D.O. Málaga-Sierras de Málaga

There was a time where Málaga was a region of real prestige, with their wines consumed in European Courts, enjoyed across the European and American markets, more famous than the wines from Jerez at its peak. Autentic Málaga wines are one of the true treasures of fortified wines, deep, sweet, profound, mysterious in its translucent darkness, which even now are some of the world’s leading wines, from their whites, known for their dryness, up to their Pajarete wines, which easily reach an alcoholic content of around 20%.

The cultivation of vines and the production of wine have been linked to the socioeconomic history of the province of Malaga since the colonization of the coast by the Phoenicians in the ninth century AC. Viticulture and wine have been the cultural and economic backbone for the various people who have settled in the territory of Malaga, whether that be the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Visigoths, Muslims and Christians. There have been numerous historical references that show the importance of viticulture and wine in the province of Malaga, known has ““xarab al malaqui” in the Muslim era, and celebrated by many poets and writers throughout history, where in England the wine was known as "malligo sack" or "mountain" and in France "vins de Málaga".


The importance of wine in Malaga was such that in the late fifteenth century, by the will of the Catholic Monarchs, the first organization of winegrowers in Spain was written: Brotherhood of Vintners (La Hermandad de Viñeros). But in the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the wines of Malaga suffered two major blows. Firstly was the outbreak of phylloxera, which arrived in Malaga in 1874, and the numerous imitations result of the prestige of its wines.


In order to prevent counterfeiting and protect the general interests of the wine trade, in 1806 by royal decree, the ´Casa y Compañía de Comercio de Viñeros de Málaga’ (the House and Trading Company of Málaga vintners) was created, however the arrival of phylloxera in 1874 was a heavy blow, both in the development and trade of wines, and the regions vineyards would never fully recover from the crisis.


The types of wines of Malaga has historically been extensive and complex because of the antiquity of the same and its export tradition, mastery of winegrowers and winemakers, the people that shape, the native varieties, and the nature of the area production, traditionally composed of all the municipalities that now constitute the province of Malaga and some neighboring, traditional suppliers of wine products to the city of Malaga through its port became a strategic center of international trade in wine.


Then wines from Málaga, whose quality had been unquestioned for centuries, again managed to gradually rebuild their image, with the DO Málaga officially established and recognised in 1932. However, the outbreak of phylloxera and uneven recovery in the territory, resulted in the fragmentation of the vineyards across the territory. Today faithfully reflects the historical fact because the vineyard are dispersed in masses more or less extensive length and breadth of the province vines, also affected was the varietal diversity in the vineyards. Today the DO Malaga brings together some 1300 hectares of registered vineyards, about 480 growers and about 45 wineries. 


 


Climate, Soil and Varieties.


The Málaga province consists of several distinct areas. However the whole country is generally characterized as being mountainous and be articulated by numerous mountains that are the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Las parcelas vitícolas están situadas en cotas que van desde el nivel del mar hasta los 1.000 metros, lo que propicia numerosos microclimas.Viticultural plots are located at altitudes ranging from sea level to 1,000 meters, which encourages numerous microclimates.


The region is home to a Mediterranean climate, characterised by mild winters, dry summers, little precipitation and high hours of insolation due to its latitude at the southernmost point on the European Mediterranean coast. This climate helps and encourages the potential for maturation and ripening of the grapes, while the strategic location at the entrance of the Atlantic, mountainous topography and proximity to the sea helps buffer temperatures.


Malaga is divided into five sub-zones – Serrania de Ronda, Manilva, Norte, los Montes de Malaga and Axarquia – each with its own distinctive climate and soils.


