The Málaga DO is situated in the province of the same name and consists of two zones: the western one on the coast near Estepona and a northern one around the town of Málaga as far as the borders with the provinces of Granada en Córdoba. Only this latter area is of any interest. Although Málaga officially makes seco (dry) and abocado (medium sweet) wines, the area is better known for the honey sweet Málaga Dulce. The wine came to fame through British visitors during the Victorian era. The soil constituency of the two areas differs slightly.
There is underlying chalk bedrock virtually throughout the area with chalk-bearing upper layers but on the coast there is rather more ferruginous clay interspersed with mica and quartz. The climate is definitely Mediterranean on the coast but slightly more continental inland. Only two varieties of grape are recognised in Málaga: Moscatel along the coast and Pedro Ximénez, which thrives inland.
California’s climate is quite varied, which is not surprising given the large area of the state. In rough terms the climate on the coast is similar to the Mediterranean with warm summers and mild winters. Summer in the Central Valley is exceptionally hot and dry, while summer in the area immediately behind the coast is much moister and can be misty.
The highest temperatures are in the Central Valley and the mildest are on the coast. The North Coast vineyards get the most rainfall. The soil is also varied as a result of the many earthquakes that hane occured throughout the area. The soil varies from alluvial and sedimentary deposits to strata of volcanic origin.
The notion of terroir that is so strong in Europe is not given much credence in California. The variety of grape is far more likely to be chosen as suitable for the climate than the soil.