Monday 5 September 2011

The Wine Museum (Museo del Vino), Ojen, Marbella

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You’ll need a car to reach Ojen. It was made famous by a local liqueur and Julio Iglesias has a home here. It’s heaven for nature lovers, set in the mountains just above Marbella and is definitely worth a detour, not just for a taste of some fine Spanish wines, but for a feel for the quieter side of Marbella, where birdsong and the whizz of mopeds are the soundtrack in spring and summer. This is Malaga’s “spiritual” home, but it’s not just wines that are on display or for tasting. Resident guide Antonio will tell you it’s Ojen’s own special Eau-de-Vie (a concoction of aniseed and aromatic herbs that packs quite a punch) that originally put the Ojen on the worldwide map. In 1840 a man called Pedro Morales started distilling the special liqueur but he kept the recipe a secret. Soon, visitors were asking for a “copita de Ojen” in bars around Spain and it was exported all over the world. Picasso probbly enjoyed a swig or two – he immortalised a bottle of the anisette liqueur in his work “Bodegon Espanol”. But after being passed down from father to eldest son over four generations, one father died suddenly before he had the chance to pass the formula on, so the recipe remains a mystery. Also worth visiting: The local 16th-century church with its square minaret-style Mudejar tower; the Caves of Ojen; the Los Chorros fountain; and Juanar Palace, a very old hunting lodge (game is still shot here) that is now a hotel and restaurant, set in the hiker’s and rider’s paradise in the Sierra Blanca mountains.


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