Good News For Santanyí

Son Alegre, DO Pla i Llevant

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.

Son Alegre, DO Pla i Llevant 1

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:

logo-pla-i-llevant

Patience is the name of the game, especially in the art of wine making.

Cheers.

We Have a Winner

Vinyes Son Alegre SL has once more followed its tradition of instigating a creative competition for the design of its current wine labels. The contest was launched in partnership with the Ajuntament de Santanyí, the Cultural Association Lausa and the Cultural Association of Calonge, Es Mayoral. The event was open for all artists over the age of 18, local, national and international. Design labels were sought for the new wines under the names of Penya Bosca (for the Red wine), Roca Fesa (for the Rosé wine) and Es Faralló (for the White wine). This year’s design challenge was won in all three categories by local Santanyí artist, Llorenç Vidal Lledó, better known by his artist’s name, Garrit.

Llorenç_Garrit

Enhorabuena, Garrit. Congratulations.

The bodega Vinyes Son Alegre SL is a young enterprise practising organic and biodynamic agriculture on the outskirts of Santanyí. We grow grapes, olives, almonds, carob and Xeixa wheat according to the principles of the Consell Balear de la Producció Agrària Ecològica and the European Union organic farming standards. Our wines thus continue in the tradition of quality wine making that has been practised in Santanyí over centuries but, sadly, was discontinued in 1895 due to the devastating effects of the Phylloxera vine pest.

We name our wines, such as Picarol, Sant Andreu, Sa Porta Murada, Es Pontàs, Sa Cala, S’Antigor, S’Aragal Blau, Cocó Barber or Penya Bosca, to name but a few, paying homage and tribute to local people, geographic landmarks, historic dates or other phenomena particular to our region in order to demonstrate our geographic, cultural and social roots here, in the Santanyí area and community.

Artists who have helped us design our wine labels in the past have included Jesús Pablo Camargo del Hoyo, Aina Noguera Tugores, Vera Edwards and Elena Sierra Forteza. We welcome Garrit (Llorenç Vidal Lledó) into our family of collaborators and friends and are looking forward to next year’s wine label competition, going then into its third year.

Salut.

The New Son Alegre Wine Cellar

Camp den Ventura-Vats

We have recently established our own bodega (wine cellar). Since the harvest in August 2015 we have been vinifying, fermenting and creating our Son Alegre organic wines in our own wine cellar, which we share with our sister company Camp d’en Ventura in Calonge (Santanyí).

We have had ultra-modern stainless steel tanks built to order for us with a capacity of 1250, 1800, 2150 and 3500 litres. The vats are equipped with individual internal temperature control systems. The grape harvest at Son Alegre is always performed manually. At the new wine cellar, the grapes were carefully selected by hand, before being pressed by hydraulic means and stored in separate tanks, according to grape variety and location.

Bodega Son Alegre_04

We continue to benefit from the expertise of our good friend Luis Armero González from Bodega Armero i Adrover in Felanitx, who is the oenologist for all our Son Alegre organic wines. Luis Armero is considered to be one of the pioneers of contemporary Mallorcan wine. His work and his wines are always subject to environmental considerations.

Our collaboration with Luis Armero began in 2008 and we are proud of the wines that we have since brought to the market with his help. We are very grateful to Luis for the tireless work and enthusiasm that he has dedicated to our wines so far, as well as for his commitment and passion.

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Our new white wine Es Faralló 2015 and our new rosé wine Roca Fesa 2015 should be ready for consumption any time soon and will be bottled before long; they are both expected to come to the market by the end of March or the beginning of April 2016.

Our new red wine Tricentenari 2014 should also come to the market soon. This wine was elaborated at the bodega of Armero i Adrover in Felanitx, with a fermentation process of 6 months in stainless steel tanks, an ageing period of 6 months in French oak barrels and a resting phase of 9 months in the bottle.

Bodega Son Alegre_02

Salut.

