Wines of Andalusia. Transcendental flavors

PUT ALL YOUR SENSES TO WORK WITH THE WINES OF ANDALUSIA.

Wines of Andalusia. Transcendental flavors

Wines of Andalusia. Transcendental flavors 650 488 Andalucia360

This blog could not fail to talk about the wines of Andalusia.. We are going to tell you what types of wines there are, why they are so peculiar and some interesting wineries that you should know. If you are going to visit Andalusia you cannot leave without living a taste experience that has its roots in history.

Throughout the article we mention a series of wines and wineries that we know because we have tasted them, they have been recommended to us by people with great knowledge or because of their local or international fame. However, there are many wineries whose wines are really good and do not appear in this article. We invite you to explore the different wines of Andalusia.

BRIEF HISTORY OF WINE IN ANDALUSIA

The origin of wine is debated, some findings point to the end of the Neolithic in Mesopotamia and others a little further north, around 8000 in the current area of Georgia, but let’s get to know the history of wine in Andalusia, which is what concerns us today.

PÚNICO

In the opinion of some historians, the cultivation of vines and the production and consumption of wine arrived in Andalusia at the hand of the Phoenician colonizers.the hand of the Phoenician colonizers. This eastern Mediterranean people settled in different parts of the current Andalusian coast: Malaka (Malaga), Sexi (Almuñecar) and Abdera (Adra) among others. But perhaps it is Gadir (Cadiz), the colony of more entity and fame. In fact, very close to this city is the archaeological area Castillo de Doña Blanca, a site from the Phoenician period that is considered the oldest winery in the West.

Phoenician wine in Andalusia

Archaeological reconstruction of the Doña Blanca site where you can see the places where the grapes were trodden and the wine was fermented (© Junta de Andalucía, author: Francisco Salado Fernández).

ROMAN

At Roman times wine consumption is becoming even more widespread among the peninsular population. If there is an outstanding person linked to the world of wine, it is Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (born in Cadiz in the 1st century). He dedicated a good part of his life to agriculture and, of course, to the study, cultivation and production of wine.

In Roman times, wine was stored and fermented in ceramic vessels called “dolium” or “dolia” and transported by ship in the same vessels or in amphorae. The wine of Hispania was exported throughout most of the Roman Empire and enjoyed a good reputation among the Roman high society.

In the texts of the poet Martial and the surveyor Columella, reference is made to a wine called Caretanooriginating from Ceret and that many historians have related to the origin of the current Sherry.

Wine consumption in Roman times

Detail of the mosaic “Los Pisadores de Uva” in neighboring Merida (Casa del Anfiteatro) and agricultural calendar of San Isidoro de Leon.

The minting of coins in Roman times also attests to the resources available in Andalusia. Around 50 B.C. we have the mints of Acinipo in Ronda and Baicipo in Vejer de la Frontera (Cádiz) that incorporate bunches of vines to their coins. In later centuries the mints of Osset in San Juan de Aznalfarache (Seville) or Ulia in Montemayor (Cordoba) repeat representations of bunches of grapes or even vine stalks. The reason for this iconography could be to promote the trade of wine produced in those localities or to portray the religious rites and ceremonies related to wine (“El vino en la moneda griega”, Ana Vico Belmonte, 2005).

Roman coin vid acinipo

Coin with mint of ACINIPO (Ronda, Málaga), with the grape bunch motif.

ANDALUSÍ

Despite the popular belief that the andalusi muslims did not consume wine, the truth is that this was not the case. Of course the Koran (holy book of the Mohammedan religion) prohibits the consumption of alcohol. The consumption of wine in al-Andalus did not have the promotion and trade that it had in the previous period, but the reality is that its consumption was widespread, especially in the first centuries of al-Andalus.

It is not easy to generalize, because the andalusi society of the first centuries is very different from the late medieval and especially that of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, but we can say that wine was used in any case as a socializing or therapeutic element.

According to a study by Sergio Martínez Lillo, the types of grapes cultivated in the current territory of Andalusia and referenced by andalusi authors are as follows

    • Aceibe: better quality and more fleshy. They are dedicated to raisins and are grown in Malaga, Jete (Almuñecar), among other places in Spain.
    • Jabí grape: produced in Granada and other coastal areas.
    • Muscatel grape
    • Arije or alarije grape: grapevine grape.
    • Marbillí: from Marbella.
    • Munakkabi: from Almuñécar.
    • Qanbani: from the countryside of Córdoba.

The following production areas are also identified: Montes de Málaga, Jerez, Hornachuelos, Baeza, Baena, Alpujarras, Niebla, Fiñana, sierra and countryside of Córdoba, Almuñécar and Seville.

Among other personalities we will see, we would like to draw attention to Ziyab. This was a verymultifaceted figure who traveled from Baghdad, where he had already acquired fame, to the Iberian Peninsula. Here he served at the court of Abd ar-Rahmān II, emir of Cordoba in the 9th century. He is considered responsible for the introduction of chess and the precursor of andalusi music. However, with regard to the wines of Andalusia, a mention is preserved in which Ziryab recommends to his emir the consumption of wine in crystal glasses in order to better appreciate its qualities. Apparently the custom was to drink wine in metal containers.

Wine consumption in al-Andalus

Miniature known as “Gardens of Ziryab” considered from the 13th century.

In Malaga we have news of the existence of the “xarab al-Malaquí” (Malaga syrup), which would be a kind of raisin wine consumed by Jews and Muslims. Among others, the Malaga-born Jewish poet and philosopher Ibn Gabirol quotes him with longing in a letter.

