Month: March 2015

Mis en bouteille en Mallorca

Normally, by 11am, I’ve walked the dog, written half an article and answered all my emails. Today, however, I’ve done nothing but slurp two glasses of vino tinto and am about to start attacking the third! 😉 I’m not, as you might suspect, slumped on a barstool having confused Saturday night with Tuesday morning, but am actually engaged in a civilised chat with Javier Jara, owner of Son Sureda Ric.

This small, family-owned boutique wine estate is located in Mallorca’s Manacor area, and produces red wines made from ecological grapes. Apart from the growing and harvesting of the grapes, also the aging in barrels, bottling, labeling and sale of wine is all carried out on the property, making the way they work and their philosophy very similar to those of the French Chateaux.

We’d heard quite a few people rave about this place and the first-rate wine, so we were eager to venture out to the island’s east and find out what the boozy buzz was all about.

Bodega de la finca Son Sureda Ric

Bodega de la finca Son Sureda Ric

We drove out of Palma’s rush hour traffic and ended up, an hour later, at the end of a grassy road where we encountered the sort of gates that require you to hop out of the car, unlatch, slide across and swing open; something which already made us feel a little less like city slickers! At the house we were greeted by crisp country side air, a few barking dogs and Javier on the terrace looking out over his three hectare vineyard.

Bodega de la finca Son Sureda

The Son Sureda vineyards

We started our tour in the grounds where we saw Jaime in a far corner busying himself with the vines. No, the others were not having a tea break; it’s just Javier and his wife Carme that run this petite wine producing estate with Jaime lending a helping hand every so often.

Javier grows Merlot, Callet, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, all ecological, which culminate in the production of about 6000 litres of wine a year. Not a lot compared to most mainland wine producers, as the typical Rioja bodega owns anywhere from 10,000 to 40,000 oak barrels, whereas Son Sureda’s cellar shelters no more than 20. The Son Sureda set-up is small and only the very best of grapes are allowed access to the house, ‘the VIP grapes’, as Javier calls them. The selection is super strict to ensure each bottle of wine is a high quality product which means that in a good year, only 60% of the grapes are harvested but, for example, in 2013 only 30 % of grapes were tip top enough to make it into the tank.

They're full of vino!

They’re full of vino!

After touring the fields we trooped into the farmhouse, arguably one of the most architecturally unique estates on the island. The history of this building goes all the way back to the 15th century. Taking in the ancient stone work and interior arches magically takes you back to medieval times as it seems that surely every nook, corner and cranny have quite some stories to tell! Well, we reckon definitely the not-so-subtle flail nailed to the wall could tell us a tale or two.

We first paid a visit to the tanks, and the scent of the red wine that hit us as we stepped through the centuries old archway actually made me giggle. We had a sneaky glass of a 100% Cab Sav straight from the tank. (No I didn’t make any stupid jokes about wanting to lie under the tap of the tank, apart from inside my head, thankfully…)

Afterwards we had a peek around the cellar, where we see an endless collection of wine bottles along the wall. These are of a slightly lesser quality wine, that will never be sold from this boutique bodega. We brought these up a few times hoping to cut some sort of cheeky deal but to no avail, as Javier is adamant only the finest of vino tinto leave the estate! This is also where the French oak barrels are kept, patiently ageing the wine over a period of two years.

The cellar

The cellar

Last we went to the tasting area where we tried two of the four types of wine sold: the Espira and the Ric Pur. Both elegant and exquisite. I won’t try and bore you by trying to sound like a connoisseur as I’m by no means a buff, but I have imbibed enough to know what I like and can surely detect a superior wine over a bottom-shelf supermarket one. And this guys, is the good stuff. The sort of stuff that begs to be sipped and, however much you slurp, won’t leave you with a sore head in the morning.IMG_2676

Wine maker Javier Jara.

Wine maker Javier Jara.

Want to try for yourself? Keep an eye on their website as they’ll soon start ‘open days’ on a set time and date every week where you can enjoy a tasting in absolutely stunning surroundings.