Tree Hugging in Santanyí

Hug a tree or, even better, plant a tree. That’s the motto of Tu Bishvat, the Jewish New Year for Trees. Tu Bishvat is one of the four Jewish new years (Rosh Hashanahs), and this year’s Tu Bishvat is marked for today, January 24th. As always, festivities start with nightfall on the day before, i. e. Tu Bishvat already started last night after sun down. The tree day marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. As it happens, here in Mallorca the New Year for Trees coincides pretty much with the almond blossom season which now is at the brink of breaking into full gear. And you don’t have to be Jewish to join in the celebrations, or the tree hugging.

The Jewish festival of Tu Bishvat always coincides with the full moon. January’s full moon in Mallorca could be admired last night, and yet again we were blessed with another lovely lunar sight. It will probably be a splendid sight again tonight, all going well.

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We are planning to do some tree hugging on our land today, at Son Alegre. If you want to join us, feel free to come along. We will also plant a tree today, a pomegranate tree (Punica granatum). Of course you could hug any tree today, anywhere in Mallorca; it doesn’t even have to be your own tree. Any tree will do, anywhere. And any faith will do; trees don’t mind if you are Jewish, Catholic or Muslim, you might even be agnostic. That’s quite alright for trees as well.

Should you be inclined to plant a tree on your own land, here are some suggestions. Depending on your garden or the size of land that you have available you could plant a young orange or lemon tree. Or an almond tree, to keep in with the spirit of the season. We would, however, recommend a pomegranate tree (Punica granatum) which grows fast, gives a lovely flower and produces a very healthy fruit. An olive tree would also be a nice choice but, the olive is relatively slow in growing to full maturity. Or, why not plant a tamarisk tree (Tamarix gallica) which has a delightful pink flower and is ever so pleasing to the eye.  You will see its flowers coming out any time soon, in March and April. Anyway, the second half of January is a perfect time for tree planting of whatever kind so, don’t be shy. And if  no tree planting is possible, don’t despair. Just hug a tree. Or two.

Happy New Year of the Trees, everybody.

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And thank you John Hinde for the photographs, as always.

The Second International Wine Label Design Competition

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Vinyes Son Alegre SL is pleased to announce the Second International Design Competition for Wines from Santanyí. Three designs will be selected from all entries for Red, Rosé and White wines under the names of Penya Bosca (for the Red wine), Roca Fesa (for the Rosé) and Es Faralló (for the White wine). Each of the winning designs will be awarded the sum of 700 €. The contest is open to all artists over the age of 18 regardless of their nationality or their place of residence. The deadline for entries to the competition is December 31st, 2015, at 13:00 hours.

The competition winners will be announced during the celebrations of next year’s Festes de Sant Sebastià in Santanyí, Mallorca (January 20th, 2016).

The detailed rules of the competition can be found in a pdf-document which can be downloaded here in English, Spanish, Catalan or German.

Good luck to everyone.

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Sa Penya Bosca is the name of the highest elevation within the municipality of Santanyí (280 m) just outside s’Alqueria Blanca which forms part of the Serres de Llevant mountains. Sa Penya Bosca is composed of a gentle hillside with a steep rock face on its northern side and a lush forest of Mediterranean pine and oak trees.

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The Torre Nova defense tower in Cala Santanyí was built during the mid 17th century on top of an impressive cliff face known by the name of Sa Roca Fesa made of a Calcarenite type of limestone. The rocks come in a pleasant range of colour with tones of red, beige and yellow, quite similar to the colour of the Pedra de Santanyí extracted of the same rock type.

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Es Faralló defines a biggish single rock surrounded by the sea. There are many Farallos or small illots in Mallorcan waters but only two exist in Santanyí, the best known of which is found on the coast near s’Almunia.

Suum cuique.

One Of The Most Innovative And Craziest Viticulture Projects

abc mallorca

Our friends from abc Mallorca Magazine have done it again. A long and informative article on the town of Santanyí was published recently including a friendly recognition of Son Alegre and its wines.

