Posted by: tomciocco | November 1, 2012


The eastern Mediterranean has the three big islands, with three big names that everyone knows: Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. If these three islands were one nation, they’d likely have a tourist trade larger than most actual countries do  – Currently, Sicily alone can best huge swaths of entire continents…

But If you steam west, before you reach the coast of  Spain, you’ll reach another triumverate of islands called The Balaerics, that are far smaller than their neighbors to the east, but unlike them, are culturally unified (The Balaerics, along with the Valencian lands, Roussillon in France, and Catalunya proper together represent the totality of “catalan” culture.), and apart from the smallest island of the three – Ibiza – being the destination for debauchery for European college students on their version of Spring Break, the other islands, Mallorca (the largest of the three), and especially Minorca are only lightly visited.

These are islands of the sun, the shore, palms, and (mostly) quiet ports (Palma on Mallorca is a big stop on the Mediterranean cruise circuit), and since the Phoenicians brought the vine here thousands of years ago, these islands have been the perfect nursery for the grapevine, and there are more than a few vine varieties found nowhere else but in the vineyards of these three slim islands of red rock, light, and shadow, but that’s another post.

This evening’s wine is made from none other than the Spanish mainland’s Tempranillo, albeit a very peculiar, old strain of it. And it’s likely a conspiracy of this particular set of vine genetics, and the subtantially different terroir that makes this wine so different from Tempranillo wines from Rioja or Ribera del Duero or Toro. If those regions’ wines really reflect their higher altitude, more sylvan surroundings, this is a wine (which specifically emanates from the Binissalem-Minorca D.O.) of golden sunshine, strong, warm winds, and rocky, volcanic soil…

The cuisine of the Balaerics is a very distinct wing within the greater house  of  “catalan” food,  so obviously to match one of the archipelago’s odd wines, I went in this direction, beginning with a sopa menorquina (a ‘dry’ soup of  toasted bread pieces with an egg cracked over them, and then ladled over with a broth made from just water, herbs, and garlic)  and for the main course, chicken parts stewed in a smooth, thinnish sauce of tomato, garlic, onions, herbs and ground almonds) with a stew of potatoes and spinach on the side.








Jose L. Ferrer “Anada Roble” Binissalem-Minorca 2010

Slightly purple, medium garnet color. Rusticly noble nose of black raspberry, dried violets, woody spices, fennel seed, subtle oak, grilled yellow peaches, and dusty mint. The wine opens with a very nice balance of fine, dry tannins, and fresh, juicy acidity, and an intricate, detailed mouthfeel that textures intense and decidedly savory mulberry, currant, and plum  flavors. The long-developing finish carries strong notes of chocolate and blueberry.



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