Axarquía and los Montes are characterised by their shallow slate soils, abrupt orography, steep slopes and varying orientations. The proximity to the Mediterranean Sea results in mild temperatures, with annual precipitation varying around 300 and 700 mm, which in the driest areas is ideal for the sun drying or pasification of the grapes. Los Montes also experiences extreme variations in temperature between day and night during the maturation period of the grape. The Serranía de Ronda subzone is characterised by its soils with limestone substrates and milder slopes, with high annual rainfall, and hot and dry summers. The subzone is located at altitudes between 600 and 1000 metres and also experiences stark differences in temperature between day and night. In Manilva, the soils are albarizo, with a high limestone content. This subzone lies on gentle slopes, and its proximity to the Atlántic Ocean gives it a humid and fresh microclimate. The Norte zone, situated in the highlands of Antequera, from 400 hectares above sea level. This subzone is home to deep brown limestone soils, with lower slopes. Being an area inside the province the climate is more continental, with extreme temperatures in summer and winter.


The DO Málaga mainly produces their wines with the Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel de Málaga grape varieties, although other varieties are authorised, such as the Muscat of Alexandria, Moscatel Morisco, or other grapes such as Lairén, Doradilla and Rome.


Grape Syrup
Another feature that is present in the classic wines of Málaga is the classic syrup, boiled must that is reduced by 30% of its volume, that is added to the core wine either before or after fermentation. The next step after this syrup is the so called “vino de color”, also known as “pantomime”, for whose production the must undergoes a longer boil, reduce reaching up to 50%.



Types and Varieties of Malagan Wine.


Wines produced in the region are distinguished into two different categories. Fortified wines, with alcohol levels of between 15 and 22%; and unfortified wines, produced using overripe or dried grapes, with no artificial alcohol added, usually at around 13% alcohol.


Wines from Málaga can also be classified under different names depending on how much they were aged: Málaga Pálido, which are not aged; Málaga, aged between 6 and 24 months ; Málaga Noble, 2 to 3 years ; Málaga Añejo, 3 to 5 years; and Málaga Trasañejo, aged over 5 years.


Málaga Blanco Dulce. The production of this wine involves stopping fermentation with grape spirit, known as arrope. This is the base wine for all of the wines from Málaga, except for the fact they’re slightly dry. Usually made with Pedro Ximénez or Moscatel grapes which are left to dry in the sun for a couple of days. Fermentation usually takes place in traditional open oak barrels.


Málaga Seco. Usually this wine has a slightly higher alcohol content and is produced with a grape juice which has undergone fermentation. This is a typical “seco” (dry), they have an alcoholic content of around 17-18.5%, while the alcoholic content of sweet wines is around 15-17%. The best dry Málagas spend a long time in contact with the wood, acquiring a character similar to Olorosos from Jerez or Montilla-Moriles.

Vino tierno. Made with grapes that are layed out in the sun for 7 days, and either trodden or pressed on the eighth. These are served to soften harsh or drier wines. These are very sweet with a low alcohol content.

Pajarete. This is a ´vino de licor´, or a naturally sweet wine with a sugar content of between 45g – 140 g/l, produced without the addition of arrope, which is aged and has an amber or dark amber colour.


Vino maestro. Puede ser una simple mistela. Se obtiene a partir de un mosto encabezado con alcohol hasta 17º, o un vino encabezado a 8º y que fermente lentamente.


Vino de Licor.It is a mixture of syrup, colour and brandy.


Vino de lágrima. Also known as Virgen of “de gota” (drop), these wines are produced using the juice exclusively from the first pressing, and can either be enriched with syrup or other ingredients or not.


Vino borracho. This type of wine is an equal blend of wine and alcohol. Some wineries use the previous variety instead of pure alcohol to fortify the wine, which lesser disturbs the balance of the final product.


There are some wines in Málaga that also exist in international trade under the labels of sweet, cream, brown, golden, whose characteristics match the English definition.


 


DO Sierras de Málaga.


The production area of Sierras de Málaga coincides with the DO Málaga. The DO Sierras de Málaga was officially established many years later, in 2000, and is home to the Serrania de Ronda subzone. To really understand the roots of the Sierras de Malaga, it is important to discuss the role of phylloxera, that led to the reduction of the total are of vineyards, resulting in the creation of small wineries and medium sized vineyards, thus enhancing the expression of the terroir and the beginning of what has evolved to the current styles of production and ageing of red, white and rosé wines, recovering the use of historical red and white grape varieties, including those from experimental fields established by the regional administration in 1995, which is perfectly adapted to the place and that quality wines are obtained in the Sierras de Malaga. 


