When talking about Montilla-Moriles wines from the province of Cordoba, people usually compare them with sherry wines, because they have some things in common, but I think it is a mistake. I am not a wine expert or sommelier, I am just talking from the point of view of a simple wine drinker. The Sherry D.O. is more popular than Montilla-Moriles D.O. and much more than Condado de Huelva D.O. and other wine regions in Andalusia, but each one has its own characteristics. What they have in common, for example, are the names given to the different varieties, but a fino from Montilla is very different than a fino from Jerez or Huelva.
You can find a lot of blog posts and articles about Montilla and Moriles wines on internet, like this on Sherry Notes and this one on The Guardian, and you will find much more information about the characteristics of these wines than what I can mention. Just as a very short summary: the grape is Pedro Ximénez grape and it grows up in albero soil under a dry and hot Mediterranean weather in the hills of the south of Cordoba. In the production most of these wines don’t need fortification, as they have enough alcohol by their own. For the aging process it is also used the system of criaderas and soleras, and there are two main process: aerobic and anaerobic.
A step before of the criaderas-soleras system within the elaboration of the wines are the tinajas, which are enormous vessels. The sweet and lighter wine obtained from here, vino de tinaja, is very popular in the region. It is both easy to drink and fresh.
So there are similarities with the sherry wines, but the result in my opinion is very different. In general, it is supposed than Montilla-Moriles are sweeter (the most famous wine from this region is the sweet wine Pedro Ximénez), but when I tried them in Bodegas Lagar Blanco for me they were, in general, drier. And I love very dry wines.
The visit to this lagar or winery was incredible. It was an experience completely off the beaten path. First of all, my husband and I couldn’t find the place with our GPS, so we made a phone call to the number given by email. It was the son of the owner by himself who attended the call, and he decided to drive his own car to where we were in town. He guided us to the lagar, which was in the middle of the countryside. There was no noise but the sound of the birds singing and the breath of the hills.
Lagar Blanco is a very small familiar company, let’s say they are author wines, and they do personalized guided tours. I mean, my husband and I were the only ones visiting them that day and they didn’t charge us any extra. It is an extremely cheap visit! You can even have your lunch there, if you book in advance, and it is the mother of the family who cooks the food. These things are the details that make an experience completely unique and different to the majority of the touristic activities. It is just because they are not a touristic company, they are small wine producers. It was like staying with a friend.
He showed us the vineyards and explained to us the type of grape, soil, weather and the main cares that the plants need. After that we went inside of the lagar to see the vessels and the barrels while he was talking about the making process of his wines. Finally he prepared the wine tasting and we tried all the varieties. Palo Cortado became my favorite so I bought a bottle too. He responded all my questions, all of them, and I was specially curious that day!
The only snag is that Lagar Blanco wines, and Montilla-Moriles wines in general, are mainly locally consumed. Only a few of the wineries export to other regions. Even in Seville it is difficult to find wines from that region, and we are less than 2 hours by car from there. But this is always a good reason to come back. I wish these wines will become more famous and successful because they really deserve it.