Muscatel wine in Malaga Province
The Muscat of Alexandria
The muscatel wine in Malaga is one of the wonders of Axarquía : the muscat of Alexandria (genuine name). The history of Muscatel as its culture are from different points of view quite unique.
It seems that it was the Phoenicians who brought it back from Egypt, when they settled on the Costa del Sol (around 1000 BC). Then the Greeks of Phocea, 700 BC, improved its culture, then the Romans improved it further, and the moors kept this culture.
The cultivation of this grape has been the same for 3 centuries. The harvest is done by hand, then the grapes are loaded on the back of a mule to the drying point, the paseros . At nightfall, it is covered with a canvas to avoid any risk of dew on the grapes. Part of the grapes will be used to produce DO Malaga and DO Sierras de Malaga wines .
The other part of the grapes will be dried for 4 weeks. Once dry, each grape is cut one by one! The raisin is ready to be eaten, it is called here, the Pasa.
It is the most artisanal harvesting grapes system in Europe.
This culture and its type of harvest have remained intact, and absent from any mechanization. the main reason is the orography of places of culture. Indeed, some vines are cultivated on slopes inclined up to 60%. To give an idea, on mountain roads, by car, the roads have a maximum of 33%.
This crop is one of only 50 sites in the world registered by the UN, via the FAO, as GIAHS (Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems) . This distinction is the recognition of a unique, ancestral culture with a strong social, cultural, traditional and environmental impact. Respect for the environment in a sustainable manner is a key element.
The harvest of muscatel in Malaga province, and Spanish traditions, are the occasion for many ferias and fiestas in Axarquia Costa del Sol:
The historical elaboration of muscatel wine in Malaga (the same with Pedro Ximenez)
It was carried out in 2 stages (see pics below):
First, there was the pisa, which consists of treading the grapes with the feet.
The juice obtained by this method was considered the best and was used to make the best bottles. The grape juice extracted from this method was called “ la lagrima”, the tear. (see the pics below with the demonstration of the pisa ).
Then after crushing the grapes were put in a press to extract the maximum of juice.
Both the pisa and the pressing were carried out in lagares. You can still see in the villages some lagareto. they were used to practice pisa for individual wine productions.
Finally, the wine was kept in large jars (tinajas) in the place of production, in the lagares .
One more interesting thing to know: the jars (tinajas) were buried almost entirely in the ground and only then was the building constructed. The size of the tinajas preventing you from being able to put them in the building afterwards.
A guide offers 3 Tours to discover the history, the culture, wines, tasting and meeting with the winegrowers of Axarquia. A great experience. All details are in the following links:
Details and booking : Muscatel Wine Tour in La Axarquía
Details and booking: Sun and Wine Tour
Discover and booking (only August to October) : The Raisin Route (unique)
I take this opportunity to thank my friends Carlos Karlitros and José Antonio Pretel for some pics.
About wine, I invite you to read the post on Romé , an endemic grape that you absolutely must discover!
Want to continue the trip to Andalucia?
Each month, ideas for visits and discoveries
Here are some ideas for wine-related activities during your stay in Malaga and its surroundings: