Malaga, located on the Mediterranean coast of Spain, was in mid 19th century one of the largest wine producing regions of the country.
The vineyards around Malaga measured almost 101 000 hectares, twice the surface covered with vines in Rioja today.
At the time, sweet Malaga wines were exported to Russia, Argentina, China and many other countries to the tune of 10 million litres.
As is well known Russians love sweet wines, and have been enjoying Sauternes from France, Tokaji from Hungary for centuries.
Moscatel de Alejandria (aka Muscat d’Alexandrie) originally from Alexanria in Egypt and Pedro Ximenez were the most sought after grapes, and yielded very sweet wines, one of which was Lagrima (Tears of Christ). Lagrima wine grapes are dried for one or two days after picking and the juice used for this type of wine is only free run.
Now many vineyards are also planted to cabernet sauvignon, syrah, petit verdot, rome, merlot, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, anc colombard.
By 1878 phylloxera had arrived in Malaga, and in short order decimated the vineyards. Half of the population had to emigrate to find sustenance in other regions.
For a long time Malaga’s wine industry remained crippled, except for a few very small and old wineries producing sacramental and dessert wines. By luck and persistence of a few local visionaries and capital from Malagenos living in the USA, the wine industry is now making a slow come back.
Late Alois Kracher, the famous Austrian winemaker from Burgenland tasted some Malagan wines and was instantly hooked. He established a good rapport with the Ordonez family, and promised to help produce world-class sweet wines.
After his untimely death, his son George continued, and still continues to help the Ordonez family successfully.
Other wineries of Malaga are: Hijos de Antonio Barcelo, Jose Naredo, Bodegas Malaga Virgen, Cesar Vinedos and Bodega, E Jimenez and Telmo Rodriguez.
The `new vineyards are planted on high altitude (760 metres above sea level). The mountains are steep (up 40 to 60 per cent inclines) with poor, well-drained soils. Rain is sparse.
The harvest occurs late. In fact for sweet wines, some winemakers dry the bunches on the vine so much so that the wine contains 544 grams of residual sugar and four per cent ABV per litre rivalling Tokaji Essencia in Hungary. 49 – 59 kilograms of grapes yield one litre of juice.
The Ordonez-Kracher collaboration started yielding world-class dessert wines, but so far, has yielded no profit. The family is hoping to break-even soon, and eventually eke out a little profit.
So far, the project has been a labour of love.
2001, 2003, 2004 vintages are considered to be good, 2002, 2006, and 2007 very good, and 2005 excellent.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.