Pla i Llevant is a DO (Denominación de Origen) in the Balearic Islands of Spain. It occupies the south-eastern half of the famous island English speakers call Majorca and locals refer to as Mallorca (in Catalan and Spanish). In 1991, the region's wines were officially granted Vino de la Tierra status – equivalent to France's Vin de Pays (IGP). The more-prestigious DO status was accorded 10 years later, in 2001.
The region's name in Catalan means 'plain and east coast', an apt description of the area occupied by the designation. It is also the name of a comarca (district) of the island. The area is far better known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters than for its wine; however, tourism has been crucial to the wine industry, providing a plentiful supply of consumers.
As is the case with Mallorca's other DO (Binissalem), Pla i Llevant's wine traditions are steeped in history. Viticulture and wine production here date back to at least 123 BC, when Mallorca came under Roman rule, and Pliny the Elder is known to have praised Mallorcan wines in the 1st Century AD. The region's location along traditional trade routes nurtured wine production here. Unfortunately, in line with the rest of Europe, in the latter half of the 19th Century the island was struck by phylloxera. The louse had a profound effect on Pla i Llevant's vineyards and economy, and it took more than a century for the local wine industry to be revived, assisted by the booming tourist industry.
A strong Mediterranean climate, low altitudes of around sea level to 330ft (100m) and lime-enriched clay soils shape the region's wine styles. The soils retain moisture – essential for the hot summers – but are also permeable and provide good drainage. These conditions create wines that are often described as fruit-driven and mouth-filling, with smooth tannins. The biggest threats to vine health here are the hot, dry summers and the occasional heavy downpours and violent winds in winter.
The island's native Prensal Blanc (Moll) grape is responsible for the majority of Pla i Llevant's white wines. Moscatel, Macabeo, Parellada and Chardonnay are the other white varieties grown here. Red-wine production is based on local varieties such as Fogoneu (which traditionally dominated plantings), Callet and Manto Negro, as well as the national favorite, Tempranillo, and some international varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
Most of the designation's wines are designed for early consumption and therefore experience little if any barrel aging. That said, some exciting barrel-fermented Chardonnays are emerging as red crianzas made from Tempranillo and the Bordeaux varieties.
Still a young designation, Pla i Llevant is considered to show a lot of potential for distinctive whites and reds.