Mallorca’s Wines

wines of Mallorca

Today’s post is by Martin Ward from Wine Educators International, our partner in Mallorca Hiking’s walking and wine tours:

So, as we are well into summer and it’s been very hot, dry and sunny… the last few summers have given us record temperatures; spare a thought for Mallorca’s vines as they bake, rather than bask or bathe, in the sun.

We might think that vines, like us, love nothing better than a long hot summer but this is not actually the case as they are fickle, demanding plants.  If you contrast the arid dryness of Mallorca’s Binissalem D.O. with some other, cooler, classic parts of the wine world, for example – Champagne, Germany or New Zealand to mention but a few, we can be perceived as simply too hot.  It’s the same in many places on the peninsula and in Lanzarote, where it regularly exceeds 40ºC.

Thank goodness we are a small island and we have some counterbalancing breezes to cool things down a little!  So, our temperamental vines like summer ‘warmth’, a little rain (at the right times and not torrential), cool winters, just a pocito of frost, breeze (but not high winds)…. you start to get the picture.

Having said this, it’s amazing that we have quite dramatic differences in the microclimates of our vineyard areas.  We have the two official D.O. regions of Binissalem & Pla I Llevant but also vineyards that do not fall into either of the demarcated, geographic areas, like the lovely Son Puig near Puigpunyent (where of course we offer a very special Walking & Wine Excursion – Puigpunyent).wine growing in Mallorca

This means that the harvest for the charming Isabel, her father Raimundo and family at Son Puig can sometimes be several weeks later than that of say, Bodegues Ribas in Consell where Araceli and her family often pick as early as the end of August or beginning of September (and here at Ribas, we can even arrange for you to spend a day helping with the harvest – hard work but a very enjoyable day and a fantastic experience!)

Mallorca’s grapes may sometimes reflect those of the peninsula in terms of style with Tempranillo; quite often they are international in flavour with Merlot, Syrah (Sira), plus Cabernet & Chardonnay BUT we also have the wonderful, indigenous varieties that make the island special.  Why not try some of the wines that showcase these – Mantonegro, Callet plus Fogoneu and Gargollasa for the reds and Premsal for the whites….. My favourite white for this time of the year is Son Puig Planco, which is Chardonnay + Premsal and it just happens to have won a Silver Medal in the prestigious Concours Mundial Bruxelles!

Better still, come and join us on one of our itineraries in the vineyards, taste the wines with us, and maybe even meet the winemaker…

We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

Mallorca’s gastronomy during hiking (part two)

jamon serrano

In our last blog post we where talking about what to bring when you go for a walk and giving suggestions and tips on delicious local food and products. Here comes the continuation on the same topic.

Pa amb oli” is the way local people from Mallorca call a slice of bread with tomatoes, olive oil and salt. This is the local sandwich base, which can be topped with other food or eaten directly as the 4 ingredients are already very tasteful. The best thing to do while hiking is to prepare it during one of our stops: cut some bread slices with a foldable knife, cut some tomato slices (the tomato should be a big one!) and then add virgin olive oil (local gold) and salt. A fresh “pa amb oli” is something that all locals go mad about!!

Dry cured cuts of meat are among the best toppings to a “pa amb oli”. Typical dry cured meat from Mallorca is made of pork meat, salt and spices. The most popular types that are eaten without cooking are sobrassada (orange soft paste that can be directly spread on a bread slice or bread cookie), paté (orange soft paste made of pork libber that can also be spread on a bread slice or bread cookie) and camaiot (grey and white color, cut in slices). These are the fatty and “unhealthy” part of the meal, but in small quantities they are just delicious if you like meat. It is common to also complement the “pa amb oli” with other Spanish dry cured cuts of meat such as Jamón Serrano, fuet, chorizo, salchichón… We recommend you to buy from small producers in order to maximize quality and authenticity. Majorcan cheese

