novell: Click Here

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Vins Ca’n Novell Tasting

Vins Can Novell logo

Wines Tasted:

◊   2 Whites   ◊

Xardone 2014
Es Vermadors

   ◊   1 Rosé   ◊

Es Vermadors

◊   1 Red   ◊

É Roure

Vins Ca'n Novell

Vins Ca’n Novell is Mallorca Profunda – authentic Mallorca! They have stuck to tradition and kept prices down. Their wines are excellent for their prices. You can fill up the bottles from your house, or come and buy a bottle from them. Both options are economical and delightful to drink. In keeping with their love of tradition, the majority of their wines are made with local grapes. How lovely to see enthusiasm for tradition. Vins Ca’n Novell and Andreu are bubbling with enjoyment for Mallorca and Mallorcan wine.


#1
Xardoné
Grapes: Chardonnay

Vins Ca'n Novell_Xardoné

Comments:
Tawnee: This Chardonnay is one of the better ones on the island! It didn’t have the unpleasant finish that I do not like in a Chardonnay. Perhaps my search has found a winner! Additionally, it is unbeatable at Ca’n Novell prices! Happy taste buds and happy wallet = happy Tawnee. Enjoyable anywhere, it is fresh and pleasant for a hot summer day.

Merie: The first splash from the Xardoné (Mallorcan for Chardonnay of course) was tasty!  Using 100% Chardonnay grapes it is a “vino jovenes” a young wine, so no Oak and going straight form stainless to bottle; fresh and appetizing with just the right amount of tartness to make the mouth water on a hot day.


#2
Es Vermadors Blanc
Grapes: Prensal Blanc

Vins Ca'n Novell_Es Vermadors Blanc
Comments:
Tawnee: I am beginning to appreciate this grape. It is fresh and delightful in the mouth. A delicious addition to summer salad, or paired with zesty chicken.

Merie: Es Vermadors’ Prensal Blanc grapes are also known as Moll grapes in Mallorcan. This is a nice light and refreshing wine. It has slightly more white-fruit notes than Chardonnay, but is not sweet.


#3
Es Vermadors Rosé
Grapes: Manto Negro
Callet

Vins Ca'n Novell_Es Vermadors Rosé

Comments:
Tawnee: An authentic Mallorcan wine with Manto Negro and Callet grapes. This is a very distinct rosé. Perhaps my love of the Chardonnay made me not enjoy it as much as I could have. The name from this line from Ca’n Novell is Es Vermadors – in Mallorcan, a Vermador is a person who picks the grapes during harvest season; a fitting name for an authentic Mallorcan wine!

Merie: Es Vermadors Rosé is a blend from two local red grapes, Manto Negro and Callet. This wine is a testament to the quality of these grapes, which are often supported by foreign varietals! Very refreshing and appetizing!


#4
É Roure
Grapes: Merlot
Syrah

Vins Ca'n Novell_é Roure

Comments:
Tawnee: An instant buy to try at home. This was written in the Mallorcan ABC magazine as Vins Ca’n Novell’s best wine, and I had to try it, it being their best and most expensive yet so reasonably priced – it was a no-brainer. I served it on my terrace one late afternoon. It held its own and was very enjoyable.

Merie: Andreu apologized that he didn’t have enough bottles left in stock to open one that late in the day for two people, so we didn’t try it in the tasting. He showed us a review in a magazine featuring the best of Mallorca, and it called this wine worth five times the price! So, untasted we each bought a bottle!  Andreu said not to let it get too warm, to “drink it a little fresh.” Oops, I opened it at an outdoor lunch in a heat wave after a bottle of chilled Son Vives Juxta Mar — and I loved it! My husband didn’t. However he had it again that evening with steak and said that after breathing, and with red meat, it was wonderful. It is the kind of hearty, rich red I live for.


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Thank you Andreu!

Please see Ca’n Novell Visit: Click Here

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ANA Vins Winery Visit

“Simplicity, four excellent wines give this charming young winery a stable foundation.”

Ana Vins
+34 605.28.36.85
www.ana-vins.com
[In German only at the time of this writing]
Binissalem, Mallorca Spain

Ana Vins Winery

Celebrating the Mallorcan soil and unique local wine culture, Bodega ANA Vins specializes in native grapes, with northern varieties used in lesser percentages for structure and color. ANA is a young winery, started in 2010 with established, twenty year old vines. They now produce 55,000 to 57,000 bottles each year, mainly reds, and place great emphasis on giving the local varietals priority to capture the character of this island. They sell all they produce to their clientele on island, not aiming for an export market.  ANA Vins is not part of the local D.O. Binissalem, but is part of the local organization Vi de la Terra. German owned and financed, they started this winery because of a love for the local wines and island! Surely over many good bottles of local wine, the owners brainstormed with Mallorcan Francisco Pol Arrom who is experienced in the local Hospitality industry, and a young oenologist Tomeo Llabres; and ANA Vins was born.

