The climate is Mediterranean verging on sub-tropical in the south around Moriles, with some continental influences on the high inland country around Montilla. The Pedro Ximénez grape accounts for 75% of all the vines here followed by Moscatel and some Airén (known here as Layrén or Lairén), Torrontés and Baladi in some of the newer vineyards for modem Spanish wines still under development. These newly developed wines, vinos jovenes afrutados, are at their best light fruity and fresh wines - which is quite an achievement in such a hot climate where normally only heavy sweet wines are made - and make a fine aperitif. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine is 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C).
The Vinos de Crianza are not fortified, must contain at least 13% alcohol naturally, and have been cask aged or at least one year. These Spanish wines are available as seco/dry, semi-seco/medium dry, and dulce/cream. To create the sweeter versions of these naturally dry wines sweet syrup (dulces) or vinos de licor is added.
Vinos generosos naturally have alcoholic strength above 15%. These Spanish wines pass through a solera system (see Solera and Sherry) to arrive at a homogeneous quality. This wine is available as Fino seco: dry, pale wine with fine but full-bodied bouquet and taste. It is reminiscent of Provençal herbs. Alcohol: 14-17.5%.
Amontillado: dry, golden or amber-coloured, strong nose and taste of hazelnut, smooth and full-bodied. Alcohol: 16-18%.
Oloroso: oxidised (no flor), mahogany coloured, very aromatic, velvet smooth, dry or slightly sweet. Alcohol: 16-18% for young wine and up to 22% for mature wine.
Palo cortado: oxidised, mahogany coloured, very aromatic, half-way between Oloroso and an Amontillado. Alcohol: 16-18%.
Pedro Ximenez: probably the best Montilla-Moriles wine. Made wholly from overripe grapes which are then sun dried. This Spanish wine cannot fully ferment naturally because of the high concentration of sugar. Hence distillate of wine aguardiente is added to the honey sweet Spanish wine. This results in a very dark wine with sugar content in excess of 272 grams per litre. The serving temperatures are similar to the sherries of Jerez