Wines of Málaga: everything you need to know
Málaga boasts a thousand-year-old tradition of vine growing and winemaking
This passion for winemaking dates back to the Phoenicians, who planted vines, and produced and marketed the first Málaga wines more than 3,000 years ago. There are also numerous traces from Roman times that reveal the social and economic importance of wine production in this region.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Málaga's vineyards underwent an unprecedented expansion and, thanks to maritime trade, the wines produced reached worldwide fame and were exported abroad, mainly to the English markets, where they received the name of Mountain Wine, the “wine of the mountains.”
At the end of the 19th century, when Málaga wines were at their peak and were being exported halfway around the world from the Port of Málaga, a devastating phylloxera plague wiped out all the vines and the industry's bonanza. It was well into the 20th century, when these wines regained their place thanks to the work of the Regulatory Council of the Designation of Origin Málaga, a corporation officially established in 1933, making it the oldest in Spain. As early as 1900, the Regulations of the “Asociación Gremial de Criadores Exportadores de Vino de Málaga,” (“Málaga Wine Exporting Producers” Guild Association) were drawn up, which could be considered a predecessor of the regulations of this Designation of Origin.
At present, the Málaga wine production area is made up of 67 municipalities located in five production areas: Axarquía, Montes de Málaga, Norte, Manilva and Serranía de Ronda. The wines they make are mainly still wines without the addition of alcohol, which can be sweet or dry, and liqueur wines, which are dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet or sweet.
The wines of the Designation of Origin Málaga are made mainly with the white varieties Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel and receive different traditional mentions according to their characteristics depending on their ageing, colour and elaboration. Thus, according to their ageing, they are called Pálido, if aged for up to six months; Noble, if aged for two to three years; Añejo, if aged for three to five years; and Málaga Trasañejo, if aged for more than five years.
According to their colour, and from lesser to greater grape syrup content - a wine must be reduced by direct heat or bain-marie that gives Málaga wine its characteristic colour - they can be: Dorado or Golden, Rojo Dorado or Rot Gold, Oscuro or Brown, Color y Negro or Dunkel.
Sierras de Málaga
In 2001 the Designation of Origin “Sierras de Málaga” was created in response to the need to diversify the production of Málaga's vineyards towards white, rosé, red and sweet red wines. It was then that the management body was renamed Regulatory Council of the Designation of Origin “Málaga” and “Sierras de Málaga,” Regulating Council of the Designations of Origin “Málaga” and “Sierras de Málaga.” In 2004 the merger took place between this and the Regulatory Council of the Designation of Origin “Pasas de Málaga.”
For the “Sierras de Málaga” Designation of Origin, the production area is extended to the whole province, with all municipalities in seven smaller units than the protected area: Axarquía, Costa Occidental, Manilva, Montes de Málaga, Norte de Málaga, Serranía de Ronda and Sierra de las Nieves.
Sierras de Málaga wines can be made with white varieties such as Pedro Ximenez, Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel Morisco, Chardonnay, Macabeo, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, Lairen, Doradilla and Gewürztraminer, among others. They are also made with red grapes, such as Romé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shyrah, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot and Monastrell, along with other varieties.
Most of the wineries operating in the province of Málaga are under the umbrella of the Regulatory Council of the Designations of Origin “Málaga,” “Sierras de Málaga” and “Pasas de Málaga,” which currently has 47 registered wineries.
Museo del Vino
The Museo del Vino of Málaga (Wine Museum) was inaugurated on 3rd July 2008, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Regulatory Council of the "Málaga" Designation of Origin.
The former 18th-century Palacio de Biedmas was refurbished to house facilities where art, history, culture and wine education come together to show Málaga residents and visitors everything that Málaga's viticulture has to offer. Thus, they can learn about what wine is and how it is cultivated.
It has an exhibition of more than 400 labels and posters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; specifically, you can also see barrel headers, sketches, profiles, wine and sultana cases, as well as lithographic stones that take the visitor back to the oldest tradition of the people of Málaga in their wineries.
It also has an interpretation centre, a tasting room, a shop and a training room. It is also the headquarters of the Regulatory Council and, therefore, an ideal place to disseminate the culture of wine, a place that is also committed to disseminating the production, conservation, improvement and promotion of all varieties of wine.