Island Wine!


A short break in Mallorca, she said. Yeah, great idea, I reply, reaching covertly for the wine guide!

You see, a wine person is never really just on holiday! We are always keen to try new wines, learn about different styles, grape varieties, means of production, and so on. Fortunately, so is my lovely wife, Claire-Marie Soprano (, though I might have been pushing it when I accepted a podcast interview with ‘The Yank and The Limey’ (found on Spotify), as well as a bodega visit!

Our tour and tasting at Bodega Ribas, was a highlight of our trip, in fact, so don’t worry, all’s well in the Harkness-Post household! The oldest winery on the island of Mallorca, that’s 300+ years, Ribas also boasts of being the oldest family run bodega in the whole of Spain – even more impressive.

We arrived early at the small and sleepy town of Consell, where Bodega Ribas is situated, its vineyards just a couple of kilometres away. A lovely old stone building, with a courtyard for visitors to taste wine prior to buying or, like us, to assemble taking in the history and the atmosphere before our fellow tour members arrived.

Apart from the brand new barrel crianza separate annexe, built because of the need to expand in order to satisfy demand, it’s the sort of ancient building that causes people over 6 feet tall to be on their guard, along with the slightly uneven stone floors, for those with bad knees (like me!) – though this is in fact part of the charm. There’s also a healthy aroma of wine, wood and old stone – perfect!

Sylvia, our guide, expert in the business, perfectly conversant with the family history and that of winemaking on the island, is actually a French national – another plus for Claire-Marie, fluent in French and a great Francophile! Sylvia told us that it is the 10th generation of the Ribas family that is now running affairs at this island and export popular winery.

The current incumbents have learned the winemaking ropes from their family, of course, supplementing this knowledge with travels abroad, even as far as New Zealand, all with a view to maintaining Ribas’ position as one of the leaders in the market. Judging from our tasting later, I’d say they are doing a pretty good job!

There are 45 hectares of vineyard, comprising of 160,000 vines, indigenous to the island, as well as international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and the very interesting for me, Viognier, white wine grape. Vines can be up to 65 years of age and all are either naturally low yielding because of their age, or because of some green pruning – there’s a maximum of 2 kilos of grapes per vine. This, of course, adds to the richness of the finished product.

Grapes are harvested by hand, with only those passing muster being placed in the 12 kilo baskets for swift transportation to the bodega, where they are then sorted for a second time, grape by grape, ensuring that only the best produce is used for Ribas wines. It’s only the free run juice (gentle pressing of the grapes) that is used, again to maintain quality. Yeasts are, at the moment, cultivated, but there is a plan to convert to solely yeasts grown from those found naturally on the vines. A move of which I’m certainly in favour.

Our first wine was Prensal Blanco 2019 – yes the new vintage is up and running! Served very cold, it opened in the glass as it warmed slightly. Orchard fruits with some blanched almonds, very fresh, of course, given its youth! Super-quaffable dry wine, perfect with fish and seafood which, incidentally, didn’t seem as generally prevalent as it might be, given that we were on an island! A good start.

Our next wine was a rosado made with another local variety, Manto Negro – again a 2019 vintage. Sylvia told us that there was an increasing demand for their rosé wine, to which they were responding, of course. Perfumed nose – rose petals and soft red fruits. There was a touch of bitterness on the palate, making it an ideal food wine. Try this with paella!

We next tried a Barrel Fermented 100% Viognier white wine – again served very chilled, I waited until it opened a little before it revealed that which I’d been expecting, and indeed hoping for – that lovely dried apricot, particularly, and white stoned fruit element so characteristic of this variety. It’s almost oily on the palate, so rich is the Viognier, yet it manages a degree of elegance too. This was my favourite wine of the tasting, and of our whole visit – and I can tell you, we tried plenty of wines!

Ribas Negre is their best sellin wine, a red made with  Manto Negro, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. The 2017 is still developing, for me. There’s a slight leafy/mossy aroma along with the dark forest fruits, that come to the fore on the palate, with a touch of liquorice in there too. It’s a little stern at first, but melts into a lovely quite full flavour with some sweet tannin too.

Finally, Sió, their flagship wine – another red and a wine I tasted a few years ago. Using the same blend as above, but this time from the oldest vines, the wine is silky and rich. Sió, which has clearly enjoyed its 12 months on oak, fills the mouth with brambly fruit and blackcurrant, manipulating the senses, delivering a sense that all is well – a wine that needs savouring!