Ana Vins

Why is it always the end of the day on Friday in this Blog??? It must be when we do our best work! We were driving around in the area late Friday afternoon, on a lovely lane in the middle of the countryside just outside of Binissalem, and we came across the yellow marker of ANA Vins. So we called to see if we could visit, and the answer was SURE!!; and an appointment made for 45 minutes from then. We drove through the vineyards as we approached newly constructed buildings set beautifully against their backing of vineyards and the Southern face of the Tramuntana mountains. Out popped a man’s head! Hello – we are here! It was the affable, knowledgeable, and multilingual Francisco Pol Arrom. He introduced himself as Xisco, and so it was!

Ana Vins tasting room

The three of us were sweating in the relentless heat, so we went straight to the cool tasting room for refreshment. Please see our tasting notes for facts, but of course we chatted while we tasted! Pouring their gorgeous, chilled Rosé, Xisco commented that at ANA Vins they are very particular with their maceration of each wine in order to get the exact color they desire. The display must be as appetizing as the aromas and flavors. Of course Rosé wines have a much shorter time in maceration than reds = sitting with their skins and seeds less time to catch only a flush of pink, and to avoid the level of tannins associated with good red structure. That, combined with the terroir of the limestone soil mixed with the local red earth (Call Vermell), make the unique attributes of a good Mallorcan wine.

Ana Vins Seleccio

We found that their red Selecció wine improved as it opened in our glasses, so we did a little research on why wines like to breathe. Most reds improve with a little aeration, because as the oxygen reaches the freshly opened bottle, the wine naturally settles into its true flavors and the tannins mellow. The wine comes into its own, and shouldn’t be judged until it has breathed sufficiently. Some people just open the bottle and let it sit awhile, others use a wide mouth decanter to speed up the process, or wide mouth glasses and swirling the wine to aerate it quickly.

Talking about their reds, Xisco said knowingly “Manto Negro is the grape of the land and loves cheese.” Warms the heart. Unlike many other wineries, both of the reds at ANA Vins included noticeable percentages of the Tempranillo grape. This is only the second winery we’ve visited on island where they have mentioned Tempranillo. It is such a staple Spanish variety, a signature grape on the mainland, but it seems almost rare on island so far…

Ana Vins thinking

We talked a bit about aroma vs taste consistencies. The ANA Vins Blanc barely had aroma, then tasted full and delicious. The Negre aromas were amazing, and it tasted really good, yet totally different from the scent. When we breathe in a wine and enjoy the aromas, we instinctively want the flavor to match it. It seems we must learn to enjoy the aromas for what they are, then on a separate subject, assess the flavors. Do vintners ever strive for homogeneous scent and flavor as an asset?

Ana Vins Barrels

As he poured, Xisco told us that ANA Vins prefers French oak. They find it rounder and fuller, and he said the American oak affects the tannins too much because the wood is younger – young oak is full of young tannins like young grape seeds. He also told us that they cut their first grapes in August, carefully looking for what is ready before September, the normal harvest season.

Ana Vins

After a very satisfying tasting, Xisco gave us the tour of the Winery. It was a ghost town at that hour on an early Friday evening, and fun to explore in the quiet. All was clean, new, and well organized. All production is done there on premise.

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It is beautifully laid out, from pressing to storage to barrel, bottling and labeling. The interesting thing that we noticed is that they efficiently store their bottles already packaged and boxed for the time that they age. The majority of the other bodegas we’ve seen store their bottles without label, and then clean and label before boxing and selling.

Ana Vins

We learned that Xisco is a man of many hats. He is the legs and heart of the bodega physically. We love to see such happiness in work. He told us the name ANA was chosen by one of the owners who has a daughter or a granddaughter named Ana; love the tradition of naming after the women! Xisco told us they also work with a Swiss chocolatier who combines chocolate with their wines – an experience we would like to try.

Ana Vins

We drove away happy and so enjoying this continued adventure. ANA Vins is a lovely winery with very good wines, and we do recommend it as a tasting destination on our MallorcaWine Trail!

