So what wines are the unique products of the cask-making tradition in Montilla?

The region’s grapes and the soleras method infuse specific flavors into every bottle that comes out of the area.

The region is a small municipality with a rich history stretching back to the Roman Empire. They are known for their commitment to the quality of the wines produced despite challenging conditions. There are vast amounts of methods used in wine-making in this region, most prominently the Solera Method. This is an aging system known as fractional blending, in which new wines are infused with older wines to create a blend of freshness and maturity. It is used especially in sherry production and encourages wine to develop unique, sweet tastes. As you can see in the picture, grapes are aged for 2 years and the oldest wine is found at the bottom. As the oldest wine is poured for consumption, it is replenished from above by the top butt filled with new wine. There are advantages and disadvantages to this method. Challenges include being time and resource-intensive, having the risk of contamination, and losing higher yields. The advantages include creating consistency, lessening anomalies year to year, and having an average age of around 8 years.

The grapes harvested in the area also play a big role in the types of wine produced. The Pedro Ximenez is the most common grape in the region which produces sweet wines. Other grapes in the region include Moscatel, Verdejo, Palomino, and Macebo varieties. These have made the region known for their sweet, dessert wines including multiple variations of sherry. The Pedro Ximenez grapes in particular are important to the region as it is one of the few parts of the world where it can thrive. It takes up about 70% of the vineyard space in Montilla. We are going to be lucky enough to visit some of these vineyards that take pride in their grapes and their use of casks to produce incredible wine. 

So what wines combining these unique elements can you expect to try while visiting Spain? There are five main classes of wines in Montilla: Joven, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximénez. All five are dry wines, well-known and loved as aperitifs. A powerful acidity, an ability to refresh, and an excellent complexity make them very versatile wines, ideal to pair with all kinds of food, especially traditional dishes, most notably tapas. Sweet and dessert wines are what the area is most known for and the variety of sherry they can make due to the grapes of the area definitely sets them apart. 

The cask-making process is so important to the infusion of flavor found in the region’s wine as was discussed in last week’s blog, which you can find here. We look forward to talking with winery owners in the area who uphold these traditions to make their wine so distinctive!
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