In fact, the difference between Málaga and DO Sierras de M’alaga is that the latter produces “calmer” wines, with a lower alcohol content between 10 – 15.5% and a sugar content below 12g/l. The wines are classified as red, white or rosé, and by ageing can be qualified as either: Crianza, with a minimum ageing of 2 years, of which at least 6 months must be in oak barrels; Reserva, aged for a minimum of 3 years, 12 months of which in oak barrels; and Gran Reserva, aged for a minimum of 5 years, 24 months of which spend in oak barrels.


The white grape varieties authorised by the DO include Pero Ximen (Pedro Ximénez), Moscatel de Alejandría, Moscatel Morisco (Moscatel de grano menudo), Chardonnay, Macabeo, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, Lairen, Doradilla, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Verdejo and Viognier; as well as the red varieties Romé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Malbec, Monastrell and Tintilla de Rota. 


 


Wines and Wineries.


One of the problems when trying to discover the world of Málagan wine is the sheer variety and complexity of the different styles the region offers. This variety is reflected in the diversity of characteristics, with wines coming in a wide range in colours from yellow to black, with fruity and floral aromas in younger wines, as well as complex aromas in aged wines, as well as tastes ranging from dry to sweet wines.


Producers and winemakers carry out the work of production partially with this sweet white wine and a notable series of ingredients. Some winemakers and wineries use a large quantity of the syrup, arrope, since it has an almost burned caramel palate, which is what many fans expect of Malaga wine. Then there are wineries and winemakers who limit the proportion of syrup used, producing a more elegant wine that is less syrupy. In a classic malagan wine, as well as the classic sweet wine, there can also be arrope, Vino Tierno, Vino Maestro, and Vino borracho. The art of this winemaking is to create an harmonious blend extremely complicated harmonious whole from these elements, task.


A pioneer of this new generation of wines is Jorge Ordóñez, himself from Malaga, with Bodegas y Viñedos Botani, in the region of Axarquía, along with the Kracher family and other partners. Alois Kracher is reputed Austrian winemaker, and was the founder of winery, although his some Gerhard now is in charge of technical direction. The philosophy of the winery is to restore the old glory of Malaga wine and to produce unfortified dessert wine using the latest technology, as well as to pioneer the development of the Muscatel grape variety. The winery produced numerous amounts of wine, both under the Botani brand in DO Sierras de Málaga and the Jorge Ordónez & Co. brand in DO Málaga. Under the Botani label in DO Sierras de Málaga, the winery produces: Blanco Seco, a single variety Moscatel de Alejandría, with fresh aromas, fresh fruit, white flowers, expressive, tasty with a good acidity; their red wine Botani Garnacha, with aromas of red fruit, balsamic, herbs, tasty, ripe fruit and a good acidity; and Botani Espumoso, again 100% Moscatel de Alejandría. Under the DO Málaga, the winery produces wines using only the Moscatel de Alejandría grape. One of their wines that stands out is the naturally sweet Selección Especial Nº1 Blanco, with potent aromas, floral and honeyed notes, candied fruit, tasty, sweet, and fresh, with a good acidity and long finish. Then there is the again naturally sweet Victoria Nº2 Blanc, which is a reflection of a new vision and direction for Malagan wine, with a perfect harmony between concentration and subtlety, it is a true representative of this region of sun and mysteries. This wine has a fresh taste, with a high quality of exotic aromas with touches of minerality and a persistent taste. This is followed by the naturally sweet Viñas Viejas Nº3 Blanco, that is vinified in the barrel, with the highest complexity and intensity of aromas and flavours, among which stoned fruit are prominent. Then finally there is the naturally sweet Esencia Nº4 Blanco, which ferments in French oak barrels for over two years, and is exotically scented with notes of fruit, melon, honey, and flower essences, with an intense palate of sweet peach compote, pear, honeydew melon, as well as a backdrop of racy acidity that gives the wine energy and concentration.


