DO LA MANCHA
In an area as vast as DO La Mancha, easily Spain’s largest wine producing area, you’d expect to find wines across the quality spectrum, from entry level to those of fine wine status. You’d also expect to find large and indeed huge wineries producing wines across that spectrum, as well as boutique wineries, perhaps with visionary maverick winemakers keen on experimentation.
Well La Mancha, located south of Madrid and sprawling towards Utiel to the East, Badajoz to the West and Valdepeñas, and beyond to the South, has it all. There are still wineries making bulk wines for sale to those countries not so well blessed with sunshine (I wonder if there is/will be a slight decline in this business as global warming enfranchises more northerly countries in the wine making world?). However the less than complimentary ‘bulk wine’ tag which so often in the past dismissed any fine wine thoughts re La Mancha, is now exactly that, in the past.
I received a raft of wines from Bodegas Lahoz and I’ve been pleasantly sipping my way through them for several weeks now. Their flagship wine, Abad de Soto, is in fact a Vino de la Tierra de Castilla wine, rather than DO La Mancha.
Regular readers will know that the olden days (even as recently as just 10 years ago) where the cream of wines were firmly sealed with a Denominación de Origen label and all others were, by degrees, less fine, are now well and truly buried. VdlT wines are up there with the best – and Abad de Soto is one of them.
Made with Tempranillo, the most planted variety in the area, the wine is made from fruit emanating from the best vineyards, where some altitude gives respite from the furnace-like daytime temperatures and all-day sunshine. There are dark cherries and bramble fruit on the nose, understated cinnamon and smoky notes with a lick of tar on the long finish. Elegant too.
The Recata range is also VdlT. Unfortunately the Sauvignon Blanc Fermented in Barrica was oxidised – which was a shame, though no fault of the winery of course. I like Sauvignon anyway, but when it has had some oak in its nurturing it takes on different aroma and flavour nuances.
The Recata 2007 Tempranillo is alive and well, owing to its quite rich fruit as well as nine months in oak. There are darker fruits as above here but some loganberry lightness too. It’s juicy with a medium finish.
Vegacorcoles Tempranillo Roble is another syle of wine I like. Yes, it’s had time in oak, but less than for a crianza or reserva. Therefore it’s the fruit that is to the fore, and there’s bags of it in this wine. Juicy, tangy with a medium finish it’s a lovely wine to simply enjoy and to have with meat orientated tapas – chorizo sausages for example.
Of course the white wine darling grape variety of DO La Mancha is Airén, she (previously) of too late harvesting, bulk dross etc. Nowadays a very different animal. Picked in August when the sunshine has ripened the grapes but not yet stripped it of its acidity, Airén can offer not just welcome freshness but charming fruit too.
A pleasing citrus acidity was noted when Vegacorcoles Airén 2012 was fist opened. Twenty four hours later there were fresh pear notes and a distant Golden Delicious apple note too! I really enjoyed it.
From the same range their Tempranillo (what else?!) rosado was a lovely soft red fruit mouthful with enough depth to take on some light meats and certainly rice dishes. Paella of course, but also others, for example Arroz A Banda, Arroz Caldoso, Puchero, perhaps less famous though nonetheless fully flavoured. The rosado can take all this, as well as being a super sipping wine too.
Vegacorcoles 2012 Tempranillo Joven has all the fresh ripe strawberry fruit one would expect from a Tempranillo unfettered by oak. A wine to enjoy by the mouthful whilst chatting with friends and while eating grilled meats, as well as the rice dishes above.
PS Two seats left on our wine orientated Short Break to Granada/Jerez/Seville – please call 00 34 629 388 159!