CHRISTIAN LATE MIDDLE AGES AND MODERN AGE

In the medieval and modern Christian world, wine consumption has a diverse conception, i.e. it combines ludic, food and even religious values, since wine is present in the liturgy as the blood of Christ.

Vineyard in Cantigas de Santa María

The master of the vineyard inspecting his land, from the Cantigas de Santa María (13th century). National Library of Spain.

During the late Middle Ages (13th to 15th centuries) in Christian territory (approximately equivalent to the provinces of Huelva, Seville, Cadiz and Cordoba), vineyard extensions are growing. Although initially the hectares dedicated to this crop were scarce, from the 14th century onwards it experienced a great increase and came to constitute a large part of the livelihood of the peasant society of the time. The capitals, such as Seville, were large consumers of wine. From the 15th century onwards, trade with England, Ireland and other northern countries flourished.

During the Modern Age (16th to 18th centuries) was another turning point in the production of wines in Andalusia. With the beginning of trade with America, Andalusian wines began to be exported with greater force. Andalusian wines were produced on a large scale mainly in western Andalusia, since from the 16th century until 1778 the port of Cadiz held a monopoly on trade with the “Indies” (the American continent).

Throughout the Modern Age a first core of wine production was formed a first core of wine production. Although production was already considerable in Malaga, from 1778 (the end of the Cadiz monopoly) the province experienced a spectacular growth in production. In the opinion of some researchers, Malaga wine will become the most famous and expensive wine in the world between the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century (Francisco Manuel Pérez Hidalgo, 2022).

CONTEMPORARY AGE (1789 to present)

In the 19th century, the main vine-growing areas were consolidated and the secondary ones were lost, leaving space for olive trees. But above all, the cultivation of vines associated with fresh grapes or table grapes was progressively lost. The main wine-growing areas during the 19th century were those of Jerez and Malaga. They are closely followed by Montilla-Moriles in Cordoba and Condado de Huelva. Also the Axarquia in Malaga and the Sierra de la Contraviesa in Granada.

At the end of the century, the crisis caused by phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae), an insect of American origin that feeds on the roots and leaves of the vine, became widespread. Although production does not decline excessively, its full recovery is not considered until the middle of the 20th century. It was from the 1980s onwards when the area under vine fell sharply (especially in Malaga).

Vine cultivation in Andalusia, map

Extension of vineyards in Andalusia between the 18th and 19th centuries (Atlas de la historia del territorio de Andalucía. Institute of Cartography of Andalusia, Seville, 2009).

A key figure in the history of wine in Andalusia was Simón de Rojas Clemente y Rubio, a Valencian botanist who linked part of his life and work to Andalusia. In 1807 he published “Ensayo sobre las variedades de la vid común que vegetan en Andalucía” (Essay on the varieties of the common grapevine that grow in Andalusia), a key work in which all the varieties of grapevine cultivated in Andalusia are collected by means of a scientific method. The work is publicly available on the Internet.

Wines of Andalusia, Simón Rojas Clemente

Essay on the varieties of the vine by Simón de Rojas Clemente y Rubio.

In the 19th century another turning point in the history of Andalusian wine will take place. Between the middle and the end of the century the most important wineries that we know today were founded, although there are some wineries that are even older. In fact, two Andalusian wineries are among the oldest in Spain. In the following section you will find a list of the oldest wineries in Andalusia.

In the first third of the 20th century, the first five Protected Designations of Origin (hereinafter PDO) were created. On September 8, 1932, the so-called “Estatuto del Vino” (Wine Statute) was approved by decree.

Wine Statute

Wine Statute of 1932.

At present, Andalusian wine production is around 1 million hectoliters. Of all this volume, 75% is produced under a PDO or Protected Geographical Indication (hereinafter PGI). Below we will look at some specific aspects of each province in the contemporary history of wine in Andalusia.

OLDEST WINERIES IN ANDALUSIA

Here you can consult a list of the oldest wineries in Andalusia. Some of them have been producing wines since the 17th century. Of course not all of them are here, but a good representation of them.

    • Baron Bodega in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cadiz, 1631.
    • Bodega Góngora, Seville, 1682.
    • Bodega Halcón in Lebrija, Seville, 1711.
    • Bodega Alvear in Montilla, Córdoba, 1729.
    • Bodega Ximénez-Spínola in Jerez. 1729.
    • Bodega Fundador in Jerez, 1730.
    • Bodega Sáenz in Moguer, Huelva, 1770.
    • Bodega Diezmo Nuevo in Moguer, Huelva, 1770.
    • Bodega Osborne in Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz, 1772.
    • Bodega Garvey in Jerez, 1780.
    • Bodega 501 in El Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz, 1783.
    • Bodega Gutiérrez Colosía in Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz, 1788.
    • Bodega Hidalgo La Gitana in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cádiz, 1792.
    • Bodega Salado in Seville, 1810.
    • Bodega Barbadillo in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Cadiz, 1821.
    • Bodega Caballero in Chipiona, Cadiz, 1830.
    • Bodega Maestro Sierra in Jerez, 1830.
    • Bodega Tío Pepe / González Byass in Jerez, 1835.
    • Bodega Toro Albalá in Aguilar de la Frontera, Cordoba, 1844
    • Bodega Dios Baco in Cadiz, 1848.
    • Bodega Delgado in Cordoba, 1874.

