East of Andalucía’s traditional sherry vineyards around Jerez is Montilla, where the finos and amontillados are possibly better than the better-known cousins, and hardly any tourists visit
The Guardian.com–Stick a pin in the centre of a map of Andalucía and you might well hit Montilla. Geographically this is the heart of Spain’s deep south, with Seville to the west and Granada over the mountains to the east. But as I thunder up the deserted motorway towards Córdoba from Málaga airport, I nearly miss the undulating vineyards that are the source of Montilla-Moriles fortified wines. And as most of the wineries are small affairs in the folds of the sierra, they, too, remain under the radar, as discreet as their brands. Only the determined traveller finds them – but I discover the effort pays off.
Moriles, to the south, is one half of this D.O. (Denominación de Origen) classification but the town of Montilla is the boss, on the edge of a rolling sierra of white limestone, where the pedro-ximénez grape flourishes. A close cousin of sherry in strength and flavour, Montilla-Moriles wines are not easy to track down. You can order a fragrant, dry fino, a nutty amontillado (named after Montilla), a voluptuous palo cortado or a figgy oloroso in Cordoba, but they’re rare further afield. Only 10 of the 170 producers export their nectar.