The island of Menorca may not be the first location that springs to mind when you think of sparkling wine, artisan gin and olive oil. However, these are gems of the burgeoning culinary scene here. Whether you enjoy your Menorcan property year round or holiday here periodically, enjoying regional produce is a pleasure that few can overlook.
Wine is produced absolutely everywhere these days, so it will not come as a surprise to learn of Menorca’s numerous vineyards. Around half a dozen established wineries can be found across the island. They produce a variety of wines white and red, dry and sweet, table and reserve. Wine here is more than a drink, though, it is an experience. The island has held a regulated geographical denomination since 2002 and the industry has exploded over the sixteen years.
Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes form the basis of the most traditional of Menorcan wines. The distinction of geology between the North and South of the island make Menorca a great location for different varieties to thrive. So as vineyards have developed, the range of grapes grown across Menorca has increased.
Translated literally as cellar, the bodegas of Menorca encompass so much more. These sometimes family-run wineries offer visits, tastings and sales. Look for Binifadet to the South, in the North Bodegas Menorquinas and Hort de Sant Patrici and Finca Sa Marjaleta and Binitord to the West.
At Binifadet Bodega in the region of Sant Lluis, you’ll find Menorca’s only local sparkling wines. It’s great to enjoy a local fizz for a celebration, or even just to toast another beautiful evening on the beach!
The establishment of gin distilleries on Menorca are historically down to British rule. During the eighteenth century, the first distillery was built to quench the thirst of British soldiers. The first locally managed production, Xoriguer, was established early in the twentieth century. It reflected the growing popularity of the drink amongst the local population. Xoriguer is the seminal product to buy. It does, however, have a very distinctive taste as it is distilled using wine rather than grain alcohol. So it’s a good idea to head to the factory at Mahon port to enjoy a tasting session.
Gin has evolved here on Menorca with Pomada, a cocktail synonymous with the island, being produced pre-mixed by Xoriguer. This mix of the spirit and bitter lemon is a must-drink for any fiesta occasion… or just to unwind after a busy day shopping and lunching! The Xoriguer estate is a great place to go for gin cocktail ideas that perfectly suit the Menorcan climate.
The South of Menorca is home to the Morvedra Vell Estate, six hectares of cultivated olive groves and still further wild olive trees to be found across the remainder of the estate. With grinding taking place immediately after harvesting, the natural flavour of this locally produced oil is optimised. However, it is the combination of cultivated and wild oils that make this Menorcan treasure second to none.
This one wasn’t glamorous enough to make it into the title, but instead sits amongst its key ingredient of olive oil! It is said that during the French occupation, the town of Mahon was home to the original creation of mayonnaise in the mid-eighteenth century. The product then went on to be officially launched in Paris. The Menorcan recipe stays true to its origins: olive oil, garlic and eggs.
For anyone who enjoys quality regional produce, Menorca is a treasure trove. The island holds one principle in common across these different products: that of detailed care and pride in quality. The word artisan is absolutely correct for locally produced food and beverages on Menorca. It is all clear in the taste and experience!