Mallorca is to Europe what Bali is to this part of the world: a well-loved, sun-splashed island getaway that offers gorgeous beaches, breathtaking resorts, excellent dining, a dynamic local culture and plenty of nature.
Long a favourite for Europeans, the largest of the Spanish Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean has, for generations, played host to the rich and famous including Chopin, DH Lawrence, Anaïs Nin, Richard Branson, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Jagger — the list goes on.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mallorca also makes some exceptional wines. Vine cultivation on the island began as early as 121 B.C. Pliny the Elder wrote in Natural History that Mallorcan wines were as good as the best wines in Italy. Then phylloxera (a vine-eating louse), wars, and a shift from agriculture to tourism happened, diminishing vines along the way. Today, there are some 70 winemakers in Mallorca, and most of their bottles are consumed locally by tourists.
Wines from Mallorca are rarely exported to Asia, but homegrown wine and spirits retailer Bottles & Bottles have made it possible to drink them here and now, before we can all travel again. Its latest addition, Bodega Son Mayol, is the brainchild of legendary winemaker Patrick Léon, who spent 50 years crafting wines at iconic estates like Château Mouton-Rothschild. A love letter to the beautiful terroir of the Balearic island and classic winemaking techniques of Bordeaux, Bodega Son Mayol counts 60 acres of vineyards across 35 locations and plants only grape varieties from Bordeaux, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. All wines are aged in 100% French oak barrels for 12 to 18 months.
Of the five bottles I’ve tasted, my favourite is the Premier Son Mayol 2017, a blend of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Vinified with low extraction and at low temperatures to preserve its aromas, the full-bodied wine has blackcurrants, blackberries, vanilla and pepper on the nose and goes down silkily with a sweet-spicy finish reminiscent of candied ginger.
Bottles & Bottles have also brought in four vintages of the Grand Vin Son Mayol, which was awarded 95 points for its structure, elegance and long-ageing potential by German wine publication Falstaff Magazine in 2018. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot, the Grand Vin is produced with grapes fermented in wooden tanks in its skin and seeds for a month to obtain the best tannins. The result is a series of full-bodied, highly drinkable wines that unfolds layer upon layer of fruit and spice in each sip.
But the appeal of Bodega Son Mayol goes beyond the contents in its bottles. The Grand Vin Son Mayol labels portray the works of Mallorcan artists, such as sculptor Joan Costa (2017) and multidisciplinary artist Rafa Forteza (2016). The winery also gives back to the terroir and the environment with sustainable practices: its building is equipped with solar panels and facilities to recycle service water.
(Main and featured image: Bodega Son Mayol/Bottles & Bottles)