Bodega Castell Miquel Visit

“Where science meets wine – a Stairway to Heaven”

Castell Miquel Logo
+34 971 510 698
Alaró, Mallorca, Spain

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The Castell Miquel winery is owned and run by German pharmacist Professor Popp who comes once a month to oversee the winery. Founded in 1998, he started Castell Miquel as an inspired hobby, financing it through the success of his internationally known Bionorica Company, which produces high quality medicinal plant extracts here in Mallorca and in Germany. His first name is Michael which is Miquel in Mallorquin, and the primary structure on the former chicken farm is a castle-style home built by General Franco in the 1960s for his in-laws: hence the winery name Castell Miquel.

They currently produce 280,000 liters/bottles per year. There is clearly room for expansion, and plans to turn the old chicken factory buildings into Agrotourism accommodations. The winemaker is Tomas Wambsganss, and together he and Professor Popp produce wines with a focus on the strengths of each varietal. They grow grapes on site, and also have vineyards in Binissalem and Porreres.

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The undivided rural road to Castell Miquel leads gently up from the flat wine country, through old stonewalled farmland, to the southern foothills of the Tramuntana mountain range, and is one of the loveliest drives we’ve done so far. As we got out of the car in the hot Spanish morning, cicadas shrilled continuously. The place is enormous, ready for tour buses, the layout very Napa Valley while still using the traditional stone Mallorcan architectural design and terracing.

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Most impressive is the outdoor tasting area with a spectacular view of the two picturesque mountain peaks of Castell Alaró. There are informative signs about their grapes and their process of wine making which are placed strategically for a tour or self-tour.

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Arriving at the tasting room, we were greeted by Marta who cheerfully told us that they don’t give tours to groups under 10, that tastings are €5.00 per person, and that the first bottle bought after the tasting will be discounted that amount. We could tell that this winery is owned by a businessman, as their branding and marketing are fabulous. They have wine, olive oil, marmalades and colognes under the same brand.   Marta was just finishing another tasting, so to pass the time until our turn, she sent us on a lovely stroll through the vineyards and up to a vista point with a large piece by British sculptor Tony Cragg.  Art and wine paired again!

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Savouring the view, and debating where to have our tasting, we chose the inside where we could talk more with Marta. Once there, she served us Miquel Castell black olive spread with Mallorcan Quely crackers, marmalade, olive oil, and fresh water to help our palates.  She then began to pour, saying that apples and olive oil help clear and neutralize the palate when tasting. Gesturing to their display, she told us that at Castell Miguel they currently produce 2 whites, 1 rosé, 3 reds and a Cava (sparkling white). Four of their wines are mono varietal, and two are blends. The Monte Sion line uses grapes from the Porreres Vineyard. The Stairway to Heaven line uses grapes from here at the Alaro Vineyard. The Cava grapes are from mainland Cataluña. This winery has a great website to consult for descriptions of each wine, and it’s fun to read their categories including “the origins of delight” and “what guides us.”

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We asked Marta why the line is called Stairway to Heaven. She told us that Professor Popp sees the terraced mountainsides of the Tramuntana as stairs rising to the heavens – a lovely image! There is a story associated with the property – better described on the website – that an angel appeared on the land centuries ago and told the owner to plant grapes there. These terraces are the grateful stairway up. And of course Popp likes the song by Led Zeppelin!

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We chatted with Marta as she poured for us. She told us they use the standard copper, sulfur, and bicarbonate against fungi and mildew. She also spoke about oak fermentation, and told us that French oak barrels generally come from older trees, and have tight grain and pores, so the maturing process is slower. Hungarian oak is in the middle. American oak has bigger pores exposing the wine to more oxygen, which accelerates maturation. Here they use French and Hungarian oak barrels, often preferring Hungarian because of its tannins and flavors as well as the rate of oxidation. And they like the smaller, 225 liter barrels because of the ratio of wood to wine. They carefully filter their wine before bottling, and after corking they allow their bottle aging from six months to three years, depending on the wine. Their wines are sold at fine retail stores including the exclusive Corte Inglés, with 60% of their product exported to Germany.

castell miguel wine

We learned that Professor Popp is a pharmacist who works with all organic botanicals with his company Bionorica, and that their products are sold in over 50 countries around the world!  So it is only natural that in wine making Professor Popp pays special attention to the grapes and wine’s health benefits.  Wine as medicine, historically accepted as fact, has now been scientifically proven. Castell Miguel ensures that their wine has the highest quality ingredients and process to maximize this important fact.

An interesting first for us is this winery’s use of glass corks or the Vino Lok system. It helps to preserve the freshness after the bottle has been opened, and slows the aging process in bottle because it isn’t porous like cork. Fascinating!