Ana Vins Winery

Directions:Ana Vins Map
From Binissalem you take the road going towards Binali. There is a stop light at this intersection, so it is easier to notice. When you reach the Cami de Muro there will be a small white sign for this- it is the cross street. You will also see a yellow sign for ANA Vins. Take a right and follow for about 300m and there will be the bodega entrance on your right.

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See Wines Tasted at Ana Vins: Click Here

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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Ribas Winery Visit

“Passion and dedication in a coupage of creativity and unforgettable wines.”

Ribas logo
www.bodegaribas.com
+34  971 62 26 73
Consell, Mallorca, Spain

Established in 1711, Bodega Ribas is one of the oldest wineries on the island and has been in the same family for 13 generations; thus it is the oldest one-family winery in Mallorca. After the Phylloxera plague, the family went to olive products, almonds, and carob until they replanted local grapes with American rootstock around the turn of the last century. The current generation, a sister and brother in their late thirties, have completed their oenological degree on the mainland and are the new and highly regarded Ribas winemakers.

Ribas Bodega

Designated organic, Ribas has 40 hectares of vineyards (98 acres) with 160,000 vines planted approximately 2 kilometers from the estate, direction Santa María. Ribas produces 130-150,000 bottles per year. That’s almost 1 bottle per plant, which is generally considered a low yield. However, Ribas’ focus is on quality, and the oldest vines produce less volume, but great flavor. Their local grapes include Manto Negro, Callet, Gorgollassa, and Prensal Blanc. All production is done here at this beautiful historic estate winery.

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Experiencing Ribas was like falling in love. Practically in the industrial district of Consell, we followed discreet signs along anonymous inland streets until we turned into the estate, or finca, of Bodega Ribas. We have driven through this town for years, and never realized that there was a bodega here. It is a diamond in the rough. It has been the family home as long as it has been their winery, and it is rare that you get to see one of these inland empires. Clearly, it was once a magnificent country estate – until the town swallowed it up. Our French born tour guide, Sylvia, told us that – incredibly – the family still lived here up until this last decade, and all generations still meet here daily for the family lunch.

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We had booked in advance and paid for the full tour and tasting – exciting! Starting the facility and production tour, Sylvia told us that this winery is certified organic, using only natural copper and sulphur dusts to eliminate fungus and pests. August through October they go over every vine by hand as it is less aggressive than machines, includes no branches or snails, allows first selection of early bunches and elimination of weak ones. After that, the grapes are brought in 15kg boxes so no grape is crushed by the weight of others, and then spread onto a table and hand culled before they are put into the de-stemming and maceration machine. It sounded incredibly labor intensive, and yet fantastic that they want to ensure that each wine comes from the best grapes.

They use a pneumatic press, selecting the pressing pressure by grape variety. For red wines they use skin and seed during fermentation/maceration, and then press the grapes after. Rosés are pink (rather than red) because of less time with red-grape skin. Ribas wines are not sold in super markets and are mostly available in restaurants and vinotecas (wine stores). 40% of their product stays here in Mallorca, 10% goes to the mainland, and 50% goes to Switzerland and Germany. Their fermentation area is flanked with stainless tanks, and they add yeast as necessary to complete the processing of sugars in order to achieve the desired flavors and dryness.

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During fermentation, skins and seeds rise, so they use a delicate pump to remix. Otherwise those float, known as “the sombrero,” and can mold and the ingredients aren’t available for fermentation. When ready, they lower the temperature to slow or stop fermentation, extract the wine without pressure, press if not already pressed, and go to oak barrel.

Ribas Wine

Sylvia told us that historically, Mallorcan wineries produced inexpensive wines with no oak barrel aging, no structure, to be ready in three months for the December and January village festivals. Mallorcans in the towns would come to buy “a granel” which is “in bulk,” bringing their own bottles. This is the young wine that towns still provide for the island Saints’ festivals like San Sebastian and San Antoni.

Bodega Ribas

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Then we were taken across the estate to the bodega, where they have all the barrels. This is a beautiful, peaceful place. It is an original building and has the thick 1m walls, which helps with the acclimatization. On to the tank room, Sylvia also showed us the 60-year-old cement tanks lined with red non-toxic sealant, historically lined with tile.

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These tanks are still used for certain wines and kept at 25-27° Celsius, a temperature slightly higher than the steel tanks can handle without their releasing a steel flavor and aroma. She told us that the Ribas routine is to ferment individual grape types first, and then blend wines as desired (coupage), and age in oak barrels. Over time they taste and sometimes mix further, and finally move the desired wine to bottles for final aging.