CLIMATE OF ANDALUSIAN WINES

Andalusia is very large and although it is generally associated with a Mediterranean climate of mild winters and hot, dry summers, there are variations. In the interior of our autonomous community we find ecosystems closer to the continental climate with important temperature differences between day and night or between seasons. Also on the coast of Malaga and Granada there are areas with a very special microclimate that we call “tropical” and where avocado, custard apple and mango are grown. Here the temperature is milder in summer and concentrates more humidity and rainfall.

Malaga vineyards

Vineyards on the slopes of the Axarquia, specifically in the town of El Borge, Malaga.

TYPES OF WINES IN ANDALUSIA

To start immersing ourselves in the world of Andalusian wine, let’s look at the four types of wine most produced in Andalusia..

    • Fortified or fortified wines. They are the most abundant in Andalusia and have a high alcohol content. Fewer sugars are fermented during the process and they tend to have a sweeter taste. This tradition is linked to the maritime trade of the 16th and 17th centuries, where alcohol allowed for better preservation of the wine. In fact, fortified wines can remain open for months without losing their flavor and aroma.
    • Generosos de licor. These arise from the blending of fortified wines with natural sweet wines or musts. This mixing technique is known as “cabeceo”. The result is wines with a percentage of at least 5 grams of sugar per liter.
    • Natural sweet wines. These are wines that have been intervened, i.e. altered during or after the fermentation process. They are obtained in two ways. The first is by adding wine alcohol, in this case the sugar comes only from the grapes and the alcohol is partly added. The second is by adding sweet must to already fermented dry wines, in this case the sugar comes from the must to a greater extent and the alcohol from only the fermented grapes.
    • Still wines. This type of wine has a low alcohol content, no bubbles and no added sugars. The mosto (must) is converted into wine through the alcoholic fermentation process, which is carried out without contact with air. Depending on their color, there are red, white and rosé wines.

The first 3 represent a historical sign of identity of this land. They are called in different ways: fortified, liqueur, generous, sweet… with their nuances and variants are the ancient wines, which have been produced in this land for centuries. For this reason we will find them in the provinces where wine has historically been produced, such as Malaga, Cadiz, Huelva and Cordoba. Still wines are beginning to gain prominence as consumers’ tastes change towards wines with lower alcohol content and, in general, less sweetness. This change in trend began in the second half of the 19th century and continued into the 20th century. We will find quality still wines in all Andalusian provinces.

PROTECTED ANDALUSIAN WINES

The wines of Andalusia are many and varied, just like the geography and climatology of this region. That is why we have created a specific section for each province in which we will tell you about the different designations of origin and their nuances. The European Union recognizes 24 protected areas in Andalusia: 8 Protected Designations of Origin (hereinafter PDO) and 16 Protected Geographical Indications (hereinafter PGI).

PDO. DENOMINATIONS OF ORIGIN

    • Condado de Huelva and Vino Naranja del Condado de Huelva (the latter is an Aromatized Wine Appellation).
    • Jerez-Xérès-Sherry
    • Malaga
    • Manzanilla de Sanlúcar
    • Montilla-Moriles
    • Sierras de Málaga (Mountain ranges of Malaga)
    • Granada
    • Lebrija (Denomination of Quality Wines)

PGI. WINES OF THE LAND

    • Altiplano de Sierra Nevada (Highlands of Sierra Nevada)
    • Bailen
    • Cadiz
    • Cordoba
    • Cumbres del Guadalfeo (Summits of the Guadalfeo)
    • Desierto de Almería (Almeria Desert)
    • Laderas del Genil (Genil slopes)
    • Laujar-Alpujarra
    • Los Palacios
    • North of Almeria
    • Ribera del Andarax
    • Sierra Norte de Sevilla
    • Sierra Sur de Jaen
    • Las Estancias and Los Filabres Mountains
    • Torreperogil
    • Villaviciosa de Córdoba

ANDALUSIAN WINES BY PROVINCE

Andalusian wines are many and varied. We go province by province.

WINES FROM ALMERIA

Almeria is very mountainous and is usually known as an arid land, but not everything is like that. Some areas, such as those linked to the mountain massifs of Sierra Nevada, Los Filabres and Sierra de María, are quite different from the desert landscapes of the Campo de Níjar or the Tabernas Desert. Almería has 5 PGIs: Desierto de Almería, Laujar-Alpujarra, Norte de Almería, Ribera del Andarax and Sierras de Las Estancias and Los Filabres.

An Andalusian Almerian from the 13th century brings an interesting piece of news to the history of wine in Andalusia. This is the agronomist Ibn Luyun that, in its Agriculture treatise of the XIV centuryThe book, “notions for the amugronamiento of the vines, the acodo, how to plant the junquils of the vines, remedies to scare the wasps, the defoliation of the clusters, the pruning of the vine, the grafts and the suppression of the branches” (El consumo del vino en al-Andalus, Sergio Martínez Lillo).

From the 19th century until the 1970s, Almeria was one of the main producers of table grapes. In some towns, such as Ohanes, the fruit was even called “ship’s grape or shipment grape”. Vine cultivation was one of the bases of the province’s economy. The list of countries to which grapes were exported speaks for itself of the importance of Almeria grapes: England, Germany, United States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, France, Canada, Switzerland, Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, Algeria, Mexico, China, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Venezuela and India.

Grapes shipment in Almeria

Loading of grape barrels at the port of Almería.

RECOMMENDED WINES FROM ALMERIA

      • Cristina Calviche Jaen Blanca is a young single varietal white wine. It is an aromatic wine, with balsamic notes, balanced, expressive and mineral. It is aged on fine lees in tanks for 2 to 4 months. The vineyards are goblet and dry-farmed at an altitude of between 1000 and 1300 meters and are more than 80 years old. This wine has accumulated several international awards since 2009.

