Andalucia’s Famous Wine Area Map

Andalucía

The ancient lands of southwestern Spain have been planted to vineyards for nearly 3,000 years. But this part of Iberia was long under the control of the Moors and Islam, and winemaking was discouraged if not outright forbidden here from 711 to 1492.

To most visitors, Andalucía appears as more moonscape than landscape; hot and arid, rugged and hard, it conforms to the image many Americans have of Spain in general. But Andalucía’s mountains carry other possibilities. With abrupt shifts in elevation, fascinating dessert wines have been produced within areas in Montilla-Moriles and Málaga.

And Andalucía’s most famous wine area, Jerez (Sherry), receives more rainfall than most other parts of southern Spain. That rain is captured by the special limestone-rich soils of the area, called albariza, that bake in the summer sun into a hard crust, trapping cool moisture for the vines’ needs.

Sherry’s multiplicity is a bewildering obstacle for too many people. It’s actually simple: Sherry is fortified wine. It’s fortified after the fermentation, so unlike Port, all Sherry begins its life as a dry wine.

Condado de Huelva is an old DO in south-western Andalucia, close to the border with Portugal. In the southern section of the DO lies the Coto de Doñana, a natural wetland and ornithologists' paradise now classified as a natural park.

County of Huelva enjoys ideal conditions for growing grapes: mild in winter and spring and long, hot summers of evident Atlantic influence, with an average annual temperature in the region of 17 ° C and oscillating relative humidity between 60% and 80%.

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This classic DO, known for centuries for its sweet fortified wines made from Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez grapes, is holding its own remarkably well after decades of recession under the pressure of tourism.

Geographically, the DO forms a T-shape, with the vineyards running along the coast to the east of Málaga city, and back up towards the sierras. A smaller third subzone lies to the west of the city.

Today, the DO is even enjoying a slight renaissance as its dessert wines are being rediscovered. Málaga producers, like those elsewhere in Andalucía, are adapting to the changing market demands for lighter wine and have set up the new Sierra de Málaga DO to allow young wines to be made in the same geographical area.

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Montilla-Moriles lies at the centre of a historical triangle that may be drawn between Granada, Seville and Córdoba city. It lies in Córdoba province. Today the vines share the space with wheat and olives to give the classical Mediterranean trilogy: bread, wine and oil.

Its wines are often wrongly though it of simply as another Sherry, although its history is as distinguished as that of its more famous Sherry neighbour. The main grape, Pedro Ximénez, makes it distinct.

There are three basic types of Montilla wine: young fruity wines, aged (crianza) wines and generosos, which have aged in a Solera system and include a wide range of styles from fino to amontillado - a style invented here in the 18th-century - to oloroso. Its PX wines -that is, Pedro Ximénez- are of increasing importance. They are also, legally, sold to Jerez and Málaga producers. Experimental plantations of light wine grapes, as yet not permitted in DO wines, suggests that Montilla-Moriles may well be toying with the idea of a separate sub-denomination to produce young red and white wines.

The climate offers potential for registered organic growing, which has just begun.

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Jerez-Xérès-Sherry and Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda, both situated in the province of Cadiz, are separate DOs that share the same vineyards and Regulatory Council (Consejo Regulador), established in 1933. They also share similar traditional methods of winemaking based on the Solera and Criaderas system, a method of dynamic ageing in butts (oak barrels) which allows young wines to take on the characteristics of older ones.

Jerez has exported wines since at least Roman times, and today its wines account for the greatest volume of any Spanish DO exports. They are sold in more than fifty countries. The enormous international commercial success of these wines is, to a large degree, due to the long export tradition of great wineries, the broad consumer range and the wine's exceptional quality, which has its source in the unique winemaking and ageing processes.

Jerez DO, established in 1933, was one of the first DOs in Spain. The past few years have witnessed a widening range of wines available on the market and, thanks to the meticulous work of the winemakers and the initiatives undertaken by the Regulatory Council, a small amount of DO wines which are subjected to a prolonged ageing process and sold with the certification of Vino de Jerez Con Vejez Calificada (Rare Old Sherries) on the back label. This certification from the Regulatory Council is granted to Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado and Pedro Ximenez wines aged more than twenty and thirty years.

All these factors have combined to increase profits for the producers, the majority of whom have reinvested in improvements in their wineries.

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