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Over all, Ribas uses 85% French oak, and 15% American oak barrels, and have them elegantly placed one on top of the other. It is beautiful to see how at Ribas, the modern mixes with the traditional; here the doors are glass and the building centuries old. They are experimenting with different sizes of barrels to see how they affect the wines. We asked Sylvia to explain to us why Ribas and other wineries choose to ferment in oak barrels from multiple countries. She told us that generally speaking, French oak comes from older trees and imparts milder flavors of chocolate and tobacco.  American oak barrels come from younger trees (they are dried artificially for timely use), are more porous, and impart robust flavor of coco and vanilla, and they allow more oxygen transference.  Who knew???? The year of the barrel is listed on its face (not the year of the wine as we had thought), so the vintners know how long it has been in use, and thus what amount of flavor it is imparting. While still in barrel, they sample the wines to check their evolution, and then top up the barrels as needed; wine evaporates (particularly in porous American oak) and a barrel must stay full to avoid oxidation. [Remember the technique used at Ca’n Pico where the oxygenation was purposeful?] A barrel’s use is a maximum of 12 years (often less). They re-use the barrels 3-4 times then sell them as decorations. They also give them to artists who paint or sculpt them in a project called BotArt that Ribas started. They feel that both winemaking and artistry are creative processes, and this is where they bring the two worlds together in a coupage

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Before we went to the tasting room, we were asked if we wanted to see the original house of the familia Ribas.   Oh, you bet.   We were shown through the home’s “entrada” (or entrance salon), which was set with tables for an event that night; and then into the home’s 1776 kitchen, still intact and fully functional. The Grandparents are the last generation to have lived here, and they still eat here every day with the family in that wonderful Mallorcan tradition.  This kitchen is a glimpse back in time to when the island was still largely unchanged for centuries, and we were in awe of its grand and traditional beauty!

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Excitingly, the “Cata,” or Wine Tasting came next. The tasting room is beside a courtyard off the fermenting rooms and offices, and we felt like we’d been taken into a secret garden! Here we saw the old barrels that have been transformed into pieces of art, the BotArt Sylvia was telling us about. We always love to see things recycled and repurposed, and creating art out of unneeded wine making ‘equipment’ is an incredible initiative. Eagerly, we sat down amid modern interiors, beside the antique patio with ArtBarrels, and the tasting began.

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We are starting to understand that many wineries have lines of wine, and within these lines are selections, generally including white, rosé, and red wines (for example the José Ferrer Winery’s organic line Pedra de Binissalem).

At Ribas their lines are:

  • Ribas – 2 whites, 1 red
  • Sio – white, rosé, red

Special releases including

  • Soma — White, 100% Viognier
  • Ribas de Cabrera – Their signature Red Coupage
  • Desconfio de la Gente que No Bebe – Red

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We were in a heat wave and Sylvia politely pointed out that to keep a chilled white wine cool as long as possible, you hold the glass by the stem to keep the heat of your hand away from it; whereas in the winter you might cup your hand around the glass to help warm and open a red.

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As we sipped the marvelous Ribas wines, Sylvia said their red Ribas Negre is very representative of the Mallorcan terroir. School in session: Terroir is the unique flavors and aromas of a wine that come from the growing environment, including soil and climate: In this case from the red Mallorcan earth, rich in salts and limestone. As example, it makes sense that 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines would present differently (taste and aroma) if produced in the exact same way but with grapes from different terroir.

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On the tasting table were six glasses – one for each wine to taste, and crackers, cheese, and Ribas olive oil. Sylvia started by explaining a little bit about each wine, then poured and left the bottle on the table as we are given time to enjoy the surroundings and talk as she came and went.

Ribas tastingRibas_7-9-15_#25

We were very inquisitive that day and asking lots of questions. Our enthusiasm, we guess, was noted so much that we were introduced to one of the family members: daughter enologist Araceli Servera Ribas. The first thing Tawnee noticed was her shirt! It was a Pink Floyd copy, but with a wine glass instead of a prism, and their web address on the back. Ingenious!  Tawnee proceeded to ask her a question that had been bothering her forever: “I always see people sticking their noses in the wine…and I wanted to know what they were really looking for… exactly how does a person smell a wine? ”

Truth be told, as self-educators, so far we have been stabbing wildly to describe aromas. Here we confided in Araceli that there was nothing consistently, logically, obvious to us like “I detect notes of immature lowland moss and gummy bears;” and yet “experts” are confident, direct and concise. Smiling with beautiful wide eyelids like Shelley Duvall, Araceli slowed us down. She said there is a platform to start from, and in enology education they teach the first detections:  Fruity or mineral? If fruity, tropical or forest berries like strawberry, blackberry, or stone fruit like plum? If mineral, which one? Maybe iron, old vine, rain on earth? And do you detect barrel aromas? American vanilla or coconut? French cacao, licorice or tobacco? Many barrel-makers burn the barrels to eliminate resin, the scorch lends sometimes-desirable flavor, so wineries clean and choose according to objective:  Do you detect a hint of smoke = new barrel? The function of the barrel is to mature the flavors – like when pasta sauce is better the next day because the flavors have bloomed and mingled. Did we detect the balsamics of a young vine? Menthols? Etc. It isn’t a free-for-all as it seemed to us, it is a narrowing, a detection, and recognition. Tawnee made a simple aroma chart:

how to smell wine ribas

Soon the conversation took off excitingly on the subjects of grape selection, her winery recommendations, and island wine history. Somewhere in all of this she told us that many red wines in Mallorca are 14% alcohol like a sweet white; because of the amount of sun the island gets, the red grapes get very sweet, and thus it takes a long fermentation period as the yeasts consume the strong sugars before achieving a dry red. We also learned that the Ribas winery is also partly responsible for recovering other indigenous grape varieties of the island, as Gorgollassa and Escursac, which were practically non-existent after Phylloxera. Voracious and exuberant, we moved on to the topic of tannins, which before Araceli had pretty much eluded us as well. Tannins are astringent:  they are color stabilizers in wine just as in the leather industry, and lend structure or balance to flavorful wines. Young grape skins and seeds are more astringent, as is new oak; they have bitter macro tannins. Flabby structure in a wine means no tannins, or overly soft tannins (hmmm, we’ve had those wines…). Old vines, like old wood barrels, impart smoother tannins, mellower perhaps, but not considered weak.

Ribas_7-9-15_#23

Everything was coming clearer. Sylvia poured, we breathed in aromas and washed flavors around our mouths… and we continued to converse with Araceli about her family, the bodega, and why she decided to become an enologist. We could see the passion she holds about wine and doing things right – she has been all over the world in her studies learning about how different wineries make their wine. What we enjoyed the most was that she took the time to hang out with us and help us learn. She was willing and positive, offering ideas and answering questions with patience. We didn’t feel stupid asking the silly things we had always wanted to know. To top things off – she then told us that the shirt she was wearing was for sale there! We both bought one!

IMG_5221 IMG_4506sm

A diamond in the rough,
overflowing glasses of good
wine and knowledge.

We sipped on as we talked, so please see our Ribas Tasting Notes for descriptions of the truly gratifying wines we enjoyed here at Bodega Ribas.

Directions:
Bodega Ribas MapOn the Highway Palma-Inca take off the exit for Binisalem, Alaro, Consell and at the round about take the ‘left’ or three quarter around turn. That will bring you into the town of Consell. Here you must  look for the signs for Bodega Ribas. Follow them (curving through the town) until you reach an estate with an entrance with sign Ribas.

See Wines Tasted at Ribas: Click Here

###   BODEGA RIBAS   ###

José Ferrer Winery Visit

“Deep rooted tradition, with modern innovation.”

Jose Ferrer Logowww.vinosferrer.com
Tel. +34 971 51 10 50
Binissalem, Mallorca Spain

The José Ferrer Winery is still family owned and run since its founding in the 1930s, and is one of the largest and most organized wineries on the island. A smaller vintner told us the family is now island aristocracy. So well established, José Ferrer is one of the primary symbols of Mallorca for wine. They have made their name, reinvested their profits, are large and efficient, and have an inviting facility for welcoming people who come tour and taste. They make wines of all grades, from young table wines to select reserves, reasonably priced and available in stores everywhere. Their current production is 800,000-900,000. bottles per year. They are registered in the D.O. Binissalem and Vi de la Terra Mallorca, and have some vineyards registered in the association of Ecological Agricultural Products. Their wines are well known throughout Spain, and as Spanish export wine. At their stylish winery in Binissalem, they offer many levels of tours and tastings.