Both Javier and Carme are very warm and welcoming, making it feel like a visit to friends. Friends with a monumental amount of wine that is! 😉

Alternatively you can email Javier at to book a tour.

You should, as it really is quite special. IMG_2692

Happy Birthday to A Bucket list regatta: The St. Barths bucket 2015

The St. Barths Bucket is recognised as one of the world’s top events in yachting, and the dinged and dented bucket trophy is one of the most coveted! And as this year’s event is extra special with the Bucket celebrating its 20th anniversary we take a look at how this race has become one of the regattas not to miss!


It all started during a particularly boozy evening ashore in Nantucket in 1986 when debate raged between the Captains of yachts Volodor, Flying Goose and Mandalay as to what each yacht and crew could bring about, and the stage was set for bragging rights!

So in between the clinking of glasses and the ordering of more drinks it was decided to settle the score the following day: seven yachts sailed a fifteen mile course in Nantucket Sound – marking the very first of the Bucket Regatta’s..

Between 1986 and 2001, the Nantucket Bucket boomed, becoming one of the leading big boat regattas attracting the planet’s most prestigious sailing yachts to sail in the sunny spirit of bona fida camaraderie and wholesome competition.

cc metoc

Under CC license image by Metoc

The first St. Barths Bucket was sailed in 1995 with a fleet of only 4 yachts. Just a handful of super yachts showed on the start line in the early years which was a pretty informal event – note: fishing played a big part of those first few races!

The turning point came during the year of the infamous LeMans start – With the fleet at anchor in Colombier, one of the crew would down a cocktail on the beach, jump in the tender and hightail it to the yacht to sail her off anchor. Then at the end of the race, sail back onto anchor, again dive in the tender to full throttle it back to the beach for another daiquiri. Wehey! This was the first and last time the “LeMans” start/finish took place although we can’t for the life of us figure out why.. 😉

But it is after this event that the sailing became a bit more serious and the event more polished albeit without losing those bucketesque shenanigans.. Think spinnakers packed full of feathers, so when it was hoisted, there were feathers everywhere, or crew arriving to their yacht to find it completely wrapped in police tape or even with a toilet placed on the foredeck, complete with a blow-up doll positioned on the seat!

CC Tiarescott

Under CC license image byTiarescott

Last year 38 super yachts including seven new launches making their bucket debut competed during which “The finishes were extra close, and class wins were decided by just minutes, if not seconds, on the last day” said event Director and Race Chairman Peter Craig. Combined with a consistent 15-22 knot trade winds -epic sailing conditions- it was Bucket racing at it’s best!

This year sees the bucket sailing towards it’s 20th anniversary and while yachts are making their way to their berth in swanky St Barths as we speak we’ll be able to look forward to seeing some great sailing in what’s known on the super yacht scene as the world’s leading super yacht regatta where ‘the fun comes first’.  I mean, which other regatta awards the Golden Pineapple for “Win the Party” hospitality or The Skulduggery for “non-adult behaviour”?

Apart from acres of colourful spinnaker, nail biting finishes and post regatta partying until well after the decks have been washed down, this particular regatta is also one of the racing calendars best events to both bump into old friends you haven’t seen in ages and meet new sailors and super yacht professionals, as seasoned sailors, newbie crew, owners and designers all crowd around the same bars to enthusiastically talk boats, slap each other on the back and congratulate each other on a job well done.

Under CC License image by James Temple

Under CC License image by James Temple

This year promises to be an equally grand event with no less than 33 sail yachts signed up ranging from the 56m Rosehearty which weighs a whale-like 500 tonnes to the sleek and slippery, Southern Wind carbon bullet Windfall.

Although we won’t be able to tell what the weather will do and how the racing will pan out one thing is surely certain: All crew members of the 33 strong fleet will wear the same ear to ear sun-cracked smiles after racing! Team Brunel’s Bouwe Bekking hit the nail on the head last year when he said: ”The racing is completely different,” it’s wonderful because you see so many friends and other beautiful yachts on the water, but of course you still try to do well. You always want to look back and say you did your best job or ‘what can we do better?,’ but the priorities here are (in this order) to sail safely, have fun and then do a good job on the water.”