One of the most innovative and craziest viticulture projects is currently under construction in Santanyí. The young winery has been subjected to biodynamic principles. Living with nature is not just lip service for Miquel Manresa. Commercially run vineyards are ploughed and ploughed: the vines shall not compete with other plants.

The Son Alegre soil, however, is not artificially changed. Respect for life of any kind is the most important thing. Every wild flower, every worm, every bee, and a variety of insects contribute to the circle of life. The vines are just a part of it. The principle is: “Leave nature undisturbed in the best possible way.” The sporadic watering for the plants comes from private wells. Electricity is produced by solar panels without CO2 emissions. Everything is well organised and gets back to the roots of winemaking……

In case you are interested in the complete article, here is a link:

abc Mallorca – Son Alegre Wine Cellar

We want to say thank you for the compliments.

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Of course you will probably know that we do not only produce wine but also, olive oil, flour, almonds and carob. Yes, we are crazy but by the looks of it you seem to love what we are doing. And so do we.

¡Salut!

The Cycle of Life

Son Alegre 001

Autumn is usually the busiest time of the year for us here at Son Alegre.

You might think of us as a wine maker but that is only half the story. We do cultivate grapes for our organic Son Alegre wines and we finished harvesting the red grapes a week or ten days ago, that is the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot, the Syrah and the Petit Verdot grapes. But we also grow olives for our SILEO Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the harvest of this year’s crop is about to take place within the next week or ten days.

Son Alegre 05

We also grow almonds. We grow carob fruits. And now is the time for their harvest. And we grow Xeixa, an ancient, indigenous Mallorcan wheat, as well as Blat Mort, which we use for animal feed. Our cereals, we harvest twice a year, so autumn is not the only busy time we have. Everything we grow is grown organically and under biodynamic conditions. We do not yet have the certificate of DEMETER (International Demeter Processing Standards) but we are aiming for it in the long run. All our crop is, however, controlled by CBPAE (Consell Balear Regulador de l’Agricltura Ecològica, the Balearic Council of Organic Agricultural Production).

Son Alegre 01

We also keep bees. We raise sheep. We rear pigs. And we breed goats. We don’t sell our livestock, so there is no control necessary by the official authorities. We don’t eat our animals either, just in case you wondered. We simply enjoy having critters on our land. We do get them to do their bit by helping us fertilize the soil and make them earn their upkeep by making them work our land. To be honest, they almost work harder than we do ourselves.

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We try to nurture wildlife on our land as much as possible and encourage insects, beetles, spiders, ants, snails, butterflies and birds, plus millions of unnamed tiny creatures and creepy-crawlies, some of them unrecognized, undiscovered and unnamed as yet, to come and settle on our land to help us with our agricultural efforts. They too, and that is all of them, have their busiest time of year just now, getting ready to prepare the land, the soil and the underworld for the winter season when everything and everybody gets ready for the new cycle of life that our land, and nature in general, is about to start soon. Year after year after year.

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Time to say thank you to all our little helpers. Or gràcies, as it were. Without our unpaid helpers, there would be no wine, no oil and no Son Alegre, nothing. That’s a fact.

And thank you to John Hinde for taking all the photos on our land, shown here and in many other of our blog entries. Cheers.

Tomás Con Gas Performing At Cala Sa Nau

At Vinyes Son Alegre, we are not just wine lovers. We are not just friends of all things natural and organic, of wildlife, trees, plants and insects. We also pride ourselves in being sympathetic to and supportive of all things cultural and creative.

Llorenç Garrit

For instance, we are proud sponsors of the annual Festival Internacional de Música Vila de Santanyí which just came to the end of this year’s edition last Saturday. The IVth edition is being prepared for 2016 and we will be proud to collaborate again, should we be asked.