There are many cheese producers in Mallorca, bringing lots of different products to the market. Cow and sheep cheeses are the most usual, though there are some excellent goat cheeses as well. Native red sheep are farmed to produce excellent and original flavors. There are ecologic producers who use traditional methods and reach excellent results (normally a bit more expensive than bigger producers). Curing and aging processes directly affect consistence, texture and taste of each cheese. We do not recommend bringing fresh cheese when hiking unless you bring a well functioning/long lasting cold bag. Cheese is a source of animal fat, protein, vitamins from group A, B and D, as well as minerals like calcium and phosphorus (great for our bones). It must be eaten moderately, but when you are hiking it is always nice to cut some slices with your foldable knife and enjoy its fantastic flavors, alone or combined with a “pa amb oli”.

 

Bakery products from Mallorca, both salty and sweet, normally contain pork fat. They are not healthy products eaten on a regular basis but it can be interesting to bring some of them ‘cause they are delicious and provide a caloric boost that can be needed when you have a long way to walk. “Coques” (sort of cold pizzas with only vegetables on it) with paprika, onion, tomatoes or parsley are crunchy and oily. “Panades” are round pasties filled with cooked lamb meat or bacon, onion and peas. “Cocarrois” are long pasties filled with cooked vegetables, including raisins. These pasties use to be typical Easter food, but nowadays they are baked the whole year around; they are very convenient to bring to an excursion because they last more than other bakery products. If you like sweet stuff (or you are longing for a sugar kick), then you must bring some ensaïmada, a round spiral inflated dough powdered with sugar, sometimes filled with sweetened apricots or other ingredients (cream, chocolate, etc.). There are other typical sweet baked products like “coca de patata”, “bunyols”, “crespells” and “robiols”, but easy on the sugar and fat.

panades

In terms of drinking, we always recommend to drink mineral water (preferably from Mallorcan springs). Freshly squeezed natural orange juice can be sometimes acquired in some hikes as there are some rural houses which prepare them for you in the very moment.

Finally, we sometimes like to bring some local red wine to do a small toast and savor this traditional beverage during our lunch break. But the wine culture in Mallorca is interesting and rich enough to write another blog-post…

Made in Mallorca

made in mallorca hikingThere isn’t nearly enough information produced about the variety of products that are made and sold in, and exported from Mallorca. Mallorca has a history of producing a variety of products, which are all available here on the island for you to discover. Exploring the real Mallorca can start with sampling some of these products. They all contain an essence of the island, whether it’s liquer made from local herbs or perfume made from the flowers of the almond blossom…. Tempted? Then read on:

Many of the island’s products are known only in Spain, however some of them, such as Camper shoes, are now a global brand!

Here’s a sample of some of the ‘home-produced’ items you can buy in Mallorca.

Sobrassada and Botifarró

Pork products form a large part of the Spanish diet and these two delicacies are produced throughout the Balearics. They are well-known and well-loved across the whole of Spain. Essentially, Sobrassada is “sausage meat” made from good quality minced pork combined with spices like paprika, salt and red pepper (which gives it a lovely red colour), which you normally spread on bread. Every producer makes it slightly differently…

Botifarró is the name given to a sausage filled with coarsely ground pork, including liver, and spiced with salt, pepper, herbs and aniseed, which gives it its distinctive flavour. They are delicious, large chunky sausages and perfect for BBQ’s!

Ensaimada

You may have noticed Spanish holiday-makers walking around the airport with large hexagonal boxes. These are used to carry home the ensaimada which is a light, quite sweet pastry usually eaten for breakfast. The dough is made of flour, water, sugar, eggs, mother dough and reduced pork lard called saïm, and shaped into a spiral – it is quite unlike anything you will have tried elsewhere.

Sometimes ensaimadas are filled with angel’s hair (squash jam), custard cream, almond puré, chocolate, sobrassada, apricots, but normally they just have a light dusting of icing sugar – perfect for “dunking” in coffee at breakfast or a mid-morning snack.

Olive Oil

Excellent quality olive oils are produced from the olive farms on the island. Extra virgin olive oils with designation of origin are made from majorquine, arbequina and picual olives and have a wonderful, and very distinctive flavour. Olives and olive oil production will be the subject of a future article, so why not register to follow this blog…?