Wines of Andalusia, Almeria

      • Heredad from Prefer winery, is a Tempranillo of the PGI wines of the desert of Almeria. It is aged 18 months in American oak barrels. The nose has aromas of red fruits with balsamic notes and well-assembled wood. The palate is structured, well balanced, with a persistent finish.

Wines of Andalusia, Almeria

      • Bosquet Syrah Barrica is a single varietal red wine with 4 months of aging that has received many awards. The nose presents a complex bouquet with alternating notes of wood, ripe fruit, licorice and spices. In the mouth, marked acidity but balanced, leaving a long aftertaste.

Wines from Almeria

WINE FROM JAEN

Wine production in Jaen is scarce compared to other Andalusian provinces, since olive growing has developed more strongly in this land. Jaen in general, like Almería, has not been a particularly wine-producing province in Andalusia. However, throughout the twentieth century it has obtained three very interesting PGIs: Vino de la Tierra “Bailén”, “Sierra Sur de Jaen” and “Torreperogil”.

The wines of Bailén have a particularity that makes them unique and that is that they have their own grape variety. It is an autochthonous variety called Molinera grape. It is mainly used as a table grape, although some of it is used for wine production.

If you like to go beyond tasting the wines of Andalusia, in Jaen you should visit the fortress of La Mota in Alcalá la Real. Since the conquest of these territories in 1341 by Alfonso XI of Castile, vine cultivation and wine production flourished in these lands. Inside the fortress of La Mota you will find an entire neighborhood whose dwellings housed cellars in their first floors or basements dug into the rock. The wines were fermented in huge jars and exported throughout most of Andalusia. Its “red, aged, torrontés and trasañejo” wines even had a “Privilege” (document) granted by Charles V in 1526 that guaranteed the exclusivity of the sale of these Andalusian wines in the city of Granada for a few months of the year.

Wines of Andalusia, Alcalá la Real

Cellars in the first floors and basements of the dwellings of the Fortaleza de la Mota (left: Andalucía 360 / right: © Fortaleza de la Mora).

We recommend you to take a look at a video we recorded there some time ago. some time ago.

RECOMMENDED WINES FROM JAEN

    • Marcelino Serrano Etiqueta Negra  is a crianza red wine made with Syrah and Merlot. Pleasantly complex nose of black fruits, toast, coffee and balsamic aromas. The palate is well-constituted, tasty, with good concentration, noble tannins to be polished, great balance and a finish with hints of cocoa, menthol and aromatic wood. The Marcelino Serrano winery is a family vineyard committed to making quality wines and is also recovering old varieties.

Wines of Andalusia, Jaen

    • Marqués de Campoameno is a crianza selection red wine aged for 12 months in American oak barrels. It is made from Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah varieties. The nose has powerful aromas of ripe black fruit (currants), leather and coffee with a smoky and toasted background. The palate is voluminous, structured, with a marked passage and enveloping, silky tannins.

Wines from Jaén

WINES IN GRANADA

Our journey through the wines of Andalusia now reaches Granada, which has the PDO Granada and 3 PGIs called: Altiplano de Sierra Nevada, Cumbres del Guadalfeo and Laderas del Genil. Most of the wineries in Granada are family-owned or smallholdings.

GRANADA PDO

The wines with denomination of origin Granada are plurivarietal. Although the most cultivated grape variety in Granada is Tempranillo with 30.000 ha, the typical and autochthonous grape variety is the Vigiriega. Granada PDO is characterized by a higher percentage of antioxidants. The high altitude of many of the vineyards results in a continental climate with significant temperature differences between day and night. These environmental conditions define the particular character of Granada wines. In recent decades, native varieties such as the Vigiriega or the white Jaen have been recovered.

From the Granada PDO we want to highlight still wines (red, rosé and white), but also naturally sweet or late harvest wines. The sweetness of these wines comes from very ripe grapes and no wine alcohol is added during fermentation.

OTHER GRANADA WINES

Among the PGIs we would like to highlight Cumbres del Guadalfeo, which was previously known as Vinos de la Tierra Contraviesa-Alpujarra. Here the vineyards reach an altitude of over 1300 meters above sea level.

In addition to the wines PGI Cumbres del Guadalfeo, here is produced the “vino costa”, a not very commercial wine, very traditional and elaborated mainly in an artisan way in each house from the mixture of native and foreign grapes. It has a pinkish appearance and is highly appreciated by the local public. If you want to try it you have to go to a village in the Sierra de la Contraviesa or the Alpujarra and ask for it in the most genuine bar you see. We talked a little about this wine in an article about the gastronomy of Granada that we wrote a few years ago, if you like good food you will be interested in it!

The Altiplano of Granada is the area between Baza, Huéscar and Guadix, also known in part as the Geopark of Granada.

RECOMMENDED WINES

    • Viña Galira White is a wine made with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay carefully selected and harvested by hand. The yolk must is obtained and is racked for 48 hours, respecting the aromas and protecting them from oxidation through the use of inert gases. The nose is very intense with aromas of green apple, peach, tropical fruit and mineral notes from the terroir. The palate is friendly, fresh and well balanced. It has a persistent aftertaste with very pleasant fresh aromas. The winery that produces this wine is Domingo Quiles and you can visit it in Galera.

Domingo Quiles Winery. Wine from Granada

    • Other well-known wineries in Granada are Rambla Huarea, Vertijana, Muñana, Fontedei and Jabalcón.