Festival Internacional de Música de Santanyí

We help Mallorcan musicians to perform their acts whenever we can just as we support local poets, writers, glosadors, painters, artists in general and the creative world as such.

Glosadors de Mallorca

Next Friday, September 18th, at 19:30 h, for instance, Vinyes Son Alegre is proud to sponsor Tomás Con Gas at Cala Sa Nau to celebrate the First Quarter of this year’s September moon. Ok, that’s not quite correct, as the proper moon phase will be three days later, on September 21st (at 10h59). But still, we should get an almost true visual impression on Friday night. Anyway, Tomás Con Gas is an act consisting of Tomás Graves and Angus Pollard from Montuïri. This time they have invited Steve Lambert to join them on his guitar.

TOMAS CON GAS

Admission to the concert gig is free. Our Son Alegre white and rosé wines will be served  at 3 € a glass (sorry, our red wines have all been sold out; our Tricentenari Negre 2014 will not be ready until the end of this year).

Whilst at the beach of Cala Sa Nau, we would expect you to respect nature and the environment.

Tomas con Gas_web

Enjoy the music. Please drink in moderation. And, don’t drink and drive.

¡Salut!

The Start of This Year’s Wine Harvest

vindimia

Earlier this week, we started the wine harvest at Son Alegre in Santanyí. In the lead-up to yesterday’s August Full Moon we harvested our white grape – Chardonnay, the French grape variety. The grape picking started at sunrise in the early hours of the morning to avoid the hot temperatures later in the day.

We shall harvest our Malvasía grapes, the traditional Mallorcan variety, in a few days time.

Our red grape varieties, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Viognier, will probably be harvested during the second half of September, depending on nature, the grapes’ state of maturation, the weather, and good fortune.

Chardonnay grapes

This year we celebrated the sixth year of wine harvest at Son Alegre. All our vines were planted in 2004 and in 2010 we were able to harvest our first grapes.

We will be processing our new wines in our very own bodega for the first time ever, hooray. More about that in a separate blog entry.

Salut. Y hasta la vista.

One of Mallorca’s 101 Best Wines

101 Best Wines 2

We are pleased and honoured to have one of our wines, Sa Porta Murada 2011, nominated as one of the 101 best wines of Mallorca. This organic wine is made of the Merlot grape grown on vines of an age of 7 years and is denominated as Vi de la Terra Mallorca. The wine was cultivated according to EU organic farming standards following some biodynamic principles. It was aged for 6 months in stainless steel tanks, 12 months in French oak barrels and a further 12 months in the bottle.

The nomination is part of abcMallorca’s 1st Wine Guide, a guide to 101 Best Wines of Mallorca which was published online and as a printed press magazine only a week ago. It retails at the larger newsagents in Mallorca for 6,95 €. If you are interested in the variety of current Mallorcan wine, this is the wine guide you should consult.

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The magazine’s collaborator, Stephen Nickel, characterizes our Sa Porta Murada negre as follows:

A light cherry-coloured wine pours into the glass. The bouquet is exceptionally floral, with a little touch of herbs. The effect on the palate is fresh, with many fruity flavours. Even the finish in the mouth maintains this freshness.

Beautiful, fresh full-flavoured Merlot.

Sa Porta Murada

Unfortunately, our thus honoured wine is no longer available. Only 300 bottles were produced and they have now sold out. Sorry, but we are only a small vineyard. But still, we are happy and delighted that our oenological endeavours are being recognised by some wine connoisseurs.

If you would want to try one of our red wines of a comparable characteristic, why not try our S’Antigor 2012. This red wine is made from the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties, at a ratio of 50:50. Again, this is an organic wine categorized as a Vi de la Terra Mallorca and has been cultivated according to EU organic farming standards following some biodynamic principles. This wine, too, was aged for 6 months in stainless steel tanks, 12 months in French oak barrels and, again, for 12 months in the bottle. Its alcohol content is 15% vol. The wine was bottled in March 2014. Its colour has tones of dark red cherry. Its nose has a full earthiness with lots of character. Its palate is pleasant, with an edge of nobility.