Wine and Liquers

There are two areas in Mallorca with D.O. – Binissalem (where a festival is held to celebrate the grape harvest every year) and Pla i Llevant. Wine produced in the island has consistenly improved over the decades and can now quite rightfully hold its own alongside the more well known Spanish names. See also our earlier article on Wines of Mallorca.

Two liquers are made on the island: Palo and Hierbas. Palo is a very dark (almost black), dense, thick liquid and made from infusing cinchona bark (quinine) and gentian roots, and caramelised sugar. It has been made in Mallorca since the 19th century. Hierbas, an aniseed drink, is made from infusing and distilling herbs gathered from the island. This is by far the most popular digestive on the island and comes in sweet, dry and medium varieties. Restaurants will often offer you a “chupito” when you’ve finished your meal and order the bill – and this is invariably Hierbas!

Don’t forget that liquids can’t be transported in your hand luggage so either buy your bottles after going through security or get them wrapped carefully in the shop and pack them in your main luggage.

camper shoes mallorcaShoes

The island’s shoe-making industry is based in Inca, Selva and Lluchmajor. These days some of the brands such as Camper and Patricia are well known across Europe. Modern, funky and traditional designs are all produced on the island and the quality of the leather used is well known.

Also made on the island are the canvas “rope” shoes or Espadrilles. Worn over the years by the locals and available in wonderful bright colours, they became popular across Europe in the ’60’s.

There is also another type of Mallorcan open sandal – ever popular with the locals – made from leather and recycled motor tyres! These also now come in funky colours, and with a number of variations on the theme…

Pearls

The imitation pearls made in Mallorca are famous the world over for their close similarity to natural pearls, which cost considerably more! The factory, established over 100 years ago and now producing over 50 million artificial pearls a year, is in the town of Manacor.Mallorca_Pearl_Bracelet

Mother of pearl and ocean substances are used to make the artificial pearl and the process is absolutely fascinating. Enjoy a visit to the factory where you can watch how the pearls are produced, and also take advantage of lower prices in the factory shop.

Don’t expect a bargain though – artificial pearls, such as those cultivated in Manacor, are almost indistinguishable from the real thing so they can be quite pricey.

Pottery and Glass

Pottery and ceramics have been synonymous with Mallorca for centuries. One of the cutest examples of the tradition for pottery is the ‘siurells’. These are little clay whistles produced as far back as the Arab times. Adored by children, they come painted in bright eye-catching colours and can still be bought on the island today. All over the island you will see many examples of Majorcan pottery for sale.

Glassblowing, which originated in Syria and was brought to the Balearics by the Romans, is a craft that still exists on the island to this present day. In places like Lafiore in Valldemossa you can still watch master craftsmen. In Palma there are many small Art Galleries where exquisite examples of this craft can be seen and bought.

Perfume

The perfume Flor d’Ametler (‘almond flower’) is made in Mallorca. The main ingredient is the almond flower, which gives it a distinctive scent. Make sure you look for the flower inside the bottle. Only the authentic perfume has that, copies won’t!

flor de sal mallorcaSalt

Salt is a relatively new product now being produced from salt “farms” mainly around Ses Salines in the southeast of Mallorca. There are 2 excellent producers – Flor de Sal and Llum de Sal – which use high quality sea salt in their products, as well as extracts and essences from Mediterranean plants such as mandarin orange, rosemary, rose and lavender, wine… As the most natural sea salt available, this is a very sought after product and is now exported worldwide.

From the earth..

Natural products like oranges from Soller and Almonds island-wide,  Olives & Olive Oil as well as growing Wine production have all been covered in previous posts, and these describe many diverse products made from these locally grown fruits.

Suffice to say there are some great shopping opportunities when visiting Mallorca – take some of these fabulous products home as presents, souvenirs or just treat yourself to a little Mallorquin luxury. So…. see you in Mallorca soon?