WINES IN MALAGA

Speaking of Andalusian wines, a stop in Malaga is a must. It is the most mountainous province of Andalusia and the second in Spain. A good part of its territory is pure mountain: the Montes de Málaga, the Axarquía, the valley of the Genal, the Serranía de Ronda, etc. Its slopes were full of wine presses where musts were made for the port and wineries of Malaga capital. As mentioned above, between the late 18th and 19th centuries Malaga became one of the largest wine producers in the world. Here, expensive, exquisite and sweet wines were produced.

Fortified wines were exported from the port of Malaga to a large part of the world. However, 1878 was the turning point in their wine production. This is the year in which the first outbreak of phylloxera was detected in Malaga. It will be the beginning of the end of the international wine trade in the province. In addition to the problem generated by the insect and many other reasons, consumer tastes are progressively changing as the 20th century progresses. Fortified wines are gradually giving way to still wines, which are fresher, aromatic, less sweet and with a lower alcohol content.

Wines of Andalusia, shipment in Malaga

Shipment of wine in Malaga at the west side of the port in 1880 (Graphic collection of the Port Authority of Malaga).

Malaga currently has two PDOs: Malaga and Montes de Malaga.

PDO MÁLAGA

Geographically it is a very extensive area that occupies a part of the interior and the coast of Malaga. Only some parts around Marbella and the Sierra de las Nieves area remain outside the appellation. Under this PDO, still and liqueur wines are produced. In both cases the main varieties used are Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. Although both grapes are white, the color is usually dark due to oxidative aging and the addition of “arrope”. The latter is a wine must reduced by direct heat or bain-marie. The traditional technique of “asoleo” is also practiced, that is, ripening the grapes in the sun before extracting the juice, thus further concentrating the sugar.

The best known types of wine of this appellation are Pajarete, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Lágrima and Pale Cream. We will not go into all of them, but we will tell you a little more.

    • Pajarete de Málaga. In Malaga to ask for a sweet wine you have to ask for “un pajarete”. It is a generous liqueur wine, that is, it is fortified with wine alcohol. It cannot have added syrup and has an amber color. It is a historic wine produced more than 100 years ago and is still produced today by several wineries such as Quitapenas or Antigua Casa de Guardia.
    • Raisin wine. It is a popular wine in the province related to the “xarab al-malaquí” already mentioned. Drying of the raisins is required, which lose volume and water, so the amount of wine produced is considerably less than that from grapes that are still fresh. This is why it has a higher price than other wines. However, where this wine is most produced is in the Montilla-Moriles PDO, as we will see later on.

PDO SIERRAS DE MÁLAGA

Sierras de Málaga is a PDO that covers the entire province divided into 7 sectors. Unlike the Malaga PDO, the main production here is of still wines with a lower alcohol content, between 10 and 15.5%. They are mainly reds, sweet reds, whites and rosés. Other grape varieties also come into play: syrah, tempranillo, merlot, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and a long etcetera.

The variety of flavors and textures is very wide, since the vine cultivation is very disparate in its climate and terrain, and up to 38 grape varieties are used. In addition, in the PDO Sierras de Málaga there are also some sweet wines of great fame, such as those of the Axarquía.

Although raisins are not wine, they have as origin the same raw material and we cannot leave Malaga behind without at least mentioning the PDO “Raisins of Malaga”. In the areas of Axarquia and Manilva, the Moscatel de Malaga or Moscatel de Alejandria grapes are dried in the sun. If you have the opportunity… try them!

RECOMMENDED WINES

    • Pajarete Quitapenas. This is a PDO Malaga wine made with Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel de Alejandría grape varieties. It is a semi-sweet wine with more than 3 years of oxidative aging in American oak barrels. An oenological jewel to enjoy in good company and with Iberian sausages, rice dishes, migas, calderetas, cheeses, foie. Undoubtedly a success with all the flavor of Malaga.

Wines of Andalusia, Malaga

    • Acinipo 2000 is a red wine from Bodega F. Schatz in Ronda. All its production is organic, biodynamic, natural and without added sulfites. This wine is aged for 15 months in Slovenian oak barrels. Intense aromas of red fruits and aromatic scrubland plants, with red fruits, aromatic plants and coffee on the palate.

Wines of Ronda

    • Other Malaga wineries with good wines are Malaga Virgen and Bodegas Carpediem.
LET’S CONTINUE OUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE WINES OF ANDALUSIA

WINES FROM CORDOBA

Córdoba has two PGIs, Córdoba and Villaviciosa de Córdoba, and a PDO.

PDO MONTILLA-MORILES

Although wines are produced in many parts of the province of Córdoba, the essence is found in the PDO Montilla and Moriles. Montilla and Moriles. These are two towns in the heart of Andalusia that give their name to the appellation of origin, but which encompasses up to 17 municipalities in Córdoba, including Aguilar de la Frontera, Doña Mencía, Montalbán de Córdoba, Monturque, Nueva Carteya and Puente Genil, Baena and others. Its flagship variety is Pedro Ximénez, here 95% of the vineyard is of this grape. It is used to produce a large number of types of wines, mainly fortified wines, liqueur wines and natural sweet wines. The best known are Montilla Moriles, Tinaja, Palo Cortao, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez.

In the opinion of Pepe Béjar, a friend from Cordoba who has lent us a hand in writing this article, “Pedro Ximénez is spectacular.Pedro Ximénez is spectacular, while finos and others are different from what we are used to, stronger and more difficult, we have to get used to enjoy them.“.

We would like to take advantage of this stop in Córdoba to explain two fundamental things to understand the originality of these Andalusian wines. These are the “jar system” and the “criaderas and soleras” system.

