Stepping into Ca’n Novell’s tasting room is like stepping back in time.
Picture this: 11am on a random Wednesday morning. An unassuming warehouse-type space on an equally unassuming back street of the town of Binissalem is crawling with people, all waiting their turn to get their daily (or weekly, monthly…) allotment of wine. There are ancient-looking casks along the walls, large jugs in rubber baskets placed willy-nilly in the middle of the room, and stacks of boxes scattered around. The customers stand patiently chatting, clearly not strangers, holding giant glass jugs, plastic containers, old wines bottles, you name it. Not a soul here seems to need to be anywhere else in a hurry, so they are happy to take their time as the person in front of them gets his or her jugs refilled from taps jutting out from the casks, proffering up glorious local wines.
This ritual appears to be matter-of-fact to everyone in the room… everyone but us. My husband and I stand there, jaws open like a couple of dopes, in awe of this scene of yesteryear being played out in real time in front of our eyes.
Tasting, Anyone? #
When the man who has been busily refilling jugs comes up for air, we ask him, in our terrible Spanish, if we may have a tasting. “Of course,” he booms back in fantastic English, all smiles and enthusiasm, “just give me a minute and I’ll bring you some glasses.”
This is going well. Moments later he reappears with two small tumbler glasses and a few bottles of wine, which he deposits on a nearby barrel-cum-table. “Where would you like to start?”, he asks. No pretension here.
As good little wine tasters, and tasting room veterans, we opt to start with the lightest and work our way up. We start with two rosé wines, one he touts as his table wine, the other as his more refined offering. They are both excellent. We go onto two whites, two reds, a port, a dessert wine and finally a vermouth. These, too, are excellent by any standard.
As we are tasting, Andreu (we’re on a first name basis by this point) flits around the space, taking care of customers with the same gusto as we had experienced ourselves. When he has time to spend, he returns to us and tells us about his winery, family and philosophy.
What You See is What You Get #
He explains to us that his family has been operating Ca’n Novell for four generations and that his wines are all made with local grapes. He goes on to tell us that the wine the locals were getting from the casks is the same quality and flavour as the bottled version, and how the bottled wines are stored in a temperature-controlled environment until they are perfectly aged. He shows us how his labelling system worked, and how he reuses wine bottles returned from customers to keep not only cost, but waste, to a minimum. This, he tells us, is one reason why he is able to keep his prices low. This and because he thinks winemakers are seriously taking the Mick charging high prices for the same quality he has on offer.
The Business End #
At this point, we’re a little tipsy and have taken up enough of his time. We get down to business and order. Even this is a pleasant, streamlined operation. As we have decided on several cases of bottled wines, a few jugs, and his only boxed wine for good measure, he says he needs a little time to organise it. As we have come by train, it seems better to return by car the next day, so we shake hands and leave.
The next day, we come at the appointed time, and, after he helps a man load his tiny Porsche with more wine than I would’ve believed would fit, he loads our car and presents our bill. It all comes in at such a low price, we are certain he has made a mistake. Nope. No mistake, just good wine, from a good man at a good price. Just the way he likes it!
Getting There #
Getting there is easy. From Palma, follow Ma-20 and Ma-13 to Ma-2022. Take exit17 from the Ma-13 toward Consell/Alaró/Binissalem/Lloseta. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Ma-2022. Keep right to continue toward Ma-13A. Continue straight onto Ma-13A.
Turn left onto Carrer de Bonaire. The address is Carrer de Bonaire, 17, 07350 Binissalem.
Another option is to take the train from any of the train lines directly to the Binissalem stop. The trains run roughly every 30 minutes and are super convenient.
By Stephanie Horsman
20 February, 2019