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These are good, clean wines, and we are convinced that when paired correctly they are a complement to any table. That being said, we must say that overall we found them highly produced, consistently un-adventurous, and almost neutral and scientifically in the middle of the palate. We would not describe them as having outstanding character, nor greatness. They are unusually consistent wines that do not overpower.  So, it is a MUST that you come here and decide for yourself; the experience is a joy, and the wines are clean and good and unlike any other on our island.

Directions:Castell Miquel Map
When you get to the town of Alaró, follow the main road into the center of town. On the right hand side you will see a yellow sign for Castell Miquel. Turn right here and follow the signs weaving through the mountains on the back road to Ínca and Lloseta. You can not miss the Castell on your right!

See Wines Tasted at Castell Miquel: Click Here

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José Ferrer Wine Tasting

Jose Ferrer Logo

Wines Tasted:

◊   3 Reds   ◊

Pedra de Binissalem Negre 2013
Reserva Veritas 2007
Veritas, Vinyes Velles

Jose Ferrer multiple lines

There is no shortage of wines to choose from for tasting! With five different lines of wines produced at José Ferrer, we wanted to taste them all! However, we must have told Miguel we are red-centric, because we only tasted red wines today. In retrospect, of course we should have tried a white and a rose, because it is hard to understand the full spectrum of the winery when you only taste one type. But, one really can’t taste everything as a drop-in; and we were going with the flow – as one does!

Putting our glasses beside a plate of Quelly biscuits and Mahon cheese (great authentic Mallorcan products for our tasting), Miguel poured, and we dove into a sea of red.

Pedra de Binissalem Negre 2013
Grapes: Mantonegro
Cabernet Sauvignon

Jose Ferrer Pedra de Binissalem

Tawnee: I am so happy to see that a major producer on the island is getting into organic wine! We had to try this red! It was delicate, with ripe berry tones and a distinct finish.

Merie: The first wine was the Pedra de Binissalem, Negre 2013. This deep red wine is organic, from their own Vineyard at Finca Sa Pareteta which is registered Ecological. It is a blend of Manto Negro and Cabernet grapes. They cool the bunches of grapes before squeezing, and maceration and fermentation are done in stainless tanks before following with 6 months in new American and French oak barrels. This wine has aromas of berries and ripe fruit, with the chocolate and coffee notes of French oak.

Reserva Veritas 2007
Grapes: Manto Negro
Cabernet Sauvignon

Jose Ferrer Veritas

Tawnee:  I was happy to be able to try a Reserva on the tasting list, as usually they do not open them. This was a solid wine. The name is perfectly chosen – Veritas in English means “the truth.”  It would be good served with a traditional meal of Mallorcan lamb chops, fried garlic and French fries.

Merie: Next we tried The Reserva Veritas 2007 red. Fermented in stainless, aged one year in French and American oak, then aged in bottle over two years before sale. It is made from 60% Manto Negro, then Callet and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is a very rich, almost smoky wine, with aromas and flavor of ripe fruit.

Veritas Vinyes Velles
Grapes: Manto Negro
Cabernet Sauvignon

Jose Ferrer Veritas Vinyes Velles

Tawnee: This is my favorite wine of all that we tasted, and I like the label with the big V! V for Veritas (the truth). It is a solid wine with a good rich flavor in mouth. Vinyes Velles means “the old vines” and that is where this wine comes from – José Ferrer’s oldest vines. Knowing this adds to the enjoyment of drinking it, it is deep rooted and full of heritage and wisdom.

Merie: Finally we tried the Veritas red. All the Manto Negro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Callet grapes in this wine are hand chosen from old vines. Held in French and American oak for one year. It is rich, with smoky almost roasted, aromas and flavor.

Here is the rub: There is some quality about these reds that wasn’t to our taste. We are wondering if the grapes are pressed too ripe, or if a short fermentation period leaves some residual sugars, or maybe the tannins are too smooth… we really don’t know. These wines are rich and robust and have a ripe fruit quality; however, there was something different about them that was consistent in all. Further education is needed!

Jose Ferrer Miguel

Thank you Miguel!

See José Ferrer visit: Click here


Bodega Macia Batle Visit

“Where Wine meets Art, a perfect pairing.”
Macia batle logo

Santa Maria del Cami, Mallorca Spain

Founded in the 1850s, Bodegas Macià Batle currently produces approximately  1 million bottles per year, the largest producer on the island we are told. Don’t let the size deter you!!  We love this wine; and the tasting and tour are high on our list of “Don’t Miss” wineries! Located in Santa Maria del Cami, they are in the Binissalem Denomination of Origin, (DOB), and currently have 100 hectares of vineyards. They can produce 140,000. bottles at one time. 40% of their wines go for export to the UK, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Switzerland and Denmark, and 60% for the island in grocery stores, wine shops, and restaurants. In 2004 they enlarged to current production levels. Mallorcan Chairman Sebastià Rubí loves art, so every year their Crianza and Reserva wines get special artistic labels, and label-art decorates the winery like a private gallery!

