Moscatel is the grape variety that dominates Málaga´s Axarquía, specifically the Moscatel de Alejandría. This fabulous grape, grown all over the steep hillsides here, is eaten fresh, dried into big, tasty raisins and pressed into wine. In recent years its potential in the highest quality fine wines – both sweet and dry – has been growing rapidly. It was the inspiration for the white wines, sweet and dry, made by Sayalonga winery Bodegas Bentomiz, now served daily in the tasting menus of three star El Celler de Can Roca, rated as the World´s best restaurant.

But, contrary to the myth, it is not the only local grape. The little known varietal Romé is actually an Axarquía original, being indigenous to this very region. It is grown particularly on the higher fincas, on land within or beside the natural park. This wonderful grape has an entry in Wine Grapes, the recent book on different vines by José Vouillamez, Julia Harding and England´s only Master of Wine, Jancis Robinson. 

Bodegas Bentomiz first made use of it in their Ariyanas Tinto de Ensamblaje, in combination with Petit Verdot, Tempranillo and Cabernet Franc. The grapes, in addition to a creamy texture, bring hints of red fruit to the wine, which can be brought out by allowing it to breath before drinking. This red has just been listed as one of the 90 Spanish summer wines recommended by Spanish national newspaper ABC in their ABC del Vino supplement – it is the only wine from the whole of Andalusia to make it into the list! The success of the red encouraged the Bodega to give Romé a chance to take centre-stage. They have just bottled the Bodegas' first Rosé, made from this local grape.

Many wine-lovers think of themselves in terms of colour – white or red – until it becomes a habit rather than a choice. But Rosé cuts across this cliché. This is wine that incorporates some of the colour from the grapes' skins, but not enough to qualify it is as a red. The crushed grapes and grape skins are briefly left in the must: they endow it with that lovely delicate colour.

The reputation of rosés, which had been in the doldrums because of inconsistency and a glut of the cloyingly oversweet, has been transformed. Suzy Atkins, writing in The Telegraph, described them as “rather modish” and put it down to improvements in modern wine-making. She comments:

“To be truly en vogue, then, pick a dry, youthful European pink and chill it hard to emphasise
that fresh shiver of acid.”

That's a close match to your new local wine! Ariyanas Romé Rosado is a beautiful pale pink colour. Its scent is flowery, reminiscent of the rose petals that are shown tumbling down the bottle´s handsome label. It taste hints more to the white than the red, being delicate, light and fresh. It offers a nice mineral tang on the finish. It pairs beautifully with fish or shellfish, and is fabulous on its own. Enjoy it chilled on the terrace – the perfect summer wine. .

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