To talk about wine in Mallorca is to learn about our heritage, culture, tradition, gastronomy and landscape… today we propose a walk through the history of wine on the island up to the present day, to discover why our wines cannot be compared with those of other regions and why they make the island an ideal place for wine tourism.
THE WINES OF MALLORCA, A PAST WITH HISTORY
There is evidence that as far back as the 6th and 7th centuries BC, the prehistoric Mallorca of the famous Balearic slingers traded in this product, although it was not until the Roman conquest (123 BC) that vine cultivation was introduced in Mallorca. In the 1st century BC, the Roman historian Pliny the Elder, in his encyclopaedia “Naturalis Historia”, states that the wines of the islands were comparable to the best in Italy.
After the Muslim conquest (903), despite the prohibition of wine in Koranic culture, the vine continued to be cultivated and wine was produced, even applying new and sophisticated cultivation and irrigation systems, as is indicated in the Italian epic “Liber maiolichinus” which describes the Pisan-Catalan crusade against the islands under Muslim rule in the 12th century and mentions that the Christians “quenched their thirst with the wine of the Saracens…”.
It was with the Christian conquest (1229) that King Jaume I granted licences to grow vines and wine production became one of the most important economic activities up to the present day, going through moments of splendour and others of decline, such as when in 1862 phylloxera attacked European vineyards, and Mallorca experienced its period of greatest splendour due to the great demand for wines from unaffected regions, until in 1891 the plague reached the island and caused the market to come to a standstill. It was then that many vineyards were replaced by other crops, mainly almond trees.
In the 20th century, the replanting of vines began, although production and trade was affected by national and international conflicts and the beginning of tourism, which preferred to import wines from mainland Spain, until the 1990s, when a slow but gradual recovery of the sector took place and today Mallorcan wines are of a high quality and are recognised by experts.
A PRESENT WITH A FUTURE
Today in Mallorca there are more than 70 wineries, more than 500 brands of wine, two designations of origin and other geographical indications, although it is the native varieties that are the great oenological treasure of our wines.
In the centre of the island is the Binissalem D.O. region, a geography of gentle relief, protected from the cold north winds by the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range. It is made up of 13 wineries spread over 5 municipalities. Its most prized wines are reds with at least 30% of the native variety Mantonegro, which produces light-bodied wines with fruity aromas that evolve into jammy ones, and whites produced with 50% of the native variety Premsal Blanc (also known as Moll), which produces fruity, fresh and balanced wines. The cultivation of this last variety has spread throughout the peninsula.
Wine plays a starring role in the region’s traditional festivals, such as the Festes des Vermar (grape harvest festival) held every September (you must try the vermar noodles, of course, accompanied by a glass of wine). Also in May, an international event is held, Wine Days Mallorca, which includes open-door programmes, markets, tastings and the best informal gastronomy from local food-trucks.
D.O. PLA I LLEVANT
Nowadays the D.O. Pla i Llevant is spread over 19 municipalities, has 13 wineries and more than 70 winegrowers. The vines grow practically at sea level and produce red, white, rosé and sparkling wines. In addition to the native varieties already mentioned, this region also produces wines with other native red varieties such as Callet, a survivor of phylloxera, Fogoneu, which produces elegant wines and has recently recovered the red variety Gorgollasa, which was about to disappear and produces light, fruity wines, and the pre-phylloxera white variety Giro Ros, which produces high quality wines with a high alcohol content.
WINES FROM THE LAND
In addition to the aforementioned D.O.’s, Mallorcan wines are identified in 3 distinct geographical indications: Vino de la Tierra de Mallorca, which produces wines with native and international grapes grown entirely in Mallorca, Vino de la Tierra Serra de Tramuntana-Costa Nord produced in the most rugged area of the island, from Andratx to Pollença, where the production of Malvasia wines, a dry white wine whose vines grow on terraces by the sea, and Vino de la Tierra Illes Balears stand out.
Mallorcan wines have their own character, although our vineyards, like those of other regions, are suffering the consequences of climate change, which is why regenerative viticulture is being applied in more and more areas of the island, focused on recovering the life and minerals of the soil. Discover with your local guide more Mallorcan products and create your route with gastronomic experiences and wine tasting in wineries. We are waiting for you!