Two years ago and quite by chance, I discovered a Vi negre (vino tinto) of excellent proportions, made by Bodega Son Vell vinyes i vi in Son Macià, halfway between Felanitx and Manacor. A few days ago, I had an opportunity to visit the bodega for the first time and try some of their Son Vell Vi negre 2009, made of Callet, Fogoneu, Manto Negre and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.
The proprietor’s family has been growing uvas (grapes) for three or four generations. For years, great grandfather, abuelo and father sold most of the grapes, keeping a small amount of grapes to make wine for their own consumption. Then, twenty years ago, after Spain joined the European Community, grants were paid to have vines pulled up and destroyed. That did not matter much to the family as the mainstay of the finca had always been the dairy business and the production of milk. However, clever as they are they decided to plant new vines as the soil seemed to be best suited for just that.
When eight or ten years ago the milk market collapsed, the son, now in his mid-forties, decided to try his hand at professional wine making. The finca produces about 50 tons of grapes of a small number of varieties and of mainly autochtonous origins. Just over 40 tons of the grapes are sold to two star vintners in the area, Ànima Negra and Jaume Mesquida. The remaining grapes are used for the maceration and production of their own two excellent vinos tintos, Corrent and the said Son Vell. Only some 7 tons of grapes make it into bottles. About 1,800 litres of the Son Vell wine are kept for eight months in French oak barrels before they are filled into bottles. When I got there, the 2009 vintage had just been bottled, only a few days earlier. Out of a limited total of 2,100 bottles, only some 500 were still unsold. The bulk of the annual wine production seems to be sold by pre-order, mainly to private individuals. Neither of the two wines is marketed commercially, give or take an occasional exception.
The wine making process at Son Vell is that of a craft activity. Grapes are painstakingly harvested by hand, sorted individually and inspected, pressed manually and filled into big tanks that remain from the days of milk production.
Bodega Son Vell only produces the two red wines. Some of their red Callet grapes are harvested early, however, and sold to Ànima Negra where they are used in the making of Quíbia, which, as I am sure you know is a white wine. Fascinating, isn’t it?
The photo was taken near Manacor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 29th, 2010. The time was 17:52:19.