The ancient lands of southwestern Spain have been planted to vineyards for nearly 3,000 years. But this part of Iberia was long under the control of the Moors and Islam, and winemaking was discouraged if not outright forbidden here from 711 to 1492.
To most visitors, Andalucía appears as more moonscape than landscape; hot and arid, rugged and hard, it conforms to the image many Americans have of Spain in general. But Andalucía’s mountains carry other possibilities. With abrupt shifts in elevation, fascinating dessert wines have been produced within areas in Montilla-Moriles and Málaga.
And Andalucía’s most famous wine area, Jerez (Sherry), receives more rainfall than most other parts of southern Spain. That rain is captured by the special limestone-rich soils of the area, called albariza, that bake in the summer sun into a hard crust, trapping cool moisture for the vines’ needs.
Sherry’s multiplicity is a bewildering obstacle for too many people. It’s actually simple: Sherry is fortified wine. It’s fortified after the fermentation, so unlike Port, all Sherry begins its life as a dry wine.