The wines of La Mancha, Castilla La Mancha that is !

I like to make my small contribution to the wines of La Mancha, and a bit story on wines of Spain in general.

My first ever taste of wine was by my maternal grandmother at my tender age of 8, and of course , it was Spanish wine from Tenerife. Ever since, my love for the drink has increase exponentially to the point of taken professional courses from the ICEX commercial office of Spain, and SOPEXA Food and Wine from France government entities over the years. I have tried tasted it wines from many countries and even arrive of having my own small cellars averaging 50-100 bottles in the cave or basement cellar of my home as I write.

Wines are part of us, part of our culture ,and accompany with food of any kind they are always sublime, even on a hot day a glass of white or rosé is very good. Studies have repeatedly shown that the anti oxidant in red wines especially is good for your health, of course in moderation.

Spain has a strong old tradition on wines going back especially to the Romans. The wine business developed slowly with small families and the quality shows deficiency. However, as the country move up the ladder and investments came in, and more technically educated families began to get involved the quality has increase exponentially. Now the wines of Spain are all over the world even here in France my wine merchant has Spanish wines! And we buy them too!!!

My recollection of Castilla La Mancha was of very high alcohol content wines, cheaply made and quantity prime. As the years went by ,and my visits to the region increase, my tasting grew to the point that now there are several properties worthy of me buying and can recommend very good to all.

La Mancha is a Denominacion de Origen or DO area , an area designated to be of quality wines and you can see on the bottles the grayish black label on the back.  The areas are Toledo, Albacete, Cuenca, and Ciudad Real.  Going irrigated by the rivers Guadiana, Tajo, and Jucar ,and you have the biggest vineyards in the world with  about 400-600 000 hectares of grapes of which about 170 000 are under the DO La Mancha denomination. This makes it into the biggest vineyard area in Spain ,and it is known as the winery of  Europe or  “La Bodega de Europa”.  There are about 182 towns and more than 250 bodegas in it ,some with huge sizes. It is ,also, the biggest Spanish exporter of wine with 22% of their production exported.

You have them as in Spain in general the reds or Tintos  (we do not say red tinto comes from how we name the grape tinto del pais ! that here it is call tempranillo ::)) . You have them jovenes or youngs, 60 days of ageing minimum, and crianza with 6 months ageing minimum, and reserva with 12 months of ageing minimum and gran reserva with 18 months ageing as minimum.  Of course, also, rosé or rosados, white or blancos, sparkling or espumosos, naturalmente dulces or naturally sweets. The region uses many kinds of grapes such as the whites: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Parellada, Torrontés, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The Reds or tintos such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlo, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The last few years the harvest have been great and very good wines were produced, such as 2010 (Very Good) 2011 (Excellent), 2012 (Excellent); 2013 (Good) 2014 (Excellent) and 2015 (Very Good).

The official wine regulation DO webpage is here in English: http://lamanchawines.com/en/

Some of the pioneers of this region and the most famous is the Marqués de Griñon ,Carlos Falcó. Here is a brief story:  There is about 43 years ago that he planted the first grape in the area; it was a cabernet sauvignon that he hidden in his apples as at the time it was illegal to bring foreign grapes into Spain. Within the olives and flower trees of Toledo he set up the winery in the farm call  Pagos de Familia Marqués de Griñón, an extension of his family since 1292. The denomination of  Valdepusa, as his wines are label for the first simple wines bottled in Spain and today export to the world.  More here in English: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/home.html

There is the cooperative or Cooperativa Virgen de las Viñas, the biggest in Europe and maybe the world, presided by Rafael Torres.  In the bodega of Tomesollo, (Ciudad Real) built in 1961 with 17 farmers and 300K kg of grape, following year 6M kg and now more than 200M kg of grape!  Managing an area with 3000 farmer associates and about 7000 families in  Castilla-La Mancha. More here in Spanish: http://cooperativarua.com/

An anecdote, the wine labels  Oristan Crianza , and  Marqués de Toledo Reserva  from the Bodegas Lozano, were prized with double gold and silver at the  Sakura Wine Awards 2017,the most important wine competition in Japan and Asia with a jury all of women; they tasted almost 5000 wines!! More here: http://bodegas-lozano.com/

However, these are some of the more famous. We drank the local La Mancha wines that were superb! all purchase in Cuenca at the La Licoreria store here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/index.asp

There is a wholesale store just entering Cuenca by the bottle or box, we purchased there, and there is a regular liquor store of them in city center Cuenca.

