La Mancha Wines
La Mancha is Spain’s largest DO region and home to almost 500 wineries. It is a vast, hot, dry, quite arid area, which produces over half of Spain’s total grape production. It’s the land of Don Quixote and windmills, lying south of Madrid and west of Valencia, and is home to over 500,000 acres of vines. It’s also the largest single wine region in the whole of Europe.
About La Mancha Wines
Historically it has produced huge quantities of low quality wine, but the last 20 years have seen massive investments and development in the area, with swathes of stainless steel tanks populating the area. The harsh, unforgiving weather pattern, with hot, arid summers and very cold winters mean that grape selection has to be carefully made, as many will not survive.
The tough-skinned, white Airen grape accounts for almost 90% of the grapes grown in La Mancha. The wines used to be heavy, alcoholic and very old fashioned; however the recent developments and the opportunity to produce high quantities of fresh, yet affordable white wine to the export market have dictated a radical change in vinification styles. Early picking, cool fermentation and improved techniques have resulted in white wines that are fresh, aromatic and fruity, yet offer great value for money.
There is an increasing amount of red wine produced, again, juicy and fruity in style, from the Cencibel grape (the local name for Tempranillo); Garnacha, Bobal, some Cabernet Sauvignon is also grown. The reds are increasingly good quality, and offer great value – oak treatment has been reduced, the grapes are picked early, before the baking sun concentrates them too much, and there are now some delicious, berry –packed, rich, yet soft reds from this region.