5 Keys to the World of the Traditional Wines of Andalusia
The first International Conference on Traditional Wines from Andalusia was held in Madrid at the beginning of April. Foods & Wines from Spain was there to get an in-depth look at the current and future state of these singular wines. Would you like to learn more about the conclusions from this event?
This occasion marked the first time that four regulatory boards representing four denominations of origins for Andalusian wines (DO Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, DO Málaga y Sierras de Málaga, DO Montilla-Moriles and DO Condado de Huelva) had come together to organize an international conference focusing on their excellent products. More than 1,500 professionals from the wine world and forty-two expert speakers were in attendance at Madrid’s Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, for activities that included twelve round-table discussions debating the most relevant issues concerning the history, present and future of the traditional wines of this southern Spanish region. The following is a summary of this three-day, reflection-heavy conference, distilled into five key points:
1) A splendid inauguration with Sarah Jane Evans MW
British journalist and wine critic Sarah Jane Evans MW opened the conference with a well-prepared talk that centered on one, very concrete aspect: the importance of this type of debate forums as a confirmation of the great interest in these wines, whose ageing techniques make them unique to this sector. They cannot be reproduced anywhere outside of Andalusia, not only for their ageing processes, but also for their history, orography, soils and grape varieties.
2) New consumers and international markets
The production industry for traditional Andalusian wines expressed the need in various talks to continue working both in the national and international markets, while emphasizing the importance of attracting new audiences. Here, the objective is to rejuvenate the target audience, and not only with regard to the product itself, but also through wine tourism, gastronomy, innovation, and research at universities and specialized training programs. In terms of the international market, efforts should center on traditional consumers like the United Kingdom and Holland, as well as in creating new opportunities in Asia and the USA.
3) Climate change and innovation
These were both major topics at the conference, where speakers like wine expert Pancho Campos underlined the need for Andalusian wineries to make changes to their viticulture practices in the face of foreseeable average temperature increases due to climate change (studies on advancing harvest dates, making better use of water resources, etc.). This conference also served as a forum for the presentation of certain recent innovation projects having to do with making traditional Andalusian wines. Some examples included the innovation work on wine clarification carried out by researcher Lourdes Moyano at the Universidad de Córdoba, or a project on circular economy in wine making processes presented by Carmelo García Barroso of the Centro Andaluz de Investigaciones Vitivinícolas (Andalusian Center for Wine Research). A representative from the Universidad de Cádiz, Antonio Amores, detailed a project about the use of bee pollen to activate fermentation.
4) Soils and estates
Until relatively recently, all of the focus, especially in areas like Jerez and Montilla-Moriles, was on the work that goes on in the wineries, and the ageing of the wines. This has changed. Andalusian wine makers are making a stand for their terroir, the work that goes on in the vineyard, the particular characteristics of the soils, of the estates located at high altitudes (like in the Sierra de Málaga mountains), and those that form part of the prestigious area known as the Marco de Jerez (Marcharnudo, Carrascal, Balbaina...)
The wines of Andalusia are perfect companions for the finest gastronomy — referring to both still and fortified wines. At the first International Conference on Traditional Wines from Andalusia, there was space for the great Michelin-starred chefs of the region to demonstrate the versatility of these wines alongside their culinary creations. Kisko García, of Choco restaurant in Córdoba, made the point that, “eating Andalusian (style) also means drinking Andalusian (style),” and that these wines are “just one more ingredient, like olive oil,” in this region’s recipe archive.
For Juanlu Fernández (Lu Cocina y Alma restaurant, Jerez), the wines from this area are the basis for 60% of his French sauces “with an Andalusian twist,” because he uses them in place of the traditional French wines. Chef José Carlos García, of the restaurant that bears his name in Málaga, agrees. “Our wines are present from the appetizers to the pastries, they’re just another ingredient we use because that’s how it is in our culinary (tradition).” Huelva-native Xanty Elías of Ácanthum restaurant has a very definitive stance on this topic. “Wine is an obligatory aspect of gastronomy, and in Andalusian (cuisine) I think that an Ibérico ham from Jabugo tastes better with a glass of palo cortado than with a white wine from northern Spain.”
Text: Rodrigo García Fernández /@ICEX
Transl: Adrienne Smith /@ICEX
Photos: International Conference on Traditional Wines from Andalusia