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Malaga a Wine with History
Apparently, winemaking first began in Armenia (Europe) and spread to the Mediterranean coastline countries, where the vineyards found the ideal climate and terrain for the rapid expansion and growth of this industry.
Guillén Robles in his work "Historia de Málaga y su provincia" (The History of Malaga and the Province) says that ”the Greeks settled in Malaga and taught the local people how to prune the vines” which would have been around 600 B.C., when Mainake (Malaga) was founded.
The first historical testimony found on winemaking in Malaga dates back to the Early Roman Empire, and consists in a fermentation tank discovered in Cartama,(municipality of Malaga) around 30 kilometers north of the capital.
During the Moorish conquest the rigid laws of the Koran, which prohibited the consumption of wine, came into conflict with the long-standing local wine-drinking tradition. However, little by little, the harsh penalties, which included the death penalty for being drunk, were substituted by fines (garima) and these, in turn, were progressively replaced by taxes (qabäla), which were payable by the wine merchants and became one of the most important public resources.
When the Catholic Monarchs re-conquered Malaga in 1487, the situation was that which Cecilio García de la Leña describes in "Conversaciones históricas malagueñas" (Historical Conversations on Malaga): “To ensure a happy, wealthy and powerful city, the first thing our conquering Catholic Princes did was to establish the "Hermandad de Viñeros" (Winemakers Guild), to ensure the continuance of the winemaking that, even under the domination of the Moors, had formed an important part of the trade and wealth of their subjects. They recognized that the vines would provide, apart from happiness and wealth for their much-loved people, an important asset to the Royal Treasury, due to the many profits it would provide when transferred to other realms.”
Years later, on 12th January 1502, the Catholic Monarchs confirmed, by Royal Order in Seville, the creation of the Winemakers Guild with privileges that were re-confirmed by Juana of Castile in 1513.
In 1791, Spain’s Ambassador in Moscow, Mr. Gálvez, gave the Tsarina and Empress of Russia, Catherine II, some crates of Malaga wine and so great was her pleasure that she declared exempt from taxes all Malaga wines imported to the Empire from the Winemakers Guild.
The Winemakers Guild continues to exist today in its guild sense in the Regulating Board and in its religious brotherhood sense, in the VERY ILLUSTRIOUS AND VENERABLE Brotherhood dedicated to the images of Our Father Ntro. Padre Jesús Nazareno a Viñeros and Our Lady Ntra Señora del Traspaso y Soledad de Viñeros of San Lorenzo Mártin.
In 1806, by Royal Order, the Casa y Compañía de Comercio de Viñeros de Málaga (Malaga Wine House and Trading Company) was created and stipulated that “to prevent any possible adulteration of the Company’s produce, all containers, boxes and sacks that contain such produce will bear complex marks, difficult to falsify" . Furthermore it was stipulated that "Two intelligent persons shall be chosen to ensure that the wines attain the maximum level of perfection possible.”
On 1st July 1900 the Regulations of Malaga Wine Exporting Producers’ Guild Association appeared with the object of protecting the general interests of the wine trade, issuing certificates, appointing referees and appraisers and, particularly, guaranteeing by way of a seal of origin, the authenticity of the wines exported.
At the request of the Winemaker and Wine-producers’ guilds, the right to a Regulating Board was granted on 8th September and its Regulations approved on 20th October 1937, which remained in effect until 21st December. All wine produced under the Malaga Denomination of Origin must undergo the corresponding analysis, with a report from the Grading Committee, based on which the certificate and numbered guarantee seals are (in such case) granted or refused.
In 1999 the third “Malaga” Denomination of Origin Regulation was published, by order of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing of 24th June.
On 9th January 2001 the fourth Regulation was published in the Official Andalusian Gazette, in which the “Sierras de Malaga” Denomination of Origin was also recognized, the name of the board becoming The Regulating Board for the “Malaga” and “Sierras de Malaga” Denomination of Origin. This last set of regulations was ratified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fishing and Foodstuffs on 22nd November 2001, and published in the Official State Gazette on 10th December of the same year.
WINE MADE ART
Literature, music, painting, labels.; Malaga wines are linked historically to the arts. Due to its uniqueness and its noble ancestry it has been cited in many literary works.
Written mentions of the wines produced in the benign climate of Malaga have been found dating back to Roman times, although it was with the Muslim presence in Malaga, the paradise land or as the Moorish poets called the city, “the moon’s crown”, “hidden treasure” or “city of health”, when these wines became the most abundant literary inspiration for the authors of the times.
However, the wines of Malaga are not only referred to in literature; music and art also dignified them as artistic elements.
For example, in scene 10 of the opera "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella) (1817), by Gioacchino Rossini:
Premio bellísimo di piastre sedici
A chi più malaga
The label constitutes another wine-related artistic expression and the Malaga wine labels have always been of extreme beauty. The great quality of the printing together with their artistic excellence, in which publicity merges with the art of painting make them a true work of art, particularly the older ones.
MALAGA, THE CARDINAL OF WINES
In 1224, the King of France, Philip Auguste organized the “Battle of the Wines”, in which the most prestigious wines of the times took part in what was possible the first wine-tasting contest in history.
Malaga participated in this contest obtaining an important classification, as Malaga wine was designated the CARDINAL OF WINES.
MALAGA WINES IN RUSSIA
Russia had always been a large consumer of Malaga wines, particularly amongst the aristocracy, including the Imperial family, where it obtained great fame.
According to a document owned by the Regulating Board, “in 1791, Spain's Ambassador in Russia, Mr Gálvez, gave the Czarina and Empress of Russia, Catherine II, some crates of Malaga wine and so great was her pleasure that she declared exempt from taxes all Malaga wines imported to the Empire from the Winemakers Guild."
FIRST REGULATING BOARD.
On 8th July 1933 the Malaga Winemaker and Wine-producers Guilds were granted the right to set up a Regulating Board for the Malaga Designation of Origin, the first Regulations of which were approved on 20th October 1937. These Regulations remained in effect until 21st December 1976.
ONE, TWO, THREE...
One of the questions asked on this renowned Spanish Television programme was: “What wines were served at the wedding of King Alphonse XIII?” None of the contestants were able to give an answer, which was supplied by the presenter who indicated that the wines served were Malaga and Jerez wines.
According to legend, Peter, son of Simens, brought with him from his native Germany a wine shoot that had been growing on the banks of the Rhin and planted it in Malaga. This was the origin of the variety known as Pero Ximén. All of this is set out in Merula's Cosmography, published in 1636, with which German (Berkenmeyer) and Spanish (Masdeu) geographers coincide.
Nevertheless, José Garijo affirms that it is more likely that variety took its name from a Pero Ximén who was probably a Christian farmer at the end of the 15th century, beginning of the 16th. The same author considers that “what we can be sure of is that the Pedro Ximén vines that exist outside of Malaga, have originated from Malaga vines”, taking into account the mentions made by Cecilio García de la Leña in 1792.