Castilla-La Mancha, located south and east of the national capital Madrid, is the wine region in Spain with the greatest concentration of vineyards. It now produces close to 50% of the nation’s wines and includes 9 separate denominacions de origen (DOs). It is also home to Spain’s first-ever Vino de Pago, Dominio de Valdepusa.
Despite its large size and importance to the overall Spanish wine industry, Castilla-La Mancha is primarily known as a producer of lower-quality bulk wines. It was not until the mid-1980s that the region began to significantly overhaul its wine-production techniques, based largely on expertise from California and Bordeaux.
From a historical perspective, Castilla-La Mancha is world-famous for being the home of Don Quixote. In addition, it is the home to several World Heritage sites, many medieval castles, and historical cities such as Toledo. Food enthusiasts will probably also recognize Castilla-La Mancha as the home of Manchego cheese.
The hot, dry climate of Castilla-La Mancha, which is primarily due to its location on the Meseta Central of Spain, significantly limits the types of grapes that can be grown. This wine-making region has a continental climate, characterized by extreme temperature variations between day and night, as well as between seasons.
The most common grape varietals in Castilla-La Mancha are local ones: Airen and Macabeo. Within the past 30 years, other varieties have also gained in popularity, including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha, Garnacha Tintorera, Monastrell, Syrah, and Bobal. Many of the red blends from Castilla-La Mancha will include a combination of these grape varietals.
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