Following Wine Tasting Lunch; and Claire-Marie Trio Latin Jazz Concert; Sept. 2018

I wanted to thank you for the lovely wine pairing, we are loving the wines we bought (especially my Viognier, my favourite at the moment).  Dessert wine being saved for an appropriate Sunday lunch when it is cold enough to have that here.

We also enjoyed the concert at the Lavender Gardens, so please keep us updated.

Bodegas Vins del Comtat


Well, these days, no, not at all! In this once unfashionable area of production it’s the perceived ‘weight’ that’s changed. Alicante is making wines of high quality, wines that can happily rub shoulders with those from the more famous and, still, more fashionable areas. However, this latter part is also changing – DO Alicante wines are being sought after nowadays, and rightly so!


One of the reasons for this upsurge in interest is the wine portfolio of Bodegas Vins del Comtat, out of the mountainous area surrounding Concentaina. I have tasted wines with owner and winemaker, David, a number of times over the years and have always been impressed – and after our recent joint presentation I can see (and taste, of course) that the winemaking is still well and truly on track. (


The venue was La Parrila del Celler in Jabea Pueblo, founded and run, for 22 years now, by Jose Belles Monferrer, the amiable chef/patron known affectionately as Pepe. We get together occasionally to present a wine tasting lunch – five wines matched with five courses. They are lots of fun and usually fully subscribed – so David was delighted to see a full house recently, and to hear the very positive comments of the assembled tasters.


We started with Vins del Comtat Viognier. In 2006 David planted a number of experimental varieties – the one that adapted best to the conditions (extreme daytime growing season temperatures, cooling nights at 600-700 metres above sea level, Mediterranean sea breezes, and so on) was the Rhône Valley’s Viognier.

Responsible for some exquisite white wines in France it also has a fine, though shorter pedigree in Australia and I believe California – probably other areas too. Classic tasting notes nearly always refer to its marked apricot nose and flavour – it really is quite remarkable, dry as you like, but so fragrant!


Well, David’s version is more white nectarines and yellow peaches, with some mountain heather notes too. Really lovely dry white wine.


Our next wine was also Viognier, monovarietal, but this time fermented in lightly toasted oak and aged in barrel for just two months. Whilst the fruit element above is still there, it has changed dramatically, with some vanilla and a brief whiff of coconut too. Again, super wine – and what a start!


Vins del Comtat make a number of red wines – El Salze is not only a single estate vineyard, all its grapes come from a single parcela, within that estate. These are old vines producing fruit rich red wine from the Monastrell variety, with an individual personality. You’ll see the word ‘paraje’ on the label – regular readers will have seen this word before, related in Cork Talk to the new top level of Cava. It means the above, re the individual part of a single estate, and of course any association with such high end Cava can’t be a bad thing!

Plums on the nose and palate, dark colour and some mountain herbs – bay leaf and thyme, with a little dry undergrowth as well.


We were also fortunate to be able to taste the bodega’s flagship wine, MOntcabrer, 2015. Made with Cabernet Sauvignon this wine is very dark as it swirls around the glass from pouring. There is an immediate aroma of blackberry and blackcurrant again with the bodega’s signature earthiness.

There’s also some tar on the nose along with graphite notes and wood shavings from its 14 months in American and French oak. It’s big in the mouth and has a long and graceful finish. Christmas Lunch/Dinner wine – definitely a contender!


Finally a dessert wine – another white wine too, which is an indication of how good Spanish whites are these days; a tasting of five Spanish wines, three of them white!

A lovely wine, perhaps made even lovelier by the fact that the grapes are harvested from plots of land, not in Concentaina, but a matter of but a few kilometres from Javea! Moscatel, of course is the variety, and I really enjoyed it. Yes, there are typical Moscatel aromas of raisons and grapes, but these are overtaken, certainly on first whiff, by pink grapefruit notes, with some orange peel as well! Dessert wine, with refreshing acidity.


PS at the time of writing I have some places left for the ‘Wine By The Glass’ Concept Tasting with tapas at Flavors, near the Correos of Javea Old Town – Five International wines and 5€ to be used to try any other wine of your choice – all for just 20€! Please contact me to reserve.   Facebook Colin Harkness