We tasted/purchased  a bottle of Finca La Estacada, from the Uclés area year 2014 red tempranillo Crianza 5,57€!  this was great yummy full and crafted in an old farm belonging to the descendants of queen Maria Cristina of Spain and widow of king Fernando VII. Acquired by the current owners in the mid 20C the family Cantarero Rodríguez ,winery from 2001. The complex now has bodega, hotel ,and restaurant. The wine like said is heavy powerful red full with raspberries and vanilla, light fruity tannins in mouth full body , great yummy in the end. Excellent price: quality value to grab by the case! The webpage is here in English: http://www.fincalaestacada.com/bodega/13_vinos

The, we attack the Finca Antigua recommended by the rental house owners.  This winery is part of the great Spanish winegrowers Martinez Bujanda, very well known to me. The wines of Finca Antigua were first time tasted and we got several bottles due to the knowledge of the winemaker and the local recommendation. The winery is in the town of Los Hinojosos practically in the border of the provinces of Cuenca and Toledo in Castilla La Mancha of course. We first tried the Finca Antigua Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2014 and it was a bit light for our tastes; mineral hints from the cabernet but with nuances of dairy and undergrowth, indicating the freshness we obtain due to the altitude of the estate; grapes from Las Mejias lot. However, only 5,12€! worth it for the price.

We moved up to the Finca Antigua Unico Crianza 2011, with cabernet sauvignon ,syrah, tempranillo, and merlot grapes.  This one was much better for our tastes. Highly intense dairy hints of yoghurt, toasty character with woodland hints oak spicy nutmeg clove and tobacco and slight toasted sensation. smooth creamy on the mouth, full bodied and rounded, well integrated acidity/alcohol and very balanced, long creamy finish, very fresh . Just fantastic at only 6,38€ to grab by the case!

Finally, we have drank the Finca Antigua Reserva 2010 cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot.  Very intense, delightful sensations of fallen leaves with fresh mint, thyme, eucalyptus to the front. Touches of vanilla and dairy ,oak well integrated with the fruit hints of tobacco, leaf, juniper, aniseed, very elegant complex suggestive. The taste full and powerful great body with backbone very rich and pleasant, great for rich cuisine. We love it, and only 10,24€ to grab by the case!!

More on Finca Antigua direct link in English here: http://www.fincaantigua.com/en/

Then, we drank the unique Alejandro Fernandez  (Grupo Pesquera) a winemaker very well known to me and have met him, this was again a first time drink on the El Vinculo 2011 Tempranillo red. The winery is near the windmills of Campo de Criptana (of Don Quijote fame) that was purchase a manchego typical house that was modernized into the winery or bodega in 1999.  The name of the wine is to make it close to the original bodega of the family in the Duero region ; El Vinculo= the tie end or link.

The wine El Vinculo 2011 red tempranillo was aged for 18 months in American oak barrel and 6 months in the bottle. In the mouth has sweet tannins mark with a mature fruit and an explosion of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Wonderful and price at 10,16€ is a bargain to grab by the case! More on it in Spanish here: http://www.grupopesquera.com/index.php/es/bodegas/el-vinculo/k2-categories

Well as I finish this post, my sneaky sons already had the  Calzadilla Classic 2010 out for drinking and we did!  This is the property we tried to visit twice in last two years and always closed in August even if we did call ahead to see it. Well , we purchase the bottles at La Licoreria and try today the red wine.  Their site tells us in Spanish and I translated, the Bodega under the name of Bodega Familiar Uribes Madero is born in 1980 and the first bottle under Calzadilla does not come than in 1992. Today at  PAGO CALZADILLA  you have 26 hectares of which 20 are dedicated to the vineyard with a production of 100K kg of grape to produce the tintos or reds.   The Calzadilla Classic 2010 is done with Tempranillo 60%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 20%,  Syrah 10%, and Garnacha 10%. Harvest from land parcels name Fogón,   Aldehuela, Bildorado, Chocilla del Vinagre, and Viña Olivos.  The taste is of the lighter variety,not our favorite on this bottle but nice nevertheless.  The color is deep red with aromas of prune, raspberries, and white fruits like pear. You see the eucalyptus and tobacco, vanilla, and glycerine. Fruity sensation by the mouth from beginning to end Round  , balance with good acidity , long and expressive final. I just need to add was light texture with hints of wood, and high tannins still in it. Price at 12,71€ is ok but can do better cheaper.  More on the webpage here in Spanish:http://www.pagocalzadilla.com/web/es/nuestros-vinos/calzadilla-classic.html

Of course, all these wines were purchase and brought home !!! and we are not yet done drinking them all lol!! But we have still in bottle (if you care to stop by hurry up ::)) Wines from Cuenca, La Mancha area Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet (Marqués de Griñon ), Pago Calzadilla Allegro 2007, and from other regions the Viña Real crianza, Ramon Bilbao Edicion etc. We do buy here Jumilla area the Petit Clos Taja that are about 6-7 euros and when they come to our store Nicolas in Vannes we scoop all the bottles!!! own by Frenchmen Mahler Besse of Bordeaux fame ::)

Again, all these wines are great to buy and drink, the price/quality ratio is huge, and bargains of gastronomic proportions; La Mancha is it, and Spain is stepping out. Drink with moderation but drink wines is good for you too. Enjoy your Sunday y’all, Cheers!!!

Cuenca

 Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca  Cuenca

 

2 Comments to “The wines of La Mancha, Castilla La Mancha that is !”

  1. I think next time we are in the Morbihan we’ll invite ourselves round to help you drink all that treasure in your cellar. Cheers! 🍸🍸🍸 😂😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

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