Condado de Huelva is the westernmost DO wine region in Andalucia, Spain, close to the city of Huelva. This coastal region is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south and straddles the provinces of Seville and Huelva, in the east and west respectively, and is approximately halfway between Portugal and Jerez.
Wines from the Condado de Huelva area were said to have accompanied Christopher Columbus and his crew on their voyage of discovery to the Americas, and rootstocks from the Huelva area were later transported over to the colonies.
Today, the region is best known for its fortified wines, though its significance has faded with time. The DO was recognized and its Consejo Regulador wine authority established in 1964.
Vineyards in Condado de Huelva sit just 25m above sea level on distinctive reddish-tinged sandy soils. The subsoil consists of alluvial, sand and limestone deposits. The region's proximity to the Mediterranean Sea dictates the climate, and winds from the Atlantic moderate the summer heat. Temperatures range from 90°F to 46°F (32C to 8C), so frosts are certainly not an issue here. Most vineyards are lined with trees to protect them from the strong winds that can blow through.
Until 2009, just three styles of wine were made here, one unfortified, two fortified:
- Condado de Huelva Joven – a young, fresh and dry white wine made from the region's predominant variety, Zalema.
- Vinos Generosos – fortified wines aged for a minimum of three years, of which there are two types, Condado Palido and Condado Viejo. Palido (pale) wines, made from Palomino, Garrido, or Listan de Huelva are dry and, as their name suggests, pale in color. Viejo (old) wines are highly aromatic, similar to a rustic Oloroso.
- Vinos Generosos de Licor – sweet fortified wines with a higher alcohol content.