WITH September on the doorstep, award-winning Majorcan wine producers, Macía Batlé were celebrating the start of the grape harvest yesterday at their country estate, sa Torre in Santa Maria.

In Majorcan, the time-honoured picking of the grapes from the vine is known as the “Vermada” and around 100 invitees were given the privilege of being the first to collect the first Chardonnay grapes from the vines, the earliest ripening variety of all.

Wine production director, Ramon Servalls, explained that after the completion of the Chardonnay harvest, the collection process would shut down for a week or so but would then start up again with the harvesting of the Merlot grape and other varieties, a process which Macía Batlé envisages will finish by the end of September.

On a less positive note, Servalls forecast that this year's harvest is not going to be as bountiful as it had been in 2007. “The copious rainfall we had in May and June resulted in mildew emerging in the grape crop along with another adverse condition known as brotitis. The blight will mean that we can expect between 20 and 50 percent less from the harvest this year.” Servalls added, however, that the loss of volume would not negatively affect the quality of the wine which is produced from the healthy sections of the vines.

Meanwhile yesterday, after the pickers had collected the first cartloads of grapes at the sa Torre estate in Santa Maria, they spread themselves out under a shady awning to tuck into pa' amb oli with generous helpings of Majorcan sausage - sobrassada - and cheese. And it goes without saying, there was plenty of wine to go round.

Macía Batlé has an international reputation for wine production, more than once mentioned by American wine guru Robert Parker in his trade journal.


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