Most travelers just visit of Madrid and Barcelona, especially if you are from Asia or the Americas. Sitting on a tour bus is not my kind of thing. I like to walk the city without someone with a megaphone trying to herd me onto a bus from group photograph to another. You don't get a sense of the people and the culture. I don't want to experience a city through the eyes of a tour guide. I want to experience it myself. Visit the local grocery store, walk the neighborhoods and eat what the mom and pops offer away from the tourist traps. Most Europeans know better. They escape to Palma find peace, tranquility, and good eats in Palma. Palma is on Majorca (you may also find it spelled Mallorca), the largest of the Baeleric Islands that sits off the coast of Barcelona.
Palma is my favorite place in Spain because of Bodegas Son Puig. (Read the interview with the winemaker here) Son Puig, a vineyard in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is one of Spain's best-kept secrets. Visits to the vineyard are by appointment only and boy are you in for a treat. The vineyard has existed since 1597. Yup, the middle ages. If you are lucky to walk within the Manor House, you will invariably find a glass of their proprietary blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, and Callet (an indigenous grape only found in Majorca). As you walk the vineyard, you will understand what makes this vineyard so unique. All the wine that goes into the grapes is produced on the family estate. All the winemaking, management and maintenance is performed by the Alabern family.
The father-daughter team, Raimundo Alabern and Isabel Armenteras, are winemakers who do their best to produce wines that are honest and respectful of the land. As with all great vineyards, it is a hard land to grow grapes in Serra de Tramuntana, as there is little water on the island, forcing the vines deep into the ground. As you walk the grounds, you realize the entire vineyard is bordered by fruit trees. These trees are a clever early warning system by the winemakers to identify potential pestilence.
Isabel is my tour guide. (You can read my interview with her here) She gave up her dream of becoming a journalist to become an engineer and winemaker. Now she is a walking Google database for winemaking. She likes the rest of the family pitches into the back-breaking work of winemaking throughout the year. Below the Manor House is a state-of-the-art winemaking facility. How they managed to get all the steel tanks, laboratory, and winemaking equipment underneath the manor house is a mystery and engineering feat.
I’m here in March, the leaves have already fallen on the vines. There is still plenty of work to do on the estate. They are preparing pruning, mulching, fixing the trellises, staking and anchoring. The work never ends. There is always someone in the family working on the estate.
How is the wine you ask? I had glasses of 2005 Gran Sonpuig, which went perfectly with the Catalan-style stuffed squid we had for lunch. It is a full-bodied wine full of blackberries with soft tannins. It is perhaps the of Tempranillo and Callet that makes Son Puig’s wine so unique. Like Cabernet Franc, it provides structure and earthiness to the wine. The Callet skins of give the wines a purple hue. (If you want to know more about Callet wine grapes, I suggest you read Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson. It’s my go-to reference book on wine grapes.)
I also ate the Estate white and the Blanc Barrica. Both are blends of Chardonnay, Premsal Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc. The Estate White is what you want to have on a hot summers day, fresh notes of pear and citrus are prominent in what is a crisp and light bodied. You want a slice of almond flour gató made by Isabel’s mother. (Mallorca gató is completely made from almond flour and is decadent.) The Blanc Barrica is matured in French oak for six months and pours out into the glass like pale gold. The nose is complex with notes of hay and just a hint of pear. It is surprisingly dry and deep wine that makes it well-balanced and elegant. Imagine having this glass of wine with grilled sea bream and a side of pamboli (it is toasted brown bread with olive oil and ramallet tomatoes, served with cheese or jamón). The complexity of the Blanc Barrica brings out complements the crunchy crunchy toast topped with the tomato I rubbed on to the bread. It is even better with grilled sea bream or smoked salmon. Oh! The smoked salmon enhances the complexity of the Barrica. So much fun for the palate!
You can’t go wrong by making an appointment to visit. If you are going Majorca, Son Puig is a must stop place for wine. If you are traveling with a group of friends and family, wine is best enjoyed by many people. Son Puig does host events for groups. Those of you in the GSMA set should arrange for a visit after the World Congress.
Bodegas Son Puig, S.L.
Finca Son Puig s/n (Ctra.Puigpunyent, km 12'8)
Buzón n° 2 del ayuntamiento
07194 Puigpunyent Mallorca
Tel./Fax: +34 971 61 41 84
Kent is a management consultant who has spent years traveling for work. His refuge is looking for the perfect meal so that he can reproduce it at home with his wife and friends.