Málaga was formerly best known for its altar wines until winemaker Telmo Rodriguez produced ‘Molino Real’ (Royal Mill), considered one of the greatest sweet wines in Spain and highly rated by the world’s wine critics.
Winemaking history in Málaga and the nearby mountains is one of the oldest in Europe but, like many of the world’s great dessert wines, demand fell dramatically in the 20th century.
There has been a recent upsurge in interest in these sweet wines, and Málaga wines are now making their mark on the world stage, quite an achievement for a small region with only 16 wineries.
The main wine producing villages are Frigiliana, Competa and Vélez-Málaga. There are many red and white grape varieties grown, but the only ones used for dessert wines are the Pedro Ximenez and Moscatel.
Many shops keep a barrel of Frigiliana wine and you can take along your own container and have it filled.
Competa celebrates the Noche del Vino (Night of the Wine) on the 15th August with flamenco and sevillana music and dance plus mucho free-flowing vino.
The Museo del Vino is located on Calle Constitución 6 and wine is served from the barrel. There is also a restaurant right next door, Restaurante Asador Museo.
Some of the best Malaga dessert wines include:
Molino Real: 100% Moscatel. This is one of Spain’s most famous sweet wines made by winemaker Telmo Rodriguez, It has a golden colour and a fruity taste.
Don Salvador Trasañejo Moscatel: 100% Moscatel de Alejandria made by the Lopez Hermanos winery.
Calle Carreras 39, Ojén
Tel: 95 288 14 53
Open daily: 11:00 to 15:00 and 16:00 to 20:00
Entrance is free.
Not far from Marbella is the small, whitewashed hillside village of Ojen, birthplace of one of Spain’s most famous drinks and home to the Museo Vino de Malaga (The Wine Museum of Malaga). In 1997, this forgotten distillery was refurbished and opened to the public having been, in the meantime, a cinema, theatre and coffee shop to name but three.
The distillery was founded by Pedro Morales in 1830 and was Andalucia’s first distillery. Morales wanted to create a distinctive brand of alcohol with a unique flavour and he achieved just that when he unveiled his Pedro Morales Aguardiente de Ojen.
Aguardiente was a type of potent schnapps, over 40 percent proof and flavoured with anis. It was distilled from Malaga’s moscatel grape to create either dry or sweet schnapps. It became world famous, as did its distinctive, coffin-shaped bottle.
Many tried to copy the popular potion, but none succeeded. By 1920, with no male male heir to carry on the family tradition, the distillery and the infamous drink all disappeared. The exact recipe for the drink was never discovered.
The Museo Vino de Malaga display more than 200 bottled wine varieties from fourteen of Malaga’s wineries plus sherry, whiskey and brandy.
There is also an afternoon of wine tasting for a very modest fee and you can savour many of Andalucia’s finest wines, from Malaga, Jerez, Vuelva and Cadiz. Dry wines includes trajinero, fino and verdiales, the sweet offers lagrima, natural and cream while the moscatels are sublime, dorado and plata.
There are guided tours in English, Spanish and French.