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Spanish wine of Castilla La Mancha

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When most of us think about the exploits of Don Quixote, wine certainly is not one of the first things the pops up. But the wine producers in Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha region would like the see that situation changed. Surely, Don liked his wine, right?

Oh yes, he did, and didn’t really care if it was held in wine skins or bottles. But that was the way it was then.

Now, as Spanish wines move toward higher levels of quality, even Don’s old “stomping grounds” (top producing region in Spain by volume) are leaving their mark.

This year, Castilla-La Mancha’s organization “Tierra de Vinedos” toured the U.S. (more touring next year too) as an introduction to Castilla-La Mancha’s quality and to get working on potential exports to selected distributors. Or course, you have start with tasting the wine, and that was where the focus has been.

Take Castilla-LaMancha’s Bodega Zagarron, they are celebrating “tilting at windmills” in a big way, with big wines. And their Tempranillo renditions are sure to give those from Rioja a good run. If not this year, then they will in a few. That’s because of a recent focus on extracting higher quality wines from this region’s winemakers.

Two of the wines Zagarron was sampling, Tapeo & Velada, represent what can be considered casual verses formal in a Tempranillo-based wine. While both certainly contain wonderfully deep complex fruit character that Spain is famous for, the Velada really does represent a complex, not so everyday wine.

Valada’s deep bouquet is laced with floral, garden greens, and cherries (noted this in others too). As it gradually opens up it greets the nose with a little leather and earthy tones. The body is fully supple and with tannins that will support aging for many more years. When paired with thinly sliced sautéed sirloin, it’s perfect.

Next year, we’re looking for a lot more from the 46 grape varieties that Casilla-La Mancha boasts, plus more tasting opportunities from the 12 (or more) wineries that will be touring. And here’s to getting more distribution here in the U.S.

Right now, if you do a search for “La Mancha” at Total Wine, a few Tempranillo’s come up. These will probably be of the “informal” variation, certainly worth a try.

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