Our journey through Spain ends in the extreme south of the Iberian Peninsula and on the Canary Islands which lie off the Atlantic coast of Morocco. As wine territories Andalucía and the Canary Islands have two entirely different stories to tell. While the Canary Islands are mainly known for their white, rosé, and red dessert wines, Andalucía almost exclusively produces fortified wines (Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlcecar de Barrameda, Huelva, Montilla-Moriles, and en Málaga).
The Greeks called the town Zera (the dry land), the Romans, Ceritium, the Western Goths, Ceret, the Arabs Sheriz or Sherish, the French Xérès, the British and the Dutch call it Sherry, and the Spanish call it Jerez, pronounced ‘Heref’.
Like Jerez, this is one of the oldest wine-growing areas of Spain. The history of Montilla-Moriles is similar to that of Jerez. The Montilla wines were adored by both the Greeks and Romans but what has become known as the characteristic Montilla style was only developed in Medieval times. Despite its reputation, Montilla has always remained in the shadow of sherry. In an ironic situation, the growers of Jerez have named one of their best sherries after the old-style Montilla wine: Amontillado.
The Spanish wine-growing area of Montilla-Moriles is situated around the towns from which the name is derived in the province of Cordoba.
The best soil is located in the centre of the area and is known as the Superior wine territory. The soil here is also albariza in common with Jerez (which the locals here sometimes call alberos); soil that is high in chalk that stores water so that the vineyards do not dry out in the hot summers. In the rest of Montilla-Moriles the soil is sandy, which is termed arenas in Jerez but ruedos in these parts. The vineyards are sited at an elevation of between 984 and 2,296 feet (300 and 700 metres).