    • Traditional jar system. The traditional system consists of fermenting the wine exclusively in large ceramic or concrete vats. Currently, the first fermentation is usually carried out in large stainless steel tanks. The wine is then transferred to a vat where fermentation is completed and the wine is decanted. Remember, we have already mentioned this system in the historical introduction, it was used by the Romans, but we also saw it in the archaeological remains of the Mota fortress in Alcalá la Real. This produces a transparent, yellowish wine with fruity and floral aromas. It is made with 95% Pedro Ximénez and has a minimum of 10% alcohol. This wine from Córdoba should be drunk very cold, around 9 degrees. Pepe recommended the “tinaja” wine from the Cooperativa La Unión de Montilla and told us that the locals call these “vinos chiquitos” (small wines).
    • Soleras and criaderas system. Almost all of the wines of the Montilla-Moriles PDO use this system, which consists of a series of barrels arranged one on top of the other. The intermediate and upper ones are called “criaderas”, the lower one is called “solera”. The youngest wine is placed in the uppermost criaderas and, from time to time, a part of the wine is moved to a lower level. The barrels are never completely emptied, keeping a part of the wine from successive vintages. From the solera, the lowest barrel or criadera, the wine is extracted for consumption. They are of a larger size and receive a blend of all the vintages of wine that have passed through the criaderas since they came into operation.
Criaderas and soleras for Andalusian wines

Diagram of the system of criaderas and soleras for Andalusian wines (image courtesy of © Consejo Regulador Jerez-Xeres-Sherry).

    • Biological aging or oxidative aging. Very briefly, the first is produced under a “veil of flor”, in other words, a layer produced naturally by the yeast that prevents the wine from coming into contact with oxygen. The second is the classic one, where oxygen comes into contact with the wine and the physicochemical process of oxidation takes place.
TO KNOW IN DEPTH THE ESSENCE OF THE PDO MONTILLA-MORILES

We take you on an all-inclusive tour.

Excursion to Montilla Moriles

PGI CÓRDOBA

The rest of the province of Córdoba is covered by the PGI. This category includes still wines, mainly reds and rosés. There are young and aged wines, the latter must be aged in oak barrels. The grape varieties used in these Andalusian wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and Tintilla de Rota.

RECOMMENDED WINES

    • Fino Capataz of Bodegas Alvear. Made from Pedro Ximénez grapes, this wine comes from the Solera de la Casa with more aging of the “finos” of the Alvear family. After 12 years of biological aging, it still keeps the flor veil alive. It walks the fine line between the older “finos” and the younger “amontillados”. Among the prizes awarded by the Ministry of Agriculture to the Best Wine of Spain and Gran Oro in competitions such as Real Casino de Madrid and Cinve.

Wines from Córdoba

    • Tinaja La Unión. This wine is made from early harvest Pedro Ximénez grapes. The grapes are selected from the oldest vines of the members of the Cooperativa La Unión de Montilla. This group of farmers was founded in 1979 and today has more than 1,800 members. The cooperative also produces oils and vinegars. The fact that they maintain 100% of the native variety is their commitment to the historical identity of the area.

Wines of Andalusia, Cordoba

    • Other wineries in Cordoba whose Andalusian wines you can taste are: Bodegas El Monte de Moriles, Maíllo de Montilla, Jesús Nazareno de Baena, Bodegas Robles, Toro Albalá in Aguilar de la Frontera and Bodegas Doblas.

WINES FROM SEVILLE

We continue on our way east and the next stop is Seville. This province makes an important contribution to the wines of Andalusia. They have 3 figures of protection: the PDO Lebrija; and two PGIs, Los Palacios and Sierra Norte de Sevilla.

LEBRIJA PDO

It is also known as Vino de Calidad de Lebrija and is the only Andalusian (and Spanish) appellation to which only one winery, Gonzalez Palacios, belongs. The following are produced here: white and red still wines; fortified wines, “Flor de Lebrija” and “Lebrija old seco”; fortified liqueur wines, “Lebrija old dulce”; natural sweet wine, “Moscatel”; and mistela.

PGI LOS PALACIOS

Under this protection are the vineyards and wineries of Los Palacios y Villafranca, Utrera, Dos Hermanas and Alcalá de Guadaíra, which would be the southeast of the city of Seville. The first news about wine production in this area date back to the 15th century, but it will be from the British demand in the 18th century when it grows more significantly.

Clean white wines of straw yellow and gold color are produced here, depending on their aging, with low sugar concentration from the Airén, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc varieties.

PGI SIERRA NORTE DE SEVILLA

Although the PGI Sierra Norte de Sevilla is a relatively recent creation (2004), the history of this Andalusian wine-growing region dates back centuries. Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries it was one of the main wine producing areas in Andalusia. As in the case of Malaga, the arrival of phylloxera led to a significant drop in wine production. Its geographical area is located in Sierra Morena, specifically in the municipalities of Alanís, Cazalla de la Sierra, Constantina and Guadalcanal. Still white, rosé and red wines are produced here with the grape varieties Chardonnay, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscatel de Alejandría, Palomino, Pedro Ximénez, Viognier, Tempranillo, Garnacha Tinta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Syrah and Tintilla de Rota.

RECOMMENDED WINES

    • Cocolubis is a wine made from Tempranillo grapes, matured 22 months in Spanish oak barrels and harvested at night. It has aromas of black fruit and ripe plum, a powerful wine with great balance. It has been 5 times best wine of the province of Seville and has 5 gold medals in France (Gilbert & Gallard). It is produced by La Margarita winery, a relatively young company that works with the utmost care throughout the process.

