Not too long ago Spanish wine was pretty simple stuff, it was thought of as pretty decent but had none of the revered status of other nations such as France or Italy. Only the wines of the north of Spain were taken seriously, except Sherry of course.
This preconception of Spanish wines being fairly ordinary has, over the last few decades, been turned on its head, and Spanish wines are finally getting the recognition that they deserve. It seems that there is no region in Spain that cannot produce decent wine, and that includes Andalusia.
This large province of southern Spain has been producing fortified wines or sherries for generations, but it has not been famous for any other type of wine. Things have changed considerably and new wine makers have seen the potential in this region of Spain.
The palomino grape which is used in the making of sherry is also good for making excellent dry white wines, and the extremely long sounding Castillo de San Diego Palomino Fina Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz has been wowing international wine critics over recent years. It is a sort of an ultra-ripe version of Muscadet from Antonio Armadillo’s estate.
The variation of Andalusian wine seems to be expanding and there is definitely more on offer in the different regions around Cadiz and Granada. Leading the charge seems to be Vino de la Tierra de Cadiz appellation which is producing some superb wines.
Wines of the Alpujarra Mountains
The wines of Andalusia seem to be centered around the new wine area of the Alpujarra Mountains which are just to the south of Granada. This is one of the most beautiful parts of southern Spain, and although it can be baking hot there is a considerable water supply from the many rivers of the Sierra Nevada.
The whole region is fertile and perfect for citrus and wine production, and the famous book Driving Over Lemons was set in the area. The upper parts of the slopes of the Sierra Nevada is the best location for viticulture as the soil is drier and not so rich.
The landscape is what many tourists consider as rustic Spain, arid and dry but now it is dotted with many new bodegas that have grown in the past few decades. Mostly these bodegas are small affairs and one-man-band operations.
What is now different to past years is that many of these vintners are now ambitious to create great wine, not to be big businesses but to operate boutique wineries to grow the best grapes and to produce high quality wines that reflect the terroir and the region as a whole.
The local grape that is grown around Granada seems to be the Vigiriega which is also quite successful in the Canary Islands. This grape can produce fine, dry wine that is particularly good as a sparkling variation. The acidity is high but has a distinctly fruity flavor of Apricots.
In part two of this bog about the wines of Andalusia and the Granada region, we look at some of the wines in more detail and their makers.