Balearic Islands: wine made with sun and water
ine is sunlight, held together by water’. Galileo Galilei’s affirmation perfectly describes the Balearic Island wines. In this archipelago, in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the sun shines 300 days a year and is ideal for growing grapes.
Mallorca is the largest island and it is the one with the longest wine-making tradition. They started to grow grapes in about 123 B.C. when the Phoenician and Greek sailors used to moor their ships on the island. Under the dominion of the Roman Empire the consumption of wine greatly increased and Mallorca became one of the most important production regions, exporting its wine to other territories of the Empire. A success story that lasted for over 2,000 years, even managing to circumvent the prohibitions imposed by the Arabs, until the 19th century, when the phylloxera destroyed many of the vineyards on the island. This type of mosquito had such terrible effects that it took 100 years to re-establish wine production.
Menorca also wants to be a wine producer
The Binifadet vineyards are in Sant Lluis, in the south of Menorca. The winery entered into operation in 2004 and today it is capable of producing just over 100,000 bottles a year. Visitors are welcome from April to November, when guided tours and wine tasting events are organised.
In the 1980s, wine made in Mallorca picked up where it had left off centuries earlier, though today the process is supported by new technical resources for harvesting, producing and distributing the product. At present, the Balearic Islands are starting to make themselves known on the Spanish wine-making map thanks to the energy of young producers. This is the case of 4Kilos Vinícola, created in 2006 by Francesc Grimalt, responsible for rescuing the Callet grape variety, and Sergio Caballero, one of the co-founders of the Sónar Festival. They began their adventure in a grape-growing friend’s garage and with limited resources they managed to create 4Kilos 2006, which marketed wine for the first time in 2008. Their vineyards are located in several municipalities in the north and south of the island; consequently they do not belong to a DO (Designation of Origin).
Bárbara Mesquida is behind another of the projects that is emerging on the island. She is a member of the fourth generation of a wine-making family and in 2012 she embarked on her new adventure with her brother, under the label of Mesquida Mora. They believe in biodynamic agriculture to achieve healthy soil. Their wines –reds, whites and rosé– are marketed as Vinos de la Tierra de Mallorca (Mallorca Regional Wine).
In addition to the different labels of Vinos de la Tierra, the Balearic Islands has two DO: Binissalem and Pla i Llevant (both in Mallorca). The former brings together several wineries located in the centre of the island, where three types of grapes are usually grown: Manto negro, Callet and Moll. The wineries that belong to this DO include Antonio Nadal, José Luis Ferrer, Jaume de Puntiró and Celler Albaflor Vins Nadal.
On the other hand, Pla i Llevant groups together 18 municipalities and 13 wineries and 67 viticulturists have been registered, giving a total of 444 hectares of vineyards. The best-known are Miquel Gilabert, Finca Es Fangar and Bodegas Bordoy. The climate in this region is typically Mediterranean, with mild winters and hot summers. The vineyards are found in the south of the island and are situated at a height of less than 100 metres, nearly at sea level. Balearic Island wines are made with sun and water. Just as Galileo said.