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Mallorca's Wine Boom

Published:  26 May, 2017

A boom in wine in Mallorca has led the island’s producers to seek new export destinations including Britain. A new wave of multi-million euro investments in new vineyards and spectacular contemporary wineries, largely from outside investors, means there is a whole new generation of wine coming onto the market on the Mediterranean Island.

Less than twenty years ago, wine from Mallorca was barely known, but now, with more than 70 wine producers and growers, the island has been transformed into the latest wine powerhouse of Spain.

One big newcomer is producer Can Axartell. Its newly released wines, including the Tinto Dos 2013, a blend of Callet, a local grape variety and Pinot Noir, Syrah and Merlot, were on show for the first time in the UK at this week’s London Wine Fair (LWF).

“We are producing 100,000 bottles, but in four or five years we will have 400,000 bottles to sell, so we are looking for new export markets,” said Agusti Mascaro, commercial director at Can Axartell.

Can Axartell’s German Owner, Hans Peter Schwarzkopf, a former shampoo and cosmetics entrepreneur, has invested €6 million (£5.2m) in the vineyard’s new winery where the gravity method is used to make wine. The winery has been built with glass and steel on four floors carved out of a mountain in Pollensa, in the north of Mallorca.

Schwarzkopf has planted 60 hectares of organically grown grapes with 35 hectares of Petit Verdot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Merlot planted around the winery and a further 25 hectares of local grape variety in Felanitx in the centre of the island. Petit Verdot is now authorised for generic table wines and Schwarzkopf is pushing for the variety to be authorised in Mallorca’s in the PDO appellation, Pla i Levant.

The wine boom in Mallorca, has attracted French oenologist Patrick Leon, the former winemaker at Mouton Rothschild, to make Bordeaux blends at Sol Mayol, whose production is expanding from 7,000 bottles to 350,000 bottles much of which will go to exports. Son Mayol’s new underground state-of the-art winery north of Palma, funded by Swiss investors, which also uses the gravity method for its wine production, was opened last Autumn. Further exports are expected to come from German producer, Peter Eisenmann, who has invested heavily at the Es Fangar vineyard near Felanitx in the South Eastern reaches of the island to make blends from local and international varieties with production expected to reach beyond 300,000 bottles annually.

Tens of millions of wine investment in Mallorca was made prior to the EU deregulation of vine plantings rights that came into force last January. Under the rules new vine plantings cannot exceed 1% of each EU member states existing vineyard area.

However the new rules have not deterred further investment plans from outside investors in Mallorca. One producer in Beaujolais, who wished not to be named, told Harpers that it was investing in eight new hectares on the island.

Meanwhile, Araceli Servera Oliver, oenologist and owner at Mallorca’s oldest producer Bodegues Ribas, says she is planning to present wines from Ribas in London next year. Ribas already exports to Sweden, Germany and Switzerland.

“It is madness here: over the past three months ahead of the summer season, our white wines have already sold out. There is a tremendous demand for Mallorcan wines; where as before local and tourists drank both wine from mainland Spain and local wine, wine from Mallorca has taken over in the restaurants and bars,” Servera Oliver told Harpers.

Whilst outside investors have planted international grape varieties and local varieties, Ribas, who has rescued the almost extinct Gorgollassa grape variety, is now immersed in grubbing up some of its international varieties to increase production of local grape varieties.

Francesc Grimalt, owner of producer 4 Kilos, whose wines are distributed in the UK by Indigo Wines, says the new wave of investment and growth in producers on the island has come about because wine from Mallorca is in vogue with a surge in demand coming from both local islanders and international tourists. The growth in production and wineries in Mallorca has led to a new diversity in styles and production methods.

As well as the artisanal wines of producer 4 Kilos, local winemaker Eloi Cedo is making natural wines at Château Paquita.