Island Wine Time
Epicure Magazine|April - May 2021
Vineyards are returning to the pleasure island of Mallorca in a serious way, thanks to new players like Bodega Son Mayol where technical director Marie Barbé oversees a modern Bordeaux-styled estate.
June Lee

Bordeaux native Marie Barbé grew up surrounded by wines, so much so that she chose to immerse herself in oenology studies in Bordeaux, graduating in 2002. Yet her career path was never a mainstream one; her wine projects have led her to New World (Chile) and even New Latitude regions such as Russia and India. Since 2016, the self-described epicurean and dreamer has found her favourite city to live in (so far): Palma de Mallorca, the island capital where she is 15 minutes away from her current role as technical director of Bodega Son Mayol.

With just 70 producers on the island, it’s a rare thing to find Mallorca wine outside of Spain, so it is testimony to Bodega Son Mayol’s reputation and no-expense-spared start that it has already been picked up for distribution in Singapore by Bottles & Bottles. Barbé sheds more insights into how the estate has achieved so much since it started in 2008.

THE ROOTS OF THE STORY

With its enviable location in the Mediterranean trade route, Mallorca has thrived under centuries of rule by Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, and finally the Kingdom of Aragon, under which it became part of the Catalan empire. Wines flourished up till the 1890s, when the phylloxera louse killed off most of the 30,000 hectares of vines on the island. It was only as recent as the 1990s that a resurgent interest in quality winemaking started bringing up the number of vineyards again, to over 2,500 hectares. That still represents less than 1% of the farming land available, and a far cry from its boom over a 100 years ago.

Bodega Son Mayol was established in 2008 by a Swiss entrepreneur, who stays out of the limelight. The spacious estate is home to vineyards, olive trees and a herd of Aberdeen Black Angus cattle – somewhat rare on the island, which now has a waiting list for its meat. Its location in Establiments was formerly not known for wine, but legendary Bordelaise consultant Patrick Léon (who passed away in 2018) was on hand to oversee the grape planting and wine elaboration, identifying its initial 60 acres of vineyards across 35 microclimates.

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