✅ Selva Vins is a Mallorcan winery which, as its trade name indicates, was founded in the village of Selva in 2015 by the Mallorcan oenologist Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann, his wife and accomplice Bárbara and his partner, the New Zealander Reg Ward. His wines are made with minimal intervention but reflect the maximum expression of the local varieties of Mallorca.
▷ HIDDEN ICON
Carlos loves wine. And you can see it in the sparkle in his eyes, in his body expression when he talks about his wines, about his personal project… and you can tell that when you taste his wines. It is a careful, pampered project, you only have to look at his bottles, his seal, his labels, there is nothing casual about it.
Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann is one of those winemakers who loves each of his wines like his own skin. After many decades working for other wineries, it was in 2015 when he decided to work with his wife, to fight and build his dream together. That project he always wanted to do, to give life to his own winery, based on the philosophy of recovering the local varieties of the island and making wine the way he personally believed in, with minimum intervention, letting the land and the fruit speak for themselves.
Selva Vins was one of the pioneering wineries in producing a “natural wine” in Mallorca, and we say natural without labelling because the wines produced by Carlos are wines that give prominence to the land, nature and fruit, far beyond the wood. And this is the differential value of his project.
Its winemaking method is based on the concept of minimum intervention accompanied by the preservation of purity at all stages of viticulture and subsequent production.
Carlos bet on his dream and his ideas, and although the beginnings were not easy, because there was no natural wine culture on the island, nor was it as popular as it may be now, he carried forward what he believed in. He defended it and we have to say that the time has come, in which Selva Vins shines. Wines that are a reference in the local market and that are also beginning to stand out outside our borders. Selva Vins is one of those wineries that you know is here to stay and set the trend.
We are approaching the Selva Vins winery which is located in the centre of this village in Mallorca. And Carlos and his wife are waiting for us and, later, Reg will also join us, with whom we talk and learn more about this personal project
1- When did you decide to start your personal project?
In 2015 we were looking for a physical place to make labelled wine, until then we had been making wine for family members, things in petit comité that we didn’t market, and it happened that some friends had a winery with no production, and they had it closed. So I asked them if they were willing to rent it, and they said yes. That is how it all started.
When we came in, in this cellar that you are now, there was practically nothing, only those two big tanks, there was no machinery either. But from nothing, we started up little by little. 2015 was the year we entered, and the following year, in 2016, we produced our first four wines, and from 2017, our real production began, it was the decisive year, we already had a little more infrastructure and we began to produce our wines.
2.- And how did the name Selva Vins come about?
We thought about it, but in the end it was the next reasoning, a winery that is in Selva, we make wine, and so we said Selva Vins.
We also thought it was a way of paying tribute to the place where our winery is located, to give importance to the village: the place where we are, and it was like that.
Then it also coincided with the type of label: the landscape is the panorama of what you see when you arrive from Inca in the watercolour, the village, the church, everything seemed to make sense to us. An image that shows the reality of what you see, a village, its mountains, a label with meaning, a winery in Selva, called Selva Vins.
3.-What do Selva Vins wines have to say?
They talk about my way of making wine: wine as I understand it and want to do it, is something very personal. I suppose they tell my perspective, my vision of the wine I like to make.
They also tell about my land, Majorca, because of something obvious: I basically use local varieties, with the way they are made with no additives except sulphur, spontaneous fermentation… They tell about the Majorcan variety itself, pure, or less manipulated, more authentic, or less distorted than the Majorcan varieties that are made, in a way that is very respectful of the grape. And my personal perspective on winemaking.
4.- If we look back from 2017 to 2020, how has Selva Vins evolved?
The evolution of everything I have learned by making wine, I have been many years, making wines for others, and I have also learned what I want to do and how I want to do it.
And above all, I would say first, variety: having gone mad doing things that no one else did before. Like an Orange wine, using chestnut barrels, the first Ancestral made or marketed in Mallorca, the only Clarete de Mallorca is ours… therefore the evolution has been to do these new things, things that nobody did on the island and also the acceptance of the people, because that is important, it is not easy to start with this, thinking that it could have been a failure, and it has not been. Evolution has been to see that people like it. So that’s when you get super happy and say, “I’m doing weird, geeky, unusual things, out of the ordinary, but people like it. Not only people from the sector, sommeliers… but also the general public.
People who are not from the world of wine, who suddenly taste one of our wines, with the Ancestral wine a lot has happened -, and they say “Oh, this reminds me of a wine my grandfather used to make”, and that makes me climb the walls of happiness and joy. It’s not crazy people like us, who taste, taste and go to fairs, and we already have a lot of palate and criteria … people who consume and drink wine from time to time, and try a wine and say this reminds me of moments in their childhood, and I love that, because it pleases sommeliers who look for different things and appreciate it, like normal, ordinary people. And I love that it is such an ambivalent wine. Wine for everyone, at the end of the day, for everyone’s enjoyment.
5.-What is the difference between Selva Vins and other Majorcan wines?
