Thursday, October 27, 2011


La Mancha Wine Tasting

The wines of La Mancha, Spain came to Los Angeles on October 18, 2011, for a tasting event at The Mark For Events, a hall-for-hire on Pico Boulevard.  One thing I liked right away about the Spanish reps who were pouring their wares: they pour like they want to get rid of the stuff.  No skimpy one-ounce pours were to be found in the hall; they splashed it into the glass as if they wanted me to stay a while.

I did want to stay, but the organizers said when it was over, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."  Well, it was a nice little afternoon vacation from the work day in L.A.

La Mancha is the largest wine region in Spain - in fact, it's the largest wine region in Europe.  Their calling card is crafted from the two main indigenous grapes of La Mancha, Airen and Tempranillo.  Growing conditions have proven favorable, too, for such varieties as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

La Mancha's weather is described as "nine months of winter and three months of hell."  Frosty cold winters turn into triple-digit summers and there's not a lot of rain anytime.  In order to allow all the grapes to share the meager amount of water that there is, vines are separated by about eight feet in all directions.

I was surprised by some of the wines at this event, namely the whites.  I'm a big fan of Spanish white wines, so it was a letdown to taste so many at this event which were decidedly lacking in acidity.  The reds were the big winners here, full of the dark and earthy fruit flavors I expected to find.  There were some nice whites, they just weren't an across-the-board sensation.

Relatively few of the wines I tasted were aged in oak barrels, and those that were often spent their time in American oak.  It's always a treat to taste, for instance, a Cabernet Sauvignon which has a minimal mark of oak upon it.  The fruit is really given a chance to shine on its own.

What follows is a brief list of the highlights from each table I visited.

bottles of La Mancha wineBodegas La Remediadora
The La Villa Real 2010 Tempranillo/Syrah blend has a nose as bright as sunshine and great cherry flavor in a really light and easy-drinking framework.  The La Villa Real Roble 2010 is the same blend with three months of oak added.  It's a little darker and more complex.

Bodegas Casa Antonete
Their Negora Verdejo 2010 is one of the whites I really enjoyed, with a tart grapefruit palate and good acidity.  The Casa Antonete Rosado 2010 boasts a funky nose, ripe strawberry flavors and great acidity.  The Casa Antonete Reserva 2004 - aged 13 months in American oak and 24 months in the bottle - is loaded with coffee notes and is silky smooth.  The Casa Antonete Tinto Tempranillo 2010 is a young wine with no oak, showing an earthy nose and a vibrant acidity.

Bodeagas López Mercier
The Abadia Mercier Tempranillo has cherries in abundance with a note of black tea.  There's a great streak of minerality and wonderful acidity.

Allozo Centro Españolas
The Allozo Tempranillo 2010 has a funky cherry nose and vibrant red fruit carried along by great acidity.

Virgen de las Viñas

Their Tomillar Sauvignon Blanc 2010 is old-world, not at all grassy.  It does have a great lemon-lime palate and very nice acidity.  Even better is the Tomillar Chardonnay, unoaked and showing a great citrus angle.  It's one of the more refreshing Chardonnays I've had.

Santa Catalina
This winery produces the Los Galanes Verdejo 2010, with a nutty nose, lemon and grapefruit on the palate and very nice acidity.  The Los Galanes Tempranillo Joven 2010 is dark and earthy.  There's a brilliant level of acid in this young wine.

Casa Gualda
Their 2010 Tempranillo shows black cherry, great minerals and a healthy streak of acidity.

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