The wine is best served at 15º. 

The S’Antigor 2012 wine will age well over 6 to 10 years.

The good news is that we have produced 2,000 bottles of this wine, and sufficient numbers are still available.

Cheers.

Paying Tribute to World Environment Day

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Every year since 1972, the world has celebrated World Environment Day on June 5th, which is today. The aim of this commemoration is to raise global awareness, to take positive environmental action and to protect Nature and planet Earth. This year’s motto is Sustainable Consumption and Production.

We are all part of the environment, we live in it and we live from it. Sadly, we often forget that we also depend on it. We all depend on the land, the water, the air, the nature and the holistic interaction of it all.

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At Son Alegre, we have some 50 hectares of land. On it, we have planted over 1,000 olive trees, a few dozen carob trees and about 20,000 vines. We have also sown Santanyí Xeixa wheat as well as some barley and legumes as our own natural animal feed. We have 60 sheep and a dozen Mallorcan goats on our land. Everything is organic. We want to continue to plant more olive trees and more vines. At the moment, we produce wine, olive oil and flour. As farmers, we try to follow organic standards, some of them based on the principles of biodynamic agriculture. We aim to adhere to the principles of Natural Farming. Our principle is to leave Nature undisturbed in the best possible way.

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We see Mallorca as a big garden, a massive orchard. If this garden were no longer to exist there would not be nothing at all. The tourist industry should see that we are all sitting in the same boat. It would be nice and important if some of the resources generated by tourism would be reinvested in our Mallorca garden. Perhaps the next government will indeed reintroduce a Green Tax for the benefit of environmental causes. By the time our agricultural products reach the end consumer there is all too often no margin left for the producers. The farmers of Mallorca have almost disappeared because parents want their children to go off to do different things and earn more money than they could earn in agriculture. Now our land in Mallorca is devoid of people; this proves to be wrong and this we have to change.

Earty Day Mallorca -2-2

Some 12 million tourists come to Mallorca every year and still, we cannot sell our almonds to them. With the almonds we could do so much and with the carob too. We have no sense of valuing what we have and where we live. If only we could sit in a plane and see our island from above, we would surely marvel and value this land. It is time for tourism to join forces with the rural world and its products. That is the solution to revive farming and the land.

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In the absence of any general profitability of farming land, some form of public funding would encourage young people to stay on and work the land. This could fulfill an important function. The future of the our land is in the hands of young people, and some financial incentive would allow young farmers to get ahead of the game.

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For hundreds of years, this island of Mallorca has been in harmony with Nature, its inhabitants and its wildlife. Now, things have become unbalanced. The time has come to protect Nature and the environment as best we can. It is our duty to look after our land and our soil, by acting in a responsible and sustainable way. It is time for us to give back to Nature what she has given to us and our ancestors. If and when we look after our land and maintain the garden of Mallorca, our children and future generations will benefit from the fruits of the land. If we don’t, our children will know who to blame.

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Participating in the Nit del Vi in Palma

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Last night, we had the great pleasure and honour of introducing our two new 2014 wines, Cocó Barber white and S’Aragall Blau rosé, to the public in Palma de Mallorca. It was the first time ever that we participated in a trade event in our island capital.

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The occasion was the 9th Nit del Vi, an annual presentation of great wines from small vineyards, organized by Petits Cellers and Wines of Mallorca.

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We joined another 32 bodegas from all over the island offering tastings of some 160 wines from recent vintages. Our wines are the only ones from the region of Santanyí.

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Our two new wines were well received by a well informed public from Mallorca, the Spanish mainland and also a surprisingly large number of visitors from an international background, such as Germany, the UK, Scandinavia and even New Zealand, to name but a few.

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We shared a table with Luis Armero from Armero i Adrover in Felanitx but we might have our own stall this time next year. We’ll see.

Thank you, Luis.