Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

The 2012 wine harvest has started. It is always the white grape that gets harvested first, from August 15th onwards, roughly speaking. That is grapes of the Chardonnay, Macabeu, Malvasia and Giró varieties, amongst others. Some vintners swear by the moon and may have started harvesting this year’s grapes on August 17th, the August New Moon. Others consider that a lot of humbug and call it an unproven folk tale with no background in science.

Be that as it may, the Conselleria d’Agricultura, Medi Ambient i Territori recently authorized the use of three indigenous Mallorcan grape varieties for wine making under the label Vi de la Terra de Mallorca: Gorgollassa, Giró Ros and Viognier. The island’s wine makers have campaigned for legalization of these grape varieties for quite some time, up to ten years if I am not mistaken. Approval had to first be gained from the European Commission in Brussels, then from the Spanish Government bodies in Madrid, then from Industria, the Mallorcan regulatory body, until finally, six weeks ago, the Island Council Agricultural Department approved the amendment, recognizing and regulating the geographical criteria for wines made in Mallorca.

Wine had been produced from these grape varieties in recent years, but its sale was so far prohibited. Now, any supposed illegality has been lifted. You should try some wine made from Gorgollassa or Giró grapes; they are quite impressive. The Viognier variety I do not know myself; I can not vouch for this one.

The grape shown in today’s photo is probably a Manto Negro. This variety is distinctive, but is hard to grow and it oxidizes easily.

Manto Negro is difficult. It takes to the character of the land very well, but it’s like a wild animal, savage, and you have to educate it.” (Maria Antonía Oliver, Bodegues Ribas).

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 26th, 2012. The time was 19:58:41.

Ban Lifted on Gorgollassa, Giró and Viognier Grapes

Fifty Grades of Shade

We have recently been sent a heavy humid heat wave from the African land expanse. The Agencia Estatal de Meteorología has seen itself prompted to issue a Yellow Alert warning of high temperatures for today and tomorrow.

You may agree with my findings that the heat is more bearable when under the protective shield of some natural shade. The Mallorcan natives have always considered shade an important ally in combating the unforgiving aggression of the Summer sun. Main roads between major villages used to be lined with tall and handsome Aleppo Pine Trees (Pinus halepensis) affording a canopy of shade for those traversing the island. The same in Palma, where streets such as Carrer de Blanquerna were tree-lined, in this case with Lledoners (Celtis australis), offering the animals some shade on their way to the slaughterhouse at s’Escorxador. When I sit sipping my morning coffee, I do so under the shade of the Felanitx palm trees (Phoenix canariensis) and when I go to the beach I seek comfort under the pine trees. If there are no trees, I do not go to the beach during the hot July and August temperatures. I am not mad enough to get roasted like a suckling pig just for the sake of a swim in the Med.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 7th, 2012. The time was 14:54:20.

Fifty Grades of Shade

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

The Posidonia oceanica sea grass, also known as Neptune Grass, is under threat. This marine plant is of an utmost importance to the coastal ecosystem of the Mediterranean Sea and our marine ecosystem. The plant is seen as an indicator of clean waters, and its presence is a sign of a lack of pollution. We are lucky here in Mallorca in as much as we have a widespread presence of this plant in our coastal waters. Sadly, there are now reports that this important guardian of the ecological balance and harmony of the Mallorcan marine life is in decline. The decline is attributed to mechanical damage from trawling and boats, both fishing and leisure, from excessive coastal development and eutrophication, which causes lack of oxygen and leads to the demise of marine life, including plants and seafood, shrimp, crabs and small fish.

I wish our politicians would not spend all their time and effort and the taxpayers’ money saving our banking system but would spend some time and money on the environment that is actually there to protect us and our future generations.

Why are we all so blind?

In case I get some wisecrack comments on the state of the beach shown in the photo (bottom), let me tell you that we should be pleased to find some of our beaches full with remnants of dead sea grass. This natural debris is a sign that the Posidonia sea grass is still in existence, working away in its wondrous ways of making our sea water clean and with it, our air. The day the debris does not wash up on our beaches any longer, will be a sure sign that the Posidonia has become extinct. And extinct is forever. Let’s not forget that.

The photo (top) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of deepbluehome.blogspot.com.es.

Thank you very much.

The photo (bottom) was taken near Can Picafort, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 30th, 2012. The time was 11:41:56.

The Posidonia Seagrass Crisis

An Early Summer Heat Wave

AEMet, Spain’s Meteorological Institute, has given a weather alert concerning an Ola de Calor, a heat wave.  That’s early. The big Summer heat wave normally comes around July 20th, give or take a week. That makes it three weeks early for this year’s early Ola de Calor. In Southern parts of mainland Spain, temperatures are said to be going up to 38° C, even 40° C in some places. Here in Mallorca, temperatures are forecast to reach 30° C today and tomorrow, and may go up to 31° C in some places, and even 33° C by Friday. UV radiation will be higher than normal as well these next few days with a reading of 11 and above.

My advice would be to take it easy. Be wise. Put a straw hat on your head or some other cover whenever you go out. Drink plenty of liquid, preferably non-alcoholic. Put some sun cream lotion on, ideally with a higher than 35 factor. When at home, keep your persianers shut all day long and open the windows. If you must go to the beach, seek out a Cala where you will have plenty of natural tree shade, such as in my photo, taken in s’Arenal Petit, in Portocolom. Don’t sit and get your skin burned; you will suffer from it. If you do get sun burned, apply some juice from a freshly cut Aloe Vera plant, or rub your burned skin with some plain natural yoghurt.

The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 22nd, 2012. The time was 11:34:41.

An Early Summer Heat Wave

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

According to legend, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) grew in the garden of Eden. The pomegranate is a great and versatile fruit; it has been cultivated and naturalised in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The fruit is surrounded by a long and colourful history of symbolic meaning and mythical tales. It is referred to in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. Many cultures use various parts of the tree and the fruit to make medicinal potions or other concoctions. The pomegranate is described in records dating from around 1500 BC as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.

The pomegranate tree can live for many years, some say for up to 200 years. I particularly like the pomegranate flower (see photo top).

The pomegranate fruit can be found in some coats of arms of royalty and nobility. It is also used as a pattern in old carpets and rugs from Persia, India, East Turkistan or China (see photo below).

The photo (top) was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2012. The time was 11:47:18. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of metropolitancarpet.com.

Thank you very much.

The Enchanting Flowers of the Pomegranate

Oranges and Sunshine

When we first came to Mallorca, it was one of our first ambitions to have a lemon tree in our garden. We pretty soon succeeded in planting our very own specimen.

Only much later we came to realize that the sweet aroma of orange blossoms was an equally important addition to our perfumed garden, if not much more so. You have to smell an orange tree in full bloom to know the fragrant smell; words alone can’t describe it. Orange blossoms are all prim and virginal when the buds are shut tight. But when those petals part and the plump and sticky, frilly and feathery bits of pistil and stamen spill out, orange blossoms look just a bit promiscuous. Pollinating bees everywhere respond to this sensory scent like a moth is attracted to the consuming flame.

Not all that long ago, Mallorcans were busy producing Agua de Azahar or Flor de Taronger, an orange flower water also known as Fleur d’Oranger. I imagine that this stimulant was first initiated by the Maurish settlers on this island, hundreds of years ago. Today, no such tonic water is produced here in Mallorca. One can buy Fleur d’Oranger in a Morrocan corner shop, though, and a cheaper version in one or the other supermarket. Fleur d’Oranger is a welcome ingredient for some baking and patisserie pastries and can also be used in cooking or to flavour drinks. In North Africa you will be offered Fleur d’Oranger to clean your hands as you enter a host’s house.

The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 12:46:59.

Oranges and Sunshine

The Mallorcan Bindweed

The Mallorcan Bindweed (Convolvulus valentinus) is an exquisite plant with a rather pretty flower. The bindweed is a hermaphrodite plant which usually comes with a blue flower but, occasionally can also be pink as shown here. The plant is indigenous to Alicante, Valencia, Ibiza and Mallorca, and can also be found in Algeria.

According to Herbarivirtual, the flower is rather rare in Mallorca and can only be found in one place. Well, I happen to disagree; I believe to have seen this flower near the coast line in the South East of the island, and also, in the North, and on quite a number of occasions. The plant flowers now (April, May and June) on sandy terrain near pine forests in coastal areas.

The photos were taken near Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 9th, 2012. The time was 16:11:41 and 16:13:26, respectively.

The Mallorcan Bindweed