Following a very successful visit to Celler Can Pico last October, another small group of ESRA SE members were kindly invited to this beautiful private estate in Banyalfufar on 10 October by the wine expert and ESRA member Guillem (William) Vanrell and the estate owner Gabriel Canaves.
It is now a vineyard producing quality wine but it has taken time to achieve. Gabriel Canaves bought the Can Pico estate in 1986 to rejuvenate the entire property and restart the production of wine from Malvasia grapes. He also inherited wonderful old olive trees, some thought to be 400 years old, which were indigenous to the region. These and newly planted trees provide them with their olive oil. Over the course of the last 30 years they have also planted many different fruit trees and all produce from these trees are sold locally.
It was interesting to learn that production of Malvasia wine at Can Pico has a history stretching back to at least 1829 when it was recorded that a man called Joan Albert planted a vineyard which was later extended in 1863 by Antonia Mulet and then again in 1892.
The grape variety, Malvasia, has been used to make Malmsey wine for centuries and was a favourite of Henry VIII. In 1478, George Plantagenet, brother of King Edward IV and Richard III, was forcibly drowned in a large vat of Malmsey wine when he was accused of treason (as he was a member of the royal family he was spared execution and died at his own request in his favourite wine). This sweet wine, stronger than sherry from Jerez, has been a favourite for centuries and has been produced mainly in the Balearics, Canaries and Greece, along with Madeira from the island of the same name. Vines were grown in Majorca even in Roman times, but years of disease eventually caused their decline, and fruit and almond trees were planted for harvesting instead by the local population.
Can Pico has been gently nurtured, and the vineyard now produces quantities of dry white, sweet and fortified Malvasia wines. The quantities are certainly not in the league of the large Majorcan vineyards, but the Can Pico wines are of very fine quality. Whilst hearing the history of the wines and of the estate, we were given a tour of the fermentation and storage areas, which culminated in a member being given the opportunity to cork and seal a bottle. Next, it was a short stroll to another outbuilding to see the olive oil presses and a chance to taste this oil when we had pa amb oli, which was served on a lower terrace with a panoramic view. There we also tasted the wines produced at Can Pico. To our delight we were then able to buy bottles of our favourite wine to enjoy at home. It can be found in certain stores, so do have a look.
The owner Gabriel was pleased that we had all enjoyed our tour and tasting and very kindly indicated that another group of ESRA SE members may visit again next year.