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An Interview with Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann - Selva Vins

If you are one of our regular readers I am sure that you will have noticed us recommending wines from Selva Vins. Since the Company began in 2017 we have been following the first steps of this winery with a great deal of interest. I have also lent a helping hand at a couple of harvests and in the cellar.

This article is based on a recent conversation I had with Carlos Rodríguez Furthmann, the winemaker for this unique project.

Carlos left Palma at the age of 22 to live in the family country house in Biniali, where he had his first contact with 240 mixed vines that his father had planted.

Today, the wines that Carlos creates are breaking all the taboos about Mallorcan wine and pushing many of the local producers to innovate in similar ways.

His wines begin their life in a humble garage located in the centre of Selva but then they move on to grace the tables of some of the best restaurants in Mallorca, Paris, Barcelona, and beyond.

The vines that Carlos nurtures

Iván: What made you move to the countryside to become a winemaker?

Carlos: I was always interested in everything to do with nature and the countryside.

I used to work in the forests, and the fields, and I also looked after the family homestead.

In 2001 I was offered to work on a big project at Bodegas Bordoy.

During the day I worked in the fields for Bodegas Bordoy and at night I would spend time studying, learning about vine growing, and winemaking.

In time, and a little bit by force, I agreed to become their winemaker.

Iván: Do you think that Mallorcan wines are singular?

Carlos: Some Mallorcan wines are singular and others are not. Just because a wine is created in Mallorca it isn’t necessarily a singular wine. On the other hand, if you make wine with enough respect for the local varietals and it is also handled with respect in the cellar, then yes it could be singular. We have a unique island with unique grapes that have to be treated differently to create a singular wine.

Iván: How important are Mallorcan grape varieties to you?

Carlos: There is huge value in the fact that you cannot taste a Prensal, Mantonegro, Callet, or Giro Ros anywhere else in the world. They are only grown here, on this island!!

The grapes have been here for such a long time that they have adapted to the climatic conditions and have become easier to grow. It is also possible to work with respect for the environment as the local varietal vines do not need to be treated with many chemicals.

Iván: And what about the other grape varieties that we all know about? Do you think, for instance, Merlot and Cabernet are different here?

Carlos: Apart from the climate, no, not much. If you did a blind tasting with Cabernet or Merlot wines, I doubt you could discern which one is from here.

Iván: Which variety do you find most interesting and, in your opinion, have a greater future?

Carlos: I love the Gorgollassa grape. It is different from any other red grape. I always say that it is like a Mallorcan ‘Pinot Noir’. It has a unique profile and the taste recalls forest fruits, violets, and sloe berries. The Gorgollassa grape produces a wine that is subtle, delicate, and elegant, which is not the norm for a Mediterranean wine.

Carlos (Selva Vins) hard at work

Iván: I believe your wines have a lot of personality. How do you manage to achieve a wine with such personality?

Carlos: It isn’t intentional. I make my wine according to the way I feel and the way I believe it should be done, and the result is what is in the bottle. Since the beginning, my focus has been to create wines that I want, in the way that I want.

Iván: Do you follow any wine trends?

Carlos: Quite the opposite! I’ve been labelled ‘the crazy one’ here in Mallorca. I’ve managed to commercialize wines that were originally considered unthinkable here. For instance, things like a claret, an ancestral sparkling, spontaneous fermentation, or the use of a chestnut barrel during the aging process.

Iván: Do you consider your wines to be Natural?

Carlos: No. The interpretation of Natural is different everywhere. Some Natural Wine Associations consider my wines natural and others do not because I add a little bit of sulphite. I create a wine according to the way I think it should be created and I do not get into debates about whether it is natural or not. That way I also avoid any potential labelling issues.

Selva Vins Ancestral bottles

Iván: Where do you see the Spanish wine industry in the future?

Carlos: In terms of sales and consumption we are light years away from other countries. Beer is a great competitor and wine sales are down. However, there is a new wave of wine producers who are shifting their attention from big quantities to quality products. Here in Mallorca, we are a few years behind, but we are quickly catching up. It is good to see smaller wineries looking after local grape varieties, as well as the quality, the singularity, and the emphasis on character.

Ivan: Where do you go from here? Any future goals that you would like to achieve?

Carlos: My main goal is done. I am making my wine and making a living from it. I would love to travel a bit more, but I am happy to know that people have accepted my wines here and overseas. Our future project is to build a new, larger winery amongst our vines. I would also like to see my daughter taking over the winery when I retire. She is currently studying to become a winemaker so if she does take over the reins my happiness would be complete.

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