The autonomous province of Castile-La Mancha lies in central Spain is
bordered by Castile
and León, Madrid, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and Extremadura. It is
known as the setting for Don Quixote's Spanish novel.
Castilla La Mancha is the powerhouse of Spanish wine industry,
producing almost half of Spain's vinuous output from a range of grape
varieties: Albillo, Parellada, Torrontes, Moscatel, Merseguera, Pardilla, Macabeo (Viura), the local Malvar
and the prolific Airen for easy-drinking, crisp, squeaky-clean whites. Tempranillo (locally
known as Cencibel) Garnacha Tinta, the local
Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Monastrell are used for -mainly-
reds and rosado (rose) wines.
Castilla La Mancha incorporates the following DO appellations with varied
winemaking tradiotns and degree of success: the heavy-weights of La
Mancha and Valdapenas, and the
lesser-known Almansa, Ribera del Jucar, Mentrida and
Mancuela. Since the late 1990's, the local wine industry has progressed
in leap and bounds to became source of modern styled, easy-drinking, excellent
La Mancha is the biggest wine region in Spain, producing over
700,000hl of wine annually. It occupies the southern portion of the
Castilla-La Mancha region just south of Madrid, stretching between the
Montes de Toledo and the western spurs of the Cerros de Cuenca.
Since the early 1990s, wines from this arid, windswept, 600m high plateau
have left behind their (often literally) murky, bland and poor quality past and
been reinvented as progressive, modern and good value. A driving force in La
Mancha's remarkable transformation has been the involvement of wineries
from Spain's finest wine regions who have injected considerable amounts of
money into the region. These pioneers include Ribera del Duero's Alejandro
Fernández (El Vinculo), Martinez Bujanda (Finca Antigua) and the
maverick owner of Marqués de Griñon, Carlos Falco, from Rioja, and the
Jerez/Sherry behemoths Osborne and González Byass.
Wines range from fruity, approachable, value-for-money examples (often made
in high volumes to individual specifications from supermarkets and large
retailers) to top quality, expressive, serious wines made in small quantities,
often using experimental techniques and bespoke varietal clones.
The reds are typically firm, ripe and fruity with a nice balance of toasty
oak. They are made principally from Tempranillo
(aka Cencibel), followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and
most common white varieties are Airén, Albillo, Macabeo,
Merseguera and a little Sauvignon Blanc and
Chardonnay. The whites
show a wonderfully clean, modern character with subtle flavours and frequently
offer excellent value.
Castilla-La Mancha is also home to Dominio de Valdepusa and Finca
Elez, two of Spain's "private wine regions", called Vinos de Pago
D.O (Denominación de Pago) that refer to single-estate wineries, each with
their own rules and regulations. The classification of Pago was created in 2003
and it bestows DO status on outstanding single estates even if they are located
outside an existing DO area.
El Vinculo (Alejandro