Wines of Andalusia, Seville

    • Cologne 40 2022 is a red wine, aged for 14 months, organic and produced by the Colonias de Galeón winery. The nose maintains its youthful soul with flowers and red fruits such as raspberry, with notes of white pepper, aromatic herbs and a vanilla background. On the palate, a fine and elegant entry with very good acidity and a subtle yet savory passage through the palate. Marked tannins with a balsamic and very seductive finish.

Seville wines

    • Other interesting wineries in Seville are: Alquería de Pruna, González Palacios to taste its Lebrija Old or Flor de Lebrija and Bodegas Tierra Savia and its organic wine.

WINES FROM CADIZ

To talk about the wines of Cadiz we would have to write several posts or, rather, an extensive guide on the subject, because in the province of Cadiz is the known as Marco de Jerez. This is a wine region that includes the municipalities of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa María, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Chiclana de la Frontera, Chipiona, Puerto Real, Rota, Trebujena and Lebrija (the latter in the province of Seville).

This territory is so peculiar because of the extraordinary connection it has historically had with the ocean. It is located between the Guadalquivir and Guadalete rivers and adjoining territories that, for 2000 years, have undergone a process of natural desiccation. This is the Lacus Ligustinus or Tartessian Gulf, a spectacular lagoon that extended the seashore to Seville itself. Today it is a fertile land fed by the deposits of the Guadalquivir with a landscape of plains, small hills and marshes.

PDO SHERRY-XERÈS-SHERRY

This appellation of origin is perhaps the most internationally renowned of Andalusian wines. This is due to the consistent export of Sherry wines to both the American and Northern European markets. In fact, some important wineries were built with British capital, as is the case of Williams and Humbert.

The geographical area is defined by the municipalities of the Marco de Jerez that we indicated a few paragraphs above. The territory is characterized by a mild climate exposed to the Atlantic where there is no frost and summer temperatures do not exceed 35 degrees. The soil is composed of clayey loams of a characteristic whitish color called “albarizas”.

As a curiosity, we would like to mention that there are “Jerez Superior” vineyards. These are a series of areas where the grapes are of higher quality than the rest.

Old sherry cellar

Bodega de vino en Jerez, engraving from the end of the 18th century (Unknown author and attributed to the Spanish school).

Its flagship variety is the Palomino grape, but Listán Blanco or Palomino Fino, Pedro Ximénez, Moscatel de Alejandría, Beba, Perruno and Vigiriega are also used.

As for the wines, generosos, generosos de licor and natural sweet wines are produced. We tell you a little about them.

    • Fortified wines. Biological aging is used with the system of crianzas and soleras that we have already explained in Montilla Moriles (above). The wines produced are Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso and Palo Cortado.
    • Liqueur wines. Here the “cabeceo” (combination of wines) is one of the centuries-old practices that define its flavor. Its wines are Pale Dry, Medium and Cream.
    • Natural sweet wines. Its characteristic ripe fruit flavor and high sugar concentration is due, in part, to the practice of “asoleo” that we have already seen in the Malaga PDO. The natural sweet wines of Jerez are Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez and Dulce.

The cathedral architecture of the bodegas of Jerez, a historical heritage that dates back to the 17th century but which we will leave for another post, deserves a separate mention.

PDO MANZANILLA – SANLÚCAR DE BARRAMEDA

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is the birthplace of the famous manzanillaa fortified wine with a seafaring character that has been recorded at least since the 18th century. It is made with Palomino, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel. Manzanilla wine is aged under flor veil and with the soleras and criaderas system. It has a straw yellow tone, aroma with floral notes and slight bitter aftertaste.

“Flor de velo” in sherry wines (image courtesy of © Consejo Regulador Jerez-Xeres-Sherry).

As an anecdote we will tell you that initially it was considered a type of wine within the PDO Jerez, but years later it got its own independent protection figure. The vineyards are spread throughout the Marco de Jerez, however the wine must be aged in Bodegas de Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

PGI CÁDIZ

Within this protection category are red, rosé and white still wines, from dry to sweet, produced in the following geographical area: Arcos de la Frontera, Chiclana de la Frontera, Chipiona, El Puerto de Santa María, Jerez de la Frontera, Prado del Rey, Puerto Real, Rota, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Trebujena, Olvera, Setenil, Villamartín, Bornos and San José del Valle. They are made from a wide variety of grapes, in albariza soils and with a temperate climate as befits Cádiz.

RECOMMENDED WINES

Recommending a wine in Cádiz is something really difficult, because the variety is so wide that just thinking about it is overwhelming. However, we have left the responsibility to two experienced wine lovers from Cadiz, Domingo and Pelayo.

    • Leonor is a Palo Cortao Jerezano from the González Byass winery. A singular wine marked by a certain aura of mystery. Perhaps its elegance on the nose and friendliness on the palate are its hallmarks. Originally, wines with good qualities for aging as fino, biologically aged under “velo de flor”, but which, usually due to an error in the manual heading of the wines, this protective mantle of yeasts did not proliferate, turning their aging to oxidative. The result is an oloroso wine that, on the nose, resembles an amontillado, but on the palate it has the fatness of an oloroso.

Wines of Andalusia, Jerez

    • Amontillado Solera of the Cayetano del Pino winery. Fortified wine made from the palomino variety and elaborated with the traditional system of criaderas and solera. In this winery they have kept all the essence of the old wines. In the case of the amontillado solera, it is aged for an average of 18 years. Clean, bright and amber-colored, it has a fine, sharp aroma that is ideal for pairing with cheeses and cured meats.

