Axarquia, Costa del Sol, Andalucia, Spain


Wine production in Spain is classified into more than 50 demarcated regions which have received the category of Denominación de Origen (D.O.). This is a seal of quality control that guarantees the origin and class of grape, as well as the methods used for its elaboration. All bottles coming from accredited wineries in a D.O. region will be indicated as such on the back label. Bottles without this seal can still contain good or excellent wines but the best Spanish bodegas tend to subscribe to the D.O. system. Below we have listed some of the most popular wines likely to be found in supermarkets and restaurants.
Cariñena - an area in southern Zaragoza producing predominately robust reds, strong in alcohol and fresher clarets, equally strong.
Condado de Huelva - the light, young white wines are best from this region of Andaluca. However, much of its grape production goes to Jerez for elaboration into brandy.
Jerez-Xéres-Sherry - a famous drink consumed since Roman times and produced in one small region of Andalucia. For further details see sherry.
Jumilla - The D.O. areas of Jumilla, Yecla, Alicante and Almansa lie in central eastern Spain and produce fairly similar table wines which are, in general, fruity and full-bodied. The black Monastrell grape predominates, giving mainly reds and rosés. Jumilla's popular and economical vinos de mesa are widely marketed throughout the country.
La Mancha - Over 400,000 hectares of land are under vine in La Mancha, producing more than a third of Spain's total wine output. The predominate grape is the white Airén and the area is best known for its white wines, rosés and clarets, all mostly young vinos de mesa.
Malaga - known since Roman times, Málaga's dessert wines are still popular today. Moscatel and Pedro Ximénez grapes are grown in the mountains to the north of the city then matured using the solera system in the town's bodegas. Styles vary from dry amontillados to the more typical dessert wines, traditionally sweetened with a must evaporated down in copper pans. Alcohol content varies widely between 14° and 20°. See also Malagenean Wine.
Montilla- Moriles - This area lies 45 kilometres south of Córdoba and has traditionally been known for its aperitif and dessert wines. Recently it has also started to produce young white table wines. The principal grape is the Pedro Ximénez, traditionally fermented in large earthenware vats, or tinajas. The wine is then matured in barrels in the same way as sherry using the solera system, except that being one of the hottest and sunniest parts of Spain, the grapes are so rich in sugar and produce so much alcohol that they don't need fortifying in any way. The wine comes in different styles similar to sherry and by far the most popular is the pale dry fino. Refreshing and aromatic, it is best drunk as an aperitif.
Navarra - Navarran vineyards supply much of the grapes for Riojan wineries as well as for their own respected bodegas. Vintages are often similar to those of Rioja, being of the same grape processed in the same way, and the area is a traditional producer of full-bodied reds, clarets and rosés but fewer whites.
Penedés - a principal wine-growing area in Catalunia, southwest of Barcelona on the coast. The whites are fresh, fruity and aromatic, often being elaborated into sparkling wine, commonly known as cava. Reds are smooth, light and, like the whites, moderate in alcohol.
Ribeiro - the most important of Galicia's two D.O. areas, Ribeiro's white wines are light, sharp and fresh, reminiscent of the tangy vinhos verdes (green wines) of neighbouring Portugal.
Ribera del Duero - close to Burgos and on the banks of the Rio Ebro, Ribera del Duero has developed a good reputation for its solid red wines.
Rioja - now a household name throughout Spain and much of Europe. The Rioja region stretches more than 100 kilometres down the Ebro valley in the north of the country and is divided into three sub-regions: Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa to the west, and Rioja Baja to the east. The first two are hillier with a more Atlantic climate and produce the better-balanced wines, more acidic for longer life and less alcoholic. The heavier vintages from Rioja Baja are stronger in alcohol and used more for blending.

More than 80% of Riojan wines are red, falling into the two categories of red and claret. These are usually matured in casks to give that distinctive oaky flavour, though more is aged nowadays in bottle. Most of the white wines are light, fruity and young, made by the cold fermentation process, while others are still traditionally aged in oak like the reds and have more character.

Rueda - Rueda is best known for its good white wines which are fresh, smooth and fruity, although the region also produces vinos generosos, or fortified wines.
Utiel-Requena - this region produces popular clarets but is best known for its light and fragrant rosés.
Valdepeñas - Valdepeñas occupies a small island in the sea of La Mancha. Almost completely swamped by the largest wine production area in the country, this small region produces better quality table wines than its neighbour at very economic prices, often found as house wine in the restaurants. Its reds and clarets are a mixture of red and white grapes, traditionally fermented in huge earthenware jars (now stainless steel). The wines are fresh, light and dry and best drunk young.
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