Another relatively unique and recent project is La Melonera, which is located in the Serranía de Ronda and is part of the Perelada group with the help and support of Mas Martinet Assessoraments. The winery has planted various small sized plots at 800 metres above sea level, located between oaks, home to Syrah, Grenache and Monastrell grapes, as well as native varieties such as Romé, Tintilla de Rota and Melonera. Currently the winery produces two reds and one white under the Payoya Negra label (La Encina on the English market), two reds under the Colección MHV (Manking Heritage Vines), as well as the wines Yo Sólo and Embajador Glávez, both of which are produced using native varieties which were nearly completely wiped out after the phylloxera outbreak. All carried out by the oenologist Delfi Sanahuja, founder of the ExEx en Castillo de Perelada collection, and Ana de Castro, a young winemaker of the La Melonera estate, paying homage to this unique varietal heritage.  The wine ‘Yo Sólo’ is a single variety wine made with the Romé grape variety, a variety native to Andalusia, and pays tribute to Malaga Bernando de Galvez, Viceroy of New Spain and a key figure in contributing to the spread of Andalusian grape varieties in the USA, helping lay the foundations for viticulture in California. The wine Embajador Galvés is another red wine, and is a blend of two different grape varieties: Tintilla de Rota (67%), and Rom (33%). This wine honours the history of Ambassador Miguel Galvez, who in 1791 sent Empress Catherine II samples of great Malaga wines, which granted import duties to Russia for Malaga wines.


An example of a traditional winery in the region would be Málaga Viegen. Bodegas Málaga Virgen, founded in 1885 by the López brothers, is still in the hands of the same family today and continues to produce vintages wines in a landscape of silence that does not bow to the turmoil of the city. The winery is home to 500 hectares of vineyards, half of which are registered under the the Regulatory Council, and are divided between the north and south slopes of the Axarquía, where a large part of the vineyards belong to the Vistahermosa estate. The different generations that have led the winery have adapted their wines to the tastes of each era. Thus, during the fifties, the Quina San Clemente gave the Lopez Hermanos winery great popularity in the domestic market. Later Quina would give was to Málaga Virgen, which achieved a very high level of popularity, thanks to a successful advertising campaign and superb quality that have helped launched it as a leader in the world of sweet wines. Currently, the winery produces two star products, Cartojal and Tres Leones, that have helped revolutionise mustcatel wines. The winery also produces wines that have been aged for over five years, with PX Don Juan, el Moscatel Don Salvador (named after the grandparents of the current owners, and Seco Trasañejo. These are wines that are aged in boots almost from the foundation and are produced in strictly limited quantities. These wines boast exceptional organoleptic characteristics, and are the pride of the family winery, which itself has become the flagship in recovering the glorious past of Malagan wine. The winery also produces wines under the DO Sierras de Málaga classification, under the labels Barón de Rivero Blanco Chardonnay and Verdejo, the rosé wine 1005 produced with Syrah grapes, as well as their red wine Pernales, another single variety Syrah wine, aged for 18 months in new French (80%) and American (20%) oak barrels. 

Wineries belonging to the D.O Málaga-Sierras de Málaga:

Outstanding wines from the D.O. Málaga-Sierras de Málaga:

  • Cortijo Pinot Noir 2015

    Red wine Barrel. 8 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Cortijo Los Aguilares. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Pinot Noir.

    • Parker 91
    • Peñin 93
    32,25 VAT incl.
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    Cortijo Pinot Noir 2015

    Red wine Barrel. 8 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Cortijo Los Aguilares. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Pinot Noir.