Jose Ferrer grapes

Jose Ferrer_6-24-15_#8

We showed up without a reservation, and overheard the tour guide Miguel tell the people in front of us that there was a tour about to leave; but it was a closed tour, pre-booked by a small group and not open to the public. We wandered away, looking at the vast display room, and the tour left without us. A cheerful employee came up and asked if she could help us. We inquired about the next tour, and she immediately lead us to Miguel, they spoke in Mallorquin, and we joined Miguel’s closed tour that had just begun! Another example of the nice way even large island businesses can be personal! We followed bursting with questions, but not wanting to dominate the tour that we were so lucky to get on…

Jose Ferrer_6-24-15_#11

In fact, the tour was fairly formal. First, we were shown the original bodega area, with lovely old fermentation tanks painted red with a product that seals out oxygen. Next we were taken upstairs to see the contrasting enormous stainless-steel fermenting tanks now in use since the bodega’s 1990s upgrade and remodel. Their size was astonishing; we were on the second story and they still towered above us! We then toured the clean and efficient bottling plant; then on to the gorgeous old original cellars that are still in use. The main cellar is a vast room and beautifully lit. Miguel mentioned that there was a basement with more barrels below, not surprising because of the sheer volume of their production; their website says they have 2000 barrels in use!

Jose Ferrer_6-24-15_#12

Here we learned that at José Ferrer, if they age a wine in oak, they generally age in bottle the same amount of time. All wines ferment first in the stainless steel tanks. Fermentation stops when they lower the temperatures, which kills the yeasts, after which time the sediments are removed. They stop the fermentation of their red wines as soon as they separate it from the skins. And the local Manto Negro varietal is the red grape they use most, by choice and in keeping with DO Binissalem requirements.

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After seeing the attractive new climate-controlled barrel rooms, we passed to where the wine was aging in bottles. Here we were told that José Ferrer makes one of the only Cavas, on the island.  So you know, Cava is the lovely name for Spanish sparkling wine.

Jose Ferrer Cava

It can’t be called champagne because the name “Champagne” is a Designation of Origin that can’t be used anywhere outside of Champagne, France. Anyway, at José Ferrer, the Cava never goes to oak, it goes straight from stainless to bottle. It is a coupage of Prensal Blanc (aka Moll), Muscat & Parellada grapes. Ok, we learned “Coupage” is a term for the blending of wines to create a new wine that is intended to be better than any of its parts alone.

Jose Ferrer tasting room
The tour moved on to a beautiful tasting room with magnum bottles lining both sides and a gorgeous long wooden table in the middle. We were told that they do private tastings in that room, but for bigger groups. We would have been delighted if we could have stayed and tasted there, the ambiance was that of Spanish Knights meeting around the table in preparation for victory.

Jose Ferrer Magnum Bottles
Gesturing to all the bottles, Miguel told us there are multiple lines of wine at José Ferrer, each include whites, rosés, and reds:

  1. José L Ferrer
    Traditional wines made the same way since their beginning in 1931
  2. Veritas
    Innovations and newer trends
  3. Dues
    Blends of 1 each Mallorcan and foreign grape varietals
  4. Pedra de Binissalem
    certified organic wines
  5. Special Editions

Back upstairs we saw rail tracks around the stairway. We were told that the rail used to come right through José Ferrer to ship their wine across Mallorca and to the island ports destined for Europe. Clearly it is one of the biggest wineries on the island, and rich in local history!

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After the very interesting tour, Miguel stayed with us and we continued our talk and started our personal tasting.  Perhaps our enthusiasm and true interest in wine opens Cellar doors for us!

Jose Ferrer_6-24-15_#5
Jose Ferrer MapHow to get there:
From the Highway Palma-Inca, take the exit for Alaro/Binissalem and at the roundabout go in direction Binisalem, which is right. José Ferrer Winery is on the main road on the right hand side. There are big signs and a parking lot. You cannot miss it!

See Wines Tasted at José Ferrer: Click Here

### JOSÉ FERRER ###

Son Vives Wine Tasting

Son Vives logo 1

Wine Tasted:

◊    2 Whites    ◊

Juxta Mare 2014
Fusio de Blancs 2014

◊   1 Red   ◊

Negre

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!


#1
Juxta Mare 2014
Grapes: Malvasia 100%

Son vives juxtamare front Son Vives Juxtamare back

Comment:
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!


#2
Fusio de Blancs 2014
Grapes: Malvasía
Chardonnay
Prensal Blanc

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

Comment:
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.


#3
Negre
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Syrah
Manto Negro
son vives negre

Comment:
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 ###

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.


#1
Malvasia 2013
Grapes: 100% Malvasia

Can Pico frontCan Pico Back

Comment:
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.

#2
Malvasia Generosa
Grape: 100% Malvasia

Malvasia Gernerosa

Comment:
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   ###