If you’re already dreaming of 2019 holidays, gluttons would do well to book a trip to Menorca, says Stylist’s deputy editor Gemma Crisp.
I’m a person who knows her way around a wine list. My friends don’t even bother looking at it when we go out any more, they just hand it to me and say, “You decide.” Aglianico, malvasia, saperavi – the more unusual the grape, the more I’m into it.
So when I ask César, the head winemaker at Torralbenc, Menorca’s boutique hotel and vineyard, what makes up the citrusy white he’s just poured straight from the barrel, I nod along to the usual suspects: sauvignon blanc, viognier, chardonnay… “Sorry, what was that last one?” I interrupt. César repeats himself. I’ve never heard of it. I can’t even guess how to spell it.
It’s a Spanish grape, he explains. I have to ask him to type it into Google. “Parellada is one of the three main grape varieties used to make cava,” chirps the first entry. “Native to the Catalonian hills, it’s grown almost nowhere else – just 5% of Spain’s parellada vines are located outside Catalonia.” Ah. That explains it.
Starting with just five hectares in 2006, the 15-year-old property has now dedicated 16 of its 70 hectares to grapes, with a merlot/syrah blend and a rosé joining the eminently quaffable white. Guests can book in for a personal tour with César, accessing the vineyards by foot or bike to meander up and down the rows with a glass of vintage clutched firmly in hand.
That’s if you can wrench yourself from Torralbenc’s tranquil saltwater pool, luxurious spa or the restaurant terrace where the most incredible seafood is delivered straight from the outdoor grill to your plate. At times I even had trouble leaving my room, which looked like the chic love child of Hermès and Loewe thanks to its buttery colour palette.
And did I mention the views of sloping farmland dotted with olive trees, rustic stone walls and the sea from my private patio? But when you do venture away from the 17th-century whitewashed buildings and impeccable gardens, it’s only a 15-minute drive into the island’s capital, Mahón (if you want to explore the island, you definitely need a car).
There you’ll find more foodie delights in Plaça d’Espanya – the fish market is ideal for octopus pinxtos and a cold caña in the sun, while the 18th-century indoor market is the place to pick up some sobrassada (soft paprika sausage). Sweet tooth? The dulce de leche ice cream across the square at Cana Loca is heavenly.
If you want to up the swank factor, book Sa Pedrera d’es Pujol (sapedreradespujol.com), a 13-minute hop south of Mahón’s impressively deep harbour. This is fine dining, Menorcan style, with its simple dining room full of people tucking into the island’s signature caldereta de llagosta (lobster stew).
From here, the pristinely picturesque trio of Binidalí, Binisafúller and Binibeca beaches are less than 15 minutes away for a post-lunch dip and snooze, followed by a G&T made with local Xoriguer gin at Cova d’en Xoroi (covadenxoroi.com), one of the most spectacular cliff bars in all of Europe. Or head back to Torralbenc for a glass of their rosé, an aromatic blend of mourvèdre and parellada. But you may need to google how to pronounce parellada first…
Rooms at Torralbenc from £160 per night, wine tastings from £26, torralbenc.com; Easyjet flights from London or Bristol to Mahón from £57 return
Images: Courtesy of Torralbenc