Alvear is not technically a Sherry producer as their wines are from Montilla-Moriles in the Andalusian province of Cordoba. The main difference between the fortified wine of Montilla and Sherry (by definition from Jerez) is the use of the Pedro Ximenez (PX) grape rather than the Palomino grape used in Jerez. Montilla also goes through an initial fermentation in clay jars. For wine lovers this should be incidental, as these wines are impressively deep and concentrated, and like all Montilla, great bargains in comparison to Sherry. Don Diego de Alvear y Escalera began producing wine in Montilla in 1729. Eight generations later, the Alvear family are still stewards of the Pedro Ximenez grape at the now modernized facility. Alvear both sources grapes from their 307 acres of vineyards and contracts with local growers. The main grapes grown in this warm region (soils here are mainly chalk, limestone, and sand) are Pedro Ximenez (far and away the bulk of the crop), Moscatel, Airen, Baladi,Verdejo and Torrontes. The incredibly sweet Amontillado style, meaning in the style of Montilla, refers to wine made from grapes raisinized in the sun. Alvear is known for its nutty Amontillado Carlos VII, made from sun dried PX grapes aged in a solera for at least five years, is a notable example.
Spain has more acres under vine than any other country and ranks third in production behind Italy and France. Much of this output continues to be hot-country jug wine made to satisfy the everyday thirsts of the domestic and greater European markets. But many inexpensive Spanish wines that once were rustic, tired, or dried out have been replaced by bottlings that are lush, round, ripe, and cleanly made. Regions that previously made blended Spanish wines that were virtually too strong to be bottled on their own, such as Tarragona, Valencia, Yecla, Jumilla, and Toro are now firmly in the table wine business, even if these wines of Spain can be alarmingly high in alcohol.
At the high end are exciting new bottlings from the historically important Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions in north-central Spain and from the wild, hilly Priorat in Cataluña, in the northeast corner of the country. A new generation of Spanish wine makers has begun crafting wines in a distinctly modern international style: deeply colored, very ripe, and high in alcohol, generally aged in a high percentage of new French oak, and often quite pricey. The majority of these wines are based on Tempranillo, Spain's most distinguished red variety. While the ultimate quality and longevity of these Spanish wines are yet to be proven, these new bottlings have unquestionably captured the attention of wine drinkers both inside and outside Spain.
Although much of Spain bakes in the sun for at least half the year, the country actually covers a vast range of climates-from the cooler and much wetter Atlantic-influenced northwest, to the arid, blazing Mediterranean south and southeast-so vintage generalizations are tricky with Spanish wines. Moreover, the majority of Spain's better vineyards lie at relatively high altitude, where summer nights are cool even when afternoons are stifling. " e wines and is perfect with any chocolate dessert.