    • Parker: 91
    • Peñin: 93
    32,25 VAT incl.
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  • Victoria Nº 2 2015

    Sweet wine Young. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    • Peñin 94
    15,25 VAT incl.
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    14,50 €/u
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    Victoria Nº 2 2015

    Sweet wine Young. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    • Peñin: 94
    15,25 VAT incl.
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    14,50 €/u
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  • Encina del Inglés Blanco 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Grano Menudo.

    6,50 VAT incl.
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    6,15 €/u
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    Encina del Inglés Blanco 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Grano Menudo.

    6,50 VAT incl.
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    6,15 €/u
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  • Encina del Inglés 2013

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    10,90 VAT incl.
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    10,35 €/u
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    Encina del Inglés 2013

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    10,90 VAT incl.
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    10,35 €/u
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  • Botani 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    • Parker 91
    • Peñin 93
    12,20 VAT incl.
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    11,60 €/u
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    Botani 2015

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    • Parker: 91
    • Peñin: 93
    12,20 VAT incl.
    6x
    11,60 €/u
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  • Botani Garnacha 2014

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Tinta.

    11,90 VAT incl.
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    11,40 €/u
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    Botani Garnacha 2014

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Garnacha Tinta.

    11,90 VAT incl.
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    11,40 €/u
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  • Manos Negras 2015

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Samsara Wines. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Tempranillo and Merlot.

    • Decántalo 91
    10,35 VAT incl.
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    Manos Negras 2015

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Samsara Wines. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Tempranillo and Merlot.

    • Decántalo: 91
    10,35 VAT incl.
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  • Samsara 2012

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Samsara Wines. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Petit Verdot.

    • Decántalo 93
    29,95 VAT incl.
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    28,40 €/u
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    Samsara 2012

    Red wine Barrel. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Samsara Wines. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Petit Verdot.

    • Decántalo: 93
    29,95 VAT incl.
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    28,40 €/u
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  • Viñas Viejas Nº3 2011

    Sweet wine. 20 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    • Parker 95
    • Peñin 96
    43,90 VAT incl.
    6x
    41,70 €/u
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    Viñas Viejas Nº3 2011

    Sweet wine. 20 months in French oak barrels. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    • Parker: 95
    • Peñin: 96
    43,90 VAT incl.
    6x
    41,70 €/u
    Online only
  • Payoya Negra 2013

    Red wine Crianza. 12 months in French, Allier oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Tintilla de Rota and Syrah.

    • Peñin 92
    14,00 VAT incl.
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    Payoya Negra 2013

    Red wine Crianza. 12 months in French, Allier oak barrels. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Finca La Melonera. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Cabernet Sauvignon and Tintilla de Rota and Syrah.

    • Peñin: 92
    14,00 VAT incl.
    Online only
  • Botani 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    • Parker 90
    • Peñin 92
    12,20 VAT incl.
    6x
    11,60 €/u
    Last 9 available!
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    Botani 2014

    White wine Young. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga.

    • Parker: 90
    • Peñin: 92
    12,20 VAT incl.
    6x
    11,60 €/u
    Last 9 available!
  • Selección Especial Nº1 2014

    Sweet wine Young. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    13,00 VAT incl.
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    12,40 €/u
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    Selección Especial Nº1 2014

    Sweet wine Young. Volume: 3/8 37,5 cl Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    13,00 VAT incl.
    6x
    12,40 €/u
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  • Málaga Virgen

    Sweet wine. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Málaga Virgen. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Pedro Ximénez.

    6,85 VAT incl.
    6x
    6,55 €/u
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    Málaga Virgen

    Sweet wine. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Málaga Virgen. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Pedro Ximénez.

    6,85 VAT incl.
    6x
    6,55 €/u
  • Botani Espumoso

    Other sparkling wines. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    10,25 VAT incl.
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    Botani Espumoso

    Other sparkling wines. Volume: 75 cl. Winery: Jorge Ordoñez. Production area: Málaga-Sierras de Málaga. Grapes used in this wine: Moscatel de Alejandría.

    10,25 VAT incl.
    Out of stock!
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