In the heart of Andalusia, at the south of the province of Cordoba, “Montilla-Moriles” vineyards stand out as one of the most important in Spain.
The prestige of their wines is the result of an extensive winegrowing tradition, with a variety of juices like “Fino” (very dry Sherry white wine), “Amontillados” (a type of dry Sherry but darker in colour), fragrant wines, sweet wines, etc. Their best juices come from the vineyards planted on the wavy and limy fields of the “Montilla” and “Moriles Alto” Mountains.
The grape-gathering period, at the “Montilla” and “Moriles Alto” Mountains, is between August and September, since the high temperatures registered in summer accelerate the ripening of the grapes. Towards the end of August, the “Pedro Ximénez” grapes are already like pearls, with a golden and translucid skin.
Apart from the “Pedro Ximénez” type of grapes, there are also other varieties, such as “Airen”, “Montepila”, “Baladí” and “Moscatel”. Lately, they have been experimenting with dark red varieties.
Once the grapes are ripened, they are taken from the vineyards to the wine press center, then they are grinded achieving the “Mosto” (Must or grape juice) and, finally, from that Mosto the purest wines will be obtained.
With the traditional method for fermenting the grapes in concrete cones, the “Mosto” (must or grape juice) is transformed into wine, through a chemical-biological process (and other chemical reactions) due to the activity of the yeast, and also the sugar contained in the “Mosto” transforms itself into alcohol.
Nowadays the fermentation is made and controlled in stainless steel vessels. For the correct growth of the “Montilla-Moriles” grapes, several factors have to take place, like for instance the “Casta”, that is an adequate origin, a house, a wine cellar, a good room and the “Bota” or barrel.
The “Pedro Ximénez” variety takes its name from the type of grape is produced from. The biggest characteristic of this type of grape is its delicate skin and the high sugar content, making them have 14º-15º during the ripening process. Once these grapes are ripened and taken from the vines, they are left outside exposed to the Sun until they become raisins. After the grapes-raisins have been processed during several days, the end result is a 22º “beaumé” wine with 9º of alcohol. This wine, with its fruity and nice taste, can also be taken as a dessert.
Cordoba is land for big and small game. The big game is abundant in Cordoba although it is not very used at restaurants; it is normally exported to other regions and nations. Nevertheless, it is regularly used as a "Tapa" at the different bars and taverns. The variety you can have consists of: deer, wild boar or roe deer.
Sword fish is the favourite of the people of Cordoba, which is cooked in several ways, the Dogfish (a small shark) is stewed as in the lower regions and parts of Andalusia. Fried fish is an excellent dish since it is made with the best olive oil. The most characteristic fish dish, is by mixing it with a sauce and then frying it. An example of this kind of food is "La Japuta Palometa" which is an already dried fish meat softened by the "Adobo" sauce (sauce called "Adobo" made mainly with vinegar, salt, wild marjoram, garlic and red pepper).
In Andalusia there is not only one "Gazpacho" but several ones. The most recent one is based on tomatoes, which was not known until the 19th century, and has become practically the unique and only "Gazpacho". Cordoba also offers other types of Gazpacho, like the almond one, served with apple and raisins. A typical Cordoba dish is the "Salmorejo", similar to the Gazpacho but with no water added. It is served with ham and a hard boiled egg.
Arab influences are mostly perceived in desserts. The "Alfajores" taste of clove, the "Pestiños" are filled with cinnamon, but above them all is the "Pastel Cordobés" (Cordovan Cake) which is pastry filled with "cabello de ángel" ("angels hair": sweetmeat made from a squash). Some people also fill it in with ham, making a good sweet-salty combination. Another dessert is the "Membrillo de Puente Genil" (quince paste from "Puente Genil").
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