Castilla-La Mancha, from the land of Don Quixote, is a large region in Spain, producing great value wines. Self-proclaimed "great vineyard of the world", this wine region is comprised of 430,000 hectares of vines with 400+ wineries and 118,000 acres of certified organic grapes.
45.5% of the wines produced in CLM are exported all over the world and according to the wine producers this is their main goal. In the past year, exports have risen by 15%.
The region is 36 miles south of Madrid and grape growing dates back to the Romans. Another cool fact: Castilla-La Mancha is the largest, contiguous expanse of vineyards in the world! It is a plateau at 2,000 ft above sea level.
They use dry farming practices in growing the grapes, on short, very old vines. Dry farming makes sure the juice is very concentrated. With minimal rain (12"/year), the climate is Mediterranean, right off of the Sea.
There are 23 red and 23 white grapes grown in this region. They use the standard Spanish labeling regarding the oak aging. Joven, Crianza, Reserva & Gran Reserva. However, the trend coming out of Castilla-La Mancha is producing wines that are ready to drink now, getting those wines in the market asap.
After tasting wines from Castilla-La Mancha, it's definitely a region that I will keep an eye out for. These wines retail under $10, mostly and are great value wines. Most popular varieties include Tempranillo, Monastrell, Cabernet Sauvignon, Airén (similiar to Pinot Grigio), Macabeo, Chardonnay. However, there are some great lesser known varieties such as:
The list goes on. What an amazing region for the price. Keep an eye out for the ready-to-drink wines from Castilla-La Mancha!