Andalusia (Andalucía in Spanish) composes most of the south of Spain, and it's the heart of many renowned Spanish traditions like flamenco and bullfighting. Although not very buoyant in its economy, Andalusia is a popular destination for tourists visiting Spain, mainly because of its warm weather and welcoming people, but also because it's the perfect image of the traditional Spanish way of life. Enjoy traditional Andalusian cities like Granada, with its Moorish architecture; or be amazed by Marbella's glamour, all the time while enjoying one of the great Andalusian wines available everywhere.
There are so many varieties of Andalusian wines, one has to wonder where do they all come from? The answer is the region's unique conditions. Andalusia's size and its geographical and climatic varieties make it possible to compare this autonomous community with some of the smaller European countries. In fact, an Andalusian historian once said that due to its sheer size, Andalusia couldn't be thought of as one geographical unit, but as three different ones: The Andalusia of the Guadalquivir river, low in the valley; and the two Andalusias of the mountain ranges of Sierra Morena and the Cordilleras Penibéticas, high in the clouds. This, together with the fact that Andalusia's coasts are bathed by the Mediterranean Sea on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east, make this region a land of contrasts and cultural richness very popular. Who wouldn't want to spend their summer in one of the most beautiful places in Spain? On top of it all, you can use the opportunity to learn Spanish in Spain, the most widely spoken language in the world.
Viticulture has been a part of Andalusia for centuries, and contributes to the high quality of Andalusian wines. The oldest viticulture testimony comes from the arrival of the Greeks, and ever since it has become a very important part of Andalusian culture. The heterogeneous quality of the region's soil makes it excellent for any kind of agriculture, and the micro climate variations found throughout the whole of the autonomous community account for all the different types of Andalusian wines.
DOs (designations of origin) of Andalusian wines
The most popular designation of origin in Andalusia is the DO Jerez, under which the famous andalusian sherry is produced. There are several other designations of origin in Andalusia that produce good wines, such as DO Málaga or DO Condado de Huelva, but they are less known.
Jerez is, without doubt, the star in Andalusian wines. This variety has become so popular that one can't imagine Andalusia without thinking about the Jerez wines. Many say the best part of the day is the mid-morning appetizer with a serving of really cold Fino. In fact, Jerez wines are so important to the Andalusian culture that we've decided to dedicate a whole page to them.
The DO Málaga - Sierra de Málaga was established at the same time as the DO Jerez, in 1933, during Spain's II Republic. Their wines are produced only with white grapes, unlike most of the wineries in Spain which specialize in red wines. Do you want to learn more about Málaga wines?
DO Condado de Huelva
Although the DO Condado de Huelva wasn't established until 1963, the Andalusian wines produced here have been quite popular since the 15th century after the Reconquest, when noble lords donated acres of land to promote the planting of vineyards. In the years following this, the villages surrounding the area became richer and richer and the wines better and more popular. So popular, in fact, that when the first wines were shipped to America in 1502, this was one of the chosen varieties that would make it to the New World. They are called "Discovery Wines". Those living in the new world were eager to learn from the Spanish to be able to make their own wines, but for a while they had to do with imported ones.
The grape varieties used for these wines are Zalema, Palomino Fino, Listán de Huelva, Garrido Fino, Moscatel de Alejandría and Pedro Ximénez. They can come from almost any part in the southwest of Huelva, but the aging has to be done in Almonte, Bollullos Par del Condado, Chucena, La Palma del Condado, Manzanilla, Moguer, Rociana del Condado, San Juan del Puerto or Villalba del Alcor.
The of wines in the DO Condado de Huelva are either young white fruity wines with a moderate alcoholic percentage or generous white wines (also known as liquor wines) aged for at least 2 years. Thus, the types of Andalusian wines in this DO are:
- Condado de Huelva: young white wines, produced the same year they're bottled, sold in bulk. Alcohol content: 11-13%.
- Condado de Huelva Joven: white wines that come from the Zalema variety grapes, bottled when they reach an alcohol content of around 11-14%.
- Condado de Huelva Pálido: generous wine with an alcohol content of around 15-17%.
- Condado de Huelva Viejo: generous wine, aged in oak barrels and with an alcohol content of between 15% and 23%.
The DO Montilla-Moriles is found in the southern part of Córdoba, near Granada. The quality of these Andalusian wines go so far back that even when the Muslims invaded Córdoba, they decided to keep the vineyards, which weren't torn down until 110 years after the Conquest. The current DO was created in 1932.
The wines of the DO Montilla-Moriles are produced with white grapes, mostly of the Pedro Ximénez variety although others such as Moscatel or Baladí are also allowed. As with wines from the DO Jerez, wines produced under the DO Montilla-Moriles are aged using the "soleras y criaderas" system. The types of wine produced are:
- Finos: light in color, dry, slightly bitter and with an almond scent.
- Amontillados: dry, with a deep hazelnut smell and a strong amber color.
- Olorosos: full bodied, with a strong scent and mahogany in color.
- Pedro Ximénez: quite similar to the Olorosos, but less intense in scent an taste.
- Palos Cortados: generous wine which taste like the Olorosos and look like the Amontillados.
- Moscatel: sweet wines produced exclusively with over ripe Moscatel grapes, which gives them their characteristic sweet flavor.