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The grapes they grow include local varietals Manto Negro, Gorgollassa, Giro Ros, Prensal Blanc, Muscatel, and northern grapes including Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Bodegas Macià Batle grows most of its own grapes, but an interesting fact is that in the Binissalem Denomination of Origin (DOB), wineries can buy grapes from other vineyards, as long as they too are in the DOB. It is our understanding that the DOB red wines must be made with a minimum of 30% Manto Negro or Gorgollassa grapes. The Whites must have a 50% minimum of Premsal Blanc (also known as Moll), or from the variety Moscatell.  And the Rosés require a minimum of 30% Manto Negro or Gorgollassa.  Go local grapes!!!

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While the scale at Macià Batle seems enormous compared with our previous Wine Trail Bodegas, this winery is well laid out with pleasing architecture, good light, and we certainly got the feeling of a care for excellence rather than mass production. Our tour was fun and truly informative, led by multilingual Isabel who seemed to be as excited about winemaking as we are. There are scheduled tasting tours at specific times that can be booked in advance. Or, like us, you can gamble and hope to just show up and be a part of one. Either way, we highly recommend it and think this is one of the best winery tours on the island.

Macia Batle guided tour

Arriving at Macià Batle, you first enter via the main showroom.  It has all the glorious certificates and bottles on display, wonderful label art on the walls, and interesting books and deli products for sale. It sounds touristic, but the layout and colors are so good that it is a pleasure to enter and browse.

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Beginning the tour we learned that their entire bottling process is automatic. We walked through high-ceilinged halls past enormous machines that clean bottles, fill them, label, cap, seal, then load them into cases. Their Italian bottling machine is enormous, filling up to 3,000 bottles in an hour! They use real cork from the mainland and Portugal, despite its increasing cost due to global over-harvesting of the slow-growing cork tree bark. [Actually, later on in our self-education Wine Trail we learned that real cork is the norm in Mallorca.  We haven’t come across plastic yet!]

Macia Batle Steel tanks

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Stopping briefly at the back of the Production hall, we were shown a display of all the artistic labels to date. Chairman of Bodegas Macià Batle, Sebastià Rubí, is a true art lover. It is incredible to see the collection on display from the different years and artists. A real collectors’ piece! Believe us, reading their website about these bottles and artists adds a wonderful dimension to enjoying the wines!

Macia Batle Art labels

Next Isabel led us downstairs into the underground cellar, as the cool musky smell of oak rose to greet us. Below, oak barrels filled the long rooms, and arched halls framed expanses of dark gleaming bottles coming of age – the lighting creating the feel that we were in the wine cellar of a beautiful Spanish Castle.  Continuing, we were shown the area where they use the old process of carbonic maceration, fermenting the whole grape 2-3 weeks before pressing.

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Isabel told us that for a wine to be called Crianza, it must be aged at least 6 months in oak ( but you knew that, right?). Some of their wines ferment in oak, some ferment in the tanks then age in oak.  She told us French oak is a thinner wood and creates high quality chocolate and coffee flavors and aromas. German Oak has a similar quality and is less expensive.  They buy barrels new, and sell them after 4 years to Port and Whisky makers. They keep the barrel rooms at 80% humidity and at a temperature of 11-12° Celsius (51-53° F). Walking further along Isabel showed us their Bordeaux French tanks which are steel inside and cement on the outside. The tanks have an egg shape, and fermentation circulates differently within. We can’t wait to taste and compare these!

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Leading us down the halls of resting bottles, Isabel talked about the local grapes.  She said that the wines from this region of Mallorca are so good because of the soil, because there are around 300 days of sun each year, and because the wine country is not far from the cool sea yet sheltered from sea storms.

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Upstairs again and into the tasting salon, more original art adorned the walls surrounding a large raucous group of French tasters who were having a ball! It was great to see that they can accommodate such a big group and still have it feel like a personal party. We would have loved to have snuck in and tasted with them, but Isabel took us to a room near the entry showroom and proceeded with a phenomenal private presentation and wine tasting including Macià Batle “deli” products like spicy marmalade, olive spreads and oils, as well as paté and Mallorcan Sobresada sausage on Mallorcan Quelly biscuits to help open our palates!

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Our advice? Don’t miss this winery. At the time of this posting there is a charge of $10.00 per person for “tour and tasting with delicatessen,” well worth the cost.  We thoroughly enjoyed the extensive and informational experience, and loved these good wines with distinct character and structure.

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How to get there: Macia batle map
Take the Santa Maria exit from the Autopista Palma-Inca and after winding through the town- head in direction  Consell. You can not miss the beautiful architecture of this bodega on your left hand side as you leave Santa Maria del Cami town.

See Wines Tasted at Macia Batle: Click here

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