Now, at the moment we are talking, there are more wineries fortunately starting or already doing similar things. At the time Selva Vins came out, the difference was the way in which it was made, above all, nobody except perhaps Eloi (Vinari System) was the only one, but no one else made the wine this way: with spontaneous fermentation, no additions…
And then the types of wine, for example Claret today, nobody does, Ancestral was the first, now there are four or five, Orange wine, the same, now there are a few…
The differences before were many, now it is less, because there are people who are encouraged to do these things.
I believe that Selva Vins has taken away the fear – although it may sound pretentious -, from many wineries that had the idea or did things on the sly, or intended to do so but did not dare, to take away the fear… in the end saying this can be done well and people like it.
I think it was to give a kick to the fear, and to say look, if they have dared, and it works out well for them, well now I take away the fear and I do it too.
6.- Ancestral, Orange, what are the peculiarities of these wines?
Ancestral is the ancient way of making a sparkling wine when Louis Pasteur had not discovered how the yeast worked… Many wines were left with a little fermentation, that is to say with some carbon dioxide from the fermentation, they remained like this naturally, the fermentation did not end if it had alcoholic potential, and this is what people liked: the bubble roll, and they thought about how to do it on purpose.
We want this, and the only form they had was the ancestral one, that is to say, when the wine is still fermenting, put it in a container, seal it, so that it finishes fermenting and leave the carbonic inside, and that’s it.
And this is the ancestral way of making a sparkling wine. Hence the ancestral name, because they did not yet know the system of yeasts and so on. The peculiarity is that, to make a sparkling wine again, from a single fermentation, in the old way. Pét-Nat (Pétillant-Naturel) as it is known internationally.
Orange is a Brisat. Known as Orange wine, it has different names and the peculiarity is that it is a white wine that ferments with the skins as if it were a red wine. Normally, white wine ferments without skins, it’s just the must, and in this case it’s a white wine that ferments with its own skins, and gives it another character, and another peculiarity, it gives it tannins, it gives it another colour… orange wine has even asked me if we put orange skins on it. Orange is more like it because of the orange colour it takes on when the skin is more concentrated.
The origin of this type of wine is in Georgia, where these wines were made with the Mtsvane and Rkatsiteli varieties. Giorgia because it is traditional. Brisat because in Catalonia, yes, it is something that has been and still is very minimalist, and now it is being extended more and more, because it is a little bit fashionable, so to speak, and then other areas have also been promoted, which had never even made Brisat or Orange in the traditional way, as in Mallorca, which is not traditional. I was looking forward to trying making an Orange wine from Premsal. Now there are more people who want to try it.
7.- What does someone who has been in the world of wine for so long think about this boom in natural wines that is reaching the general public?
I am a little reluctant to use the word “natural wine”, which is in fact very ambiguous. I know that, in the world, those of us who talk about natural wine more or less understand each other, we know what we’re talking about, removing the super-radicals… It’s a way of making wine. But of course, since it is so ambiguous, I refuse to talk about “natural wine” for the general public, in fact, whether on my label or personally, I never say that I make natural wine or even, I don’t promote it as such because I think that way we confuse people.
As far as the boom is concerned, I think it’s great, it’s a very different form from another framework with more authenticity, with less make-up, with less distortion of what comes from the vineyard, whether there’s a boom or a fashion, call it X in this way of making wine, I think it’s great, and I think it’s going to go from there. Some say it’s a passing trend, and I don’t think so, that it’s going to be a trend that’s going to grow, it’s going to be promoted. More and more wineries, even if they don’t have a “natural philosophy”, are making a natural wine, or a natural environment.
8.- What moment do you enjoy most during the elaboration of the wine?
When I most enjoy it is when I am in the winery alone, I think it is my most enjoyable moment, to be alone, and when I am decanting the wines, to sense where they are going, and what is going to happen with this or not. Perhaps because it is a more intimate moment, of the wine and me. It’s when it’s just me with the wine, and it sounds a little poetic, but it’s my moment of creation, when the wine talks to me a little, I open the lid, I move it, and we kind of start to understand each other, he’s telling me I’m going this way, and maybe it’s not what I wanted, but I know he’s going that way. So I don’t have much to do there, it’s just let him go his way, help him. I also have my idea, I try to get him to go towards my idea, but if he doesn’t want to, he won’t go.
And if you respect him, in the end you have a very funny, and very cool, result.
Also the harvest, although sometimes chaotic, is key. I wouldn’t say enjoy, but partly yes, because it’s the beginning of everything: having the bunches in your hand, of course, is a lot of work, nerves, hours without sleep, whole days of going here, going there, sleeping little, working a lot, then enjoy-enjoy I wouldn’t say, but exciting. You have the grapes in your hand, which will become wine. It has its point of pleasure.
9.- And this year how are the vineyards, the 2019 deposits that will be the next wines of Selva Vins?
2020 has just been harvested from the vineyard. 2019 is in storage and it was a spectacular year, it was a great year, it was one of those years that marked the year on the calendar, like 2015. It was a super good year, the grapes were great. It’s the essence, if the grape is perfect, the work in the winery is minimal. And we had a refrigerated truck for the first time.