Wines of Andalusia, Jerez

    • There are many wineries in Cadiz, but some wines that have been recommended to us are: Bodegas Luis Pérez and try the Samaruco or Garum; Osborne and its olorosos; Primitivo Collantes and its wine Fino Arroyuelo; and from Bodega Miguel Domecq the Entrechuelos Chardonnay.

WINES FROM HUELVA

Finally we reach the westernmost province of our community, a fertile and mining land where some of the most unique wines of Andalusia are produced. Here the flagship variety is the Zalema. Numerous historical documents have been preserved in this province, revealing the importance of wine since the 14th century.

The Atlantic coast favored the trade of these Andalusian wines throughout much of the world, first from the ports of Huelva, Palos and Moguer, and later from the ports of Cádiz.

PDO CONDADO DE HUELVA

This Huelva denomination of origin does not cover the entire province. The demarcated area extends through the central/southern zone and borders the Doñana National Park. The municipalities of Almonte, Beas, Bollullos Par del Condado, Bonares, Chucena, Gibraleón, Hinojos, La Palma del Condado, Lucena del Puerto, Manzanilla, Moguer, Niebla, Palos de la Frontera, Rociana del Condado, San Juan del Puerto, Trigueros, Villalba del Alcor and Villarrasa would be included.

Here, wines of great quality and variety are produced: still wines (whites, reds and rosés), fortified wines (Condado Pálido or Fino, Condado Viejo or Oloroso, Amontillado and Palo Cortado), fortified liqueur wines (Pale Dry, Pale Cream, Medium and Cream) and sweet liqueur wines (Dulce, Mistela, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel).

The fermentation of the Huelva wines is carried out in American oak barrels in a microclimate with low thermal oscillation (15-22º). The large cellars with high ceilings and clay floors are sometimes watered to maintain the necessary humidity and temperature.

ORANGE WINE FROM THE COUNTY OF HUELVA (DENOMINATION OF AROMATIZED WINES)

The origin of this wine is not precise, but from the 19th century onwards it began to be successfully marketed by Bodegas Diezmo Nuevo. The famous “orange wine” is an aromatized wine made from white wines from the Condado de Huelva PDO or from a fresh grape must quenched with alcohol from the same area. The flavoring process is carried out with the maceration of orange peels. The wine is aged for about two years using the soleras and criaderas system. It is a unique, very special wine that represents the hallmark of an entire Andalusian wine region.

RECOMMENDED WINES

    • The Saenz Orange Wine of Bodegas Diezmo Nuevo is a generous and sweet wine. It has an intense flavor with a predominance of orange. It is handcrafted according to a formula dating back to 1870 and fermented in oak barrels. In Huelva it is taken to accompany desserts, snacks with pastries and even breakfasts.

Orange wine from Huelva

    • The last wine that we are going to recommend is the Garay Luz of Bodega Garay. Here they produce wines from their own vineyards in a traditional way and were also the first certified organic in Huelva. In 2015 they released their first Orange Wine, which has nothing to do with the traditional Huelva Orange Wine. An “orange” is nothing more than a white wine, but made in the manner of a red wine, i.e. the must is macerated with its skins. This way of elaboration was very typical in Georgia and the Portuguese Alentejo, but not in the rest of the areas until a few years ago it started to become popular. At Bodega Garay, this maceration is carried out in clay amphorae in which the contact with the skins lasts more than five or six months. The result is a wine with the essence of the zalema grape. Regarding the name of the wine, Garay Luz, it honors the coast of Huelva and those sunsets in Matalascañas or Isla Cristina where the sky becomes a mesmerizing orange.

Garay winery in Huelva

    • Other wineries to taste Huelva wines are: Bodegas Mam, Nuestra Señora del Socorro and Bodega Oliveros among others.

OLD WINE CELLARS IN ANDALUCÍA

When we get excited about the subject we tend to get carried away with the articles, and this time it happened again. It has been so long that we are going to leave the topic of the old Andalusian wineries for another post.

THIS CONCLUDES OUR JOURNEY THROUGH THE WINES OF ANDALUSIA.

Now it’s time to experience it

Excursion to Montilla Moriles

THANK YOU

On this occasion we have to thank our winemaker friend Eva Pérez and Sonia Berges, a professional in the wine sector in Granada, our closest help. Pepe Béjar father and son have given us a hand with the wines of Córdoba. Crisant Olive, friend and expert with whom we have talked to clarify fundamental doubts. Domingo Romero and Pelayo have recommended the wines of Cádiz, a real challenge. Finally, we would like to thank the Andalusian wineries that have allowed us to use their images and have provided us with the requested information.

For further information, we recommend reading serious and rigorous works that we have consulted:

    • “Jerez; municipium ceretanum?”, 1999, Carmen Castillo García.
    • “El vino en época tardoantigua y medieval”, 2008, in “Simposio internacional arqueología del vino”.
    • “El vino en la moneda griega. Buscando interpretación y significado a su iconografía”, 2005, Ana Vico Belmonte.
    • “La crisis finisecular del vino de Málaga. Cambio del modelo de producción y caída del comercio (1878-1933)”, 2022, Francisco Manuel Pérez Hidalgo.
    • Malaga wines and the ordinances of 1611
    • “Cultura tradicional del vino en Jaen”, 2011, José Rodríguez Molina.
    • “En los márgenes de la ley: el consumo de alcohol en al-Andalus”, 2003, Manuela Martín.

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