2015 La Mancha Tempranillo

La Mancha is the quintessential Spanish wine region. A vast plateau of arid earth, dotted with historic villages, Moorish towns and Roman cities, it encapsulates the variety of culture, the colour and spice, the spirit of old Spain. It happens to be not only the largest wine region in Spain, but also the largest in Europe, covering almost half of the enormous central Spanish community of Castilla La Mancha. Half a million acres of vineyards, spread across four provinces and one hundred and eighty two municipalities - it’s no wonder this is one of the most interesting and varied wine regions there is.

The Romans were the first ones to cultivate vines in this part of Spain, and since their time, wine production has never really stopped. That isn’t to say this is easy wine-growing country - the extreme dryness and intense heat (daytime temperatures regularly top forty degrees in the summer, and drop dramatically at night) present their own challenges, but the result is small yields of highly characterful grapes which range from classic, native varietals such as Tempranillo and Monastrell, to international blending grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The local favorite wine is Airen, a dry, fresh red varietal, which is used in bulk production and for brandies.

While the majority of wine production in the region is for the bold, complex reds the country is famous for, there are also some wonderfully fresh and interesting white wines to come out of La Mancha. These include wines made from local varietals such as Verdejo and Torrontes.

There are plenty of notable native Spanish grapes which have made a big impression on the wine world at large, but none are as renowned or as widely loved as the Tempranillo varietal. This black skinned grape has been used for wine making for centuries, with several ancient civilizations noticing the fact that it is highly versatile and holds some delicious flavors and aromas, perfect for those looking for a powerful yet elegant grape for their wines. Tempranillo often causes winemakers some trouble, however, as it is highly susceptible to many diseases. Despite this, plenty continue to persevere with this varietal, as it is perfect for producing delicious and complex single variety and blended wines, packed full of classic Spanish flavors and plenty of aromatic and intense surprises.