So, vintage 2019 which is what is in the winery, happy. Everything is in the tank, it has to be bottled. I think it’s one of the best years and I think the Gorgollasa is the best Gorgollassa I’ve ever made.
10.- And 2020 ?
Well, it’s a very bad year, the whole island is in a bad way, some have even had hail, a very bad year in the vineyard of vintage, but as I have focused on the Malvasia vineyard this year, we bought the rest of the grapes, and the Malvasia is quite good, in my case, satisfied.
11. HIDDEN TOP. The difficult question, recommend one of your wines. We know it is difficult.
I can’t, it’s just that, with 17 wines, it’s like having 17 children.
Reg: (interrupts to help Carlos). Premsal is a special wine. When he started making it, he was annoyed that people despised the variety, they said it couldn’t be made, that you had to add a bit of this and a bit of that… it was a pulse, and he managed to make a super interesting wine. And this 2019 wine is 100% without anything, with no additions, and I would give a 10, he would have to show off and be proud of the wine that Carlos has made.
Carlos is encouraged, and interrupts his team to tell us:
I’ll tell you 3. One is the Premsal for all that Reg has said because I’ve been listening that premsal is a filling grape and you have to put chardonnay or muscatel in it because otherwise it’s not good for anything, 20 years with the cantinela, and I thought it couldn’t be, you have to be able to make a rich, interesting wine, I’m not saying a a superb wine, but a wine with dignity of its own and I am super proud, because I think I have given dignity to the Premsal. To make a 100% rich, interesting and complex Premsal, without the need for anything else to complement it, to improve it, or stories. Only Premsal works. I am proud of this Premsal.
I would jump to the Clarete, because it is a unique form of production, which nobody does, basically nobody in Mallorca, and very few in Spain, and take the traditional form, of Cigales which is the place of the claret of 80% white must and 20% red with skins fermenting together, make it Mallorcan style: That is to say, take the viura and the Tempranillo from Cigales and make it with Premsal, and the first one I made with Mantonegro and now I’m making it with Gorgollasa, which is a red grape, because it also makes me very proud, because it’s a unique wine with an almost unique production method, very few places in Spain do that, and make it Mallorcan-style, so that such a peculiar wine comes out, so unique too, with such different nuances, because I’m also very proud of the claret.
And in red, I would go to Gargo because it is the Gorgollasa, which is my favourite variety, and I am in love with the Gorgollasa, and I think that our Gargo -without underestimating others-, the Selva Vins gargo as everything, is more respectful, pure with the variety, less make-up, gives the identity of the variety.
To say 3, because of course, I could continue with the Ancestral, continue with the Premsal Castaño and I would tell you that the madness of putting it in chestnut to see what happens… well I love it, in short I could talk and defend all. But well, I’ll leave you a white, a red and a claret.
And if you make me choose between the three, I would say that it depends on the moment, and the company, the situation.
And after talking about his wines, we asked Carlos to tell us his favourite places, his recommendations to get to know “his Mallorca”. The essential ones that make you truly enjoy the magic of the island. His hidden gems.
MUST SEE: Sa Torre de Ses Ànimes, I pass when I go to the vineyard of Estellencs and I love it. It’s not a hidden place, but for a long time it was a hidden place and I loved to stand up – now you can’t go up. But I still remember the magic of seeing the sunrise there.
MUST GO TO : I love Bar La Sang as a place to go and have some wine, but I also really like La Viniloteca, a place where I’ve become very fond of lately, because I’ve also known its owner, Xavi, for many years through stories from the world of music. There’s something more personal, but the place itself, I like it for the wines that have been selected to try different things, other than the jack, horse and king of all sides. And of course, our great friends from Ca Na Toneta, the also now famous Vinya Toneta, a new concept where you can drink some wines with spectacular tapas… We have a personal relationship with them: they are neighbours, because they are in Caimari, and we share the same collective madness for what we do, the quality of the food and the wine list.
We take this opportunity to ask the rest of the Selva Vins team: Bárbara and Reg.
1.- What do you do at Selva Vins?
I do a bit of everything, I select grapes, and I put the cork, I put the labels on them, I dress the bottles, and I make them very cute.
2.- What is your favourite Selva Vins wine?
At first it was very Giro Ros, because before Carlos did it, I loved a Giro Ros wine that was on the island, and I was very excited when ours came out. I also love the Gorgollassa, but depending on the day, the Tempranillo too…
1.- Which wines do you keep?
Gargo. I love the variety, in fact except Malva that, is the only one that has its own name, without being directly the variety, is the Pinot Noir of the Mediterranean, for me the Pinot Noir is the most difficult wine and the most magic, of the varieties. It has structure, but it is light, it has nuances, it has fruit, and the expression that Carlos draws from this variety, I think is faithful to the variety itself, and for me it is a noble variety on a par with the characteristics of a Pinot Noir. And you can even notice the touch of violets on the nose. In this wine on our label, we also thank and mention the Ribas Winery, because they were the ones who rediscovered the Gorgollasa and after a long process of between 12- and 13 years, the variety was confirmed, passing all the necessary processes and analyses. It is their merit to have “given away” this wonderful variety to everyone.