Wine-growing region Andalusia
Even if the production of "normal" white and red wines has been increasing steadily for several decades, the wine for which Andalusia has become famous worldwide is sherry in its many varieties, from dry to sweet and sweet. The export alone amounts to over 300,000 hectolitres annually, mainly to Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany..
Six classified production areas for Andalusia wine
The most famous wines of Andalusia are undoubtedly the sherry and the Malaga wine. In total there are six classified production areas with the D.O. (Denominación de Origen):
- Sierras de Málaga
- condado de Huelva
- Manzanilla de Sanlúcar
Short descriptions of the Andalusia D.O.s
The wines from the classified areas are by no means identical, but they do have some similarities. Most of them have a high alcohol content and are quite strong, which makes them particularly interesting as an aperitif or digestif.
One of the most popular representatives of the genus is the Jerez de la Frontera from the province of Cádiz. This typical Andalusian wine goes through a very special production process. First, a dry white wine is pressed from the Palomino grape and, after fermentation, brandy is added, increasing the alcohol content from 11 to 13 to 15.5% by volume. For sweetening, some sherries are made with the addition of wines made from Moscatel or Pedro Ximenez grapes before bottling. The common names for dry sherries are Fino and Oloroso, for the semi-sweet to sweet Pale Cream, Cream and Pedro Ximénez.
The province Málaga is located approximately in the middle of the south coast of Andalusia. Málaga is commonly associated with the ice cream of the same name. However, it is a sweet to sweet wine made from Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel and Airén grapes, which, like sherry, is fortified with alcohol. In the past, the grapes were left to dry before making wine. However, this method is no longer used. Malaga wine is often enjoyed after a sumptuous meal, but it is also used to refine dishes in the high kitchen.
Sierras de Málaga
The wines from this production area are an exception among the Andalusian wines. Around Málaga, dry wines are also produced. Rosé and red wines are made from grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Romé and Tempranillo, white wines from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeo. Their share in the total production is still small, but the best wines are increasingly appreciated by connoisseurs.
Condado de Huelva
This D.O. is located in western Andalusia on the Atlantic coast. The white grape variety Zalema dominates the region with over 80 percent of the cultivated area. It is used to make the sherry-like Condado Viejo, but also the Condado Jóven, a young, fresh, dry white wine.
South of Cordoba lies the Montilla-Moriles growing region. On an area of about 10,000 hectares, mainly the Pedro Ximénez grape variety grows, followed by Moscatel, Verdejo and Torrontés. The fermentation of the wines with high alcohol content takes place here in huge clay jugs. Colour and taste are similar to sherry. However, some of the grape must is also processed into Vino Jóven, table wine and brandy.
Manzanilla de Sanlúcar
The dry white Manzanilla is obtained from the Palomino grape. The special feature of this wine is that a special layer of yeast - Spanish Flor - protects it from oxidation during fermentation and is responsible for its unique character - a fresh, palatable drinking experience with slight acidity.
The geographical conditions for Andalusian wine
The Sierra Nevada and its forerunners are the main features of the vast Andalusian countryside. Steep slopes alternate with gentle hills, whose soils consist mainly of limestone, sandstone and clay. They provide valuable minerals and are good stores for warmth and moisture, which they give back to the vines at night or on dry days.
Due to the topography, the 25,000 hectares of cultivated area are mainly distributed among small vineyards and vineyards on the coast and at altitudes of up to 700 metres. The climate of Andalusia is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild winters with partly abundant rainfall. In total, there are on average 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.
In Andalusia, white grapes are cultivated to the largest part. Because of the hot temperatures in summer they gain a high must weight. This characterizes the sherries and the liqueur and sweet wines from Málaga, their high alcohol content and the typical, oxidative taste. The most important grape varieties are:
- Palomino Fino, a very old white vine - the classic grape for sherry.
- Pedro Ximénez, a white grape with very high must weight. It is the second most important grape variety for sherry after Palomino.
- Moscatel, a sherry grape with very fruity notes, which thrives on sandy soils in a maritime climate.
- Zalema, an autochthonous white vine, which is mainly cultivated in the region of Condado de Huelva, where it occupies the lion's share of the cultivated area.
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