wine-searcher.com / Andalucia Wine
This vibrant region is the most populous in Spain, and has a colorful history. Its strategic position at the gateway to the Mediterranean and its proximity to Africa have made it a target for many invasions throughout history. Muslims, Romani, Iberians, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Vandals, Visigoths, Byzantines, Christians and Castilians have all called Andalucia home at some stage, and each culture has left its mark. The name Andalucía is in fact derived from the Arabic name for the region, Al-Andalus, which is said to be a corruption of Vandalusia, meaning «land of the vandals,» a reference to the brief period in the 5th Century when the Vandals ruled this area. As a result of this multicultural past, Andalucia has a strong and unique cultural identity. Bull-fighting and flamenco, two quintessential traditions associated with Spain, actually originated in Andalucia.
Aside from its spectacular Moorish architecture, beautiful coastline and diverse landscape, Andalucia boasts a long history of winemaking dating back to the 8th Century BC and houses five DOs. Although table wines are also made here, it is really the fortified wines that unite the various DO zones. These wines range from light and refreshing Fino and Manzanilla Sherry to full-bodied, lusciously sweet Pedro Ximenez ‘PX‘.
Easily the most celebrated DO is Jerez, the historic port and home of Sherry, and the neighboring seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda has carved out a reputation for its Manzanilla. Montilla-Moriles, the most northern of Andalucia’s DOs, specializes in unfortified dessert wines made from Moscatel. Malaga and Sierras de Malaga, which occupy the same area but are separate DOs, produce sweet wines and dry table wines respectively.
The region’s climate, which significantly affects wine production here, can be broadly divided into three zones: the cooler, Atlantic-influenced west coast, encompassing the Sherry-producing areas of Jerez and Sanlucar de Barrameda; the Mediterranean climate in the south around Malaga and the Sierras de Malaga; and the comparatively hot and dry conditions around the Montilla-Moriles. The latter two zones are the most suited to production of Andalucia’s signature heavy dessert wines, made from Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel (Muscat) grapes, while the southwest coast’s lower average temperatures are vital for preserving all-important acidity in Palomino grapes for the production of the Fino and Manzanilla styles of Sherry.
Airen is another important grape variety, grown in the northern parts of Andalucia, although it is mostly used in brandy and blended wines.