Sometimes bureaucracy is just that, cracy, or should we spell that crazy?
When the winemakers of the central region of Mallorca, an area known as the Pla, decided in 1999 to create their own DO (Denominación de Origen), there only were vintners in Petra, Sineu, Algaïda, Ariany, Maria de la Salut, Sant Joan, Santa Margalida and Muro who cultivated vines, harvested grapes and proceeded with the art of wine making. An invitation was extended to their colleagues of the East and the South of the island, and Capdepera, Artà, Llucmajor, Campos, Porreres, Manacor, Montuïri and Felanitx were included in the new DOP (protected designation of origin), or DO for short, called DO Pla i Llevant. Somehow, the region of Santanyí managed to be left out, even though it plainly belongs to the Llevant region, simply for the fact that since 1895, nobody had embarked on the challenge of producing wine in this area. Ever since the new millenia, the DO Pla i Llevant, as it is called formally and officially in good old Catalan, has been busy producing wine, and quite successfully so, without ever giving another thought to the people or the region of Santanyí.
Well, things started to change in 2002, but ever so slowly. A young man from Santanyí, grandson and great-grandson of farmers, bought a sizeable piece of land, some 51 hectares, planted 1,000 olive trees, sowed plenty of autochthonous Xeixa wheat and converted a 5 ha piece of the newly acquired estate into what it had been a hundred years before, a vinya (vinyard). Some 12,000 vine rootstocks were lovingly put in the ground, mainly bearing grapes of the Chardonnay and Malvasía varieties, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
You can’t buy some land and plant some vines and expect to be included in a protected designation of origin, you can only do that for a protectable product. And wine making is a slow business. It takes three years before you see the first grapes to speak of and another one or two, before you have any sizeable harvest. In the case of Son Alegre, the first proper harvest was made in 2008 and the first wine came to be bottled in 2010. Now we are into our sixth year and hence, an application has been lodged with the good people of the DO Pla i Llevant during the summer of 2015.
But not so fast, please. Everything in Europe these days has to pass the critical eyes of the mandarins in Brussels. Before an application can even be made to the European Commission, the local authorities have to give their consent first. We are pleased to let you know that the Consejo Regulador de la Denominación de Origen Pla i Llevant submitted Son Alegre’s request to be included to the proper Mallorcan authorities. On January 11th, 2016, the BOIB (Boletín Oficial de las Islas Balears) published the decision of the Consell Insular de Mallorca and its esteemed Dirección General de Agricultura y Ganadería to include Santanyí in the aforementioned DO Pla i Llevant.
Not quite there yet.
Any publication in the BOIB, an organ of the much lauded Govern de les Illes Balears, only comes into effect if nobody lodges any opposition to the new rule and regulation. A period of two months is allocated for any such protestation and we believe the crucial date to be yesterday, March 11th. As far as we know, no-one has lodged any complaint. That means that the whole package of submission and suplication is now on its way to Brussels, or should be any time soon. With a bit of luck, in another year or perhaps two we might be finally allowed to use the seal of approval of designation of origin or in Catalan, the Denominación de Origen of the Pla i Llevant.
This is what it will look like when we finally get it:
Patience is the name of the game, especially in the art of wine making.