La Mancha: the world´s biggest wine region
The autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha is made up of 8 Designation of Origin (D.O) wine regions, ultimately making it the largest vineyard in the world. The 8 D.Os you will find inside are: La Mancha, Valdepeñas, Almansa, Manchuela, Méntrida, Mondéjar, Ribera del Júcar and Uclés. But from all these 8, there is one region which stands out: La-Mancha - located just south of Madrid on a plateau (2000ft above sea level). The D.O. La-Mancha is not only the largest wine region in Spain but in the world with roughly over 400 wineries, producing all kinds of wines including reds, whites and rosé. La Mancha was once recognised mainly for its impressive production capability, however the picture is different today and it is the continuous improvement in quality which leaves the entire world stunned. But is it only the wine that makes this Spanish region so famous? La Mancha is renowned also for its garlics, saffron, Manchego cheese and internationally-known windmills, which is why this wine region is definitely worth a visit.
The famous windmills
Located just 30 minutes south of Toledo are some of the most famous windmills in the world. You might be wondering: aren’t these the windmills featured in Miguel Cervantes novel from 1615, Don Quixote? If so, you are correct. In this novel, the protagonist Don Quixote is delusional and imagines that the tall-standing windmills are giants - consequently making him fight them along with his friend Sancho Panza. These incredible, picturesque windmills still stand strong today in La Mancha and visiting them is truly a once in a life time experience. Standing amidst the plains and beautiful mountain ranges, they offer superb photo opportunities against the blue sky. From the spot of the windmills you get a stunning 360 degree view which only adds to this amazing experience and makes the visit to La Mancha in Spain a memorable one.
If you are interesting in discovering the windmills and wineries in La-Mancha, our Don Quixote route wine excursion will definitely be of interest to you!
What is the gastronomy like in La Mancha?
The food from the wine region of La Mancha has a strong reflection on nature. The gastronomy is not necessarily the fanciest; however there are no words to describe how so tasty the dishes really are! There are a variety of other crops grown in La Mancha which include garlic, eggplants, olives (to also produce olive oil), tomatoes, peppers and most importantly Saffron – a spice that is used in many dishes around Spain. One could probably say that it is Manchego, a cheese made from sheep´s milk, which represents La-Mancha´s (including other regions within Castilla La-Mancha) biggest speciality. Manchego cheese pairs well with other dishes but if you see a Spaniard eating it by itself, don´t be surprised – it´s quite common. You can also find gazpacho manchego which is quite different to the traditional gazpacho that you might have already tried. Why is that so? In addition to the normal ingredients you will find chicken, rabbit and even bread in this type of gazpacho. Another very special type of food from La Mancha is pisto manchego, a ratatouille-like dish consisting of tomatoes, zucchini and peppers.
With our luxury tour to La Mancha you will get to experience the excellent gastronomy, wines and cultural elements of this region.
Which variety of wine grapes is grown in La-Mancha?
You will find all types of wines in La-Mancha. The D.O permits over 20 different grape varieties however the most common type used is Tempranillo (known as Cencibel in this region – a grape which ripens much earlier than other types), just like in Ribera del Duero. Examples of other types of red grapes varieties used in La-Mancha are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Garnacha tinta, Petit Verdot and Merlot. What about the white wines produced in the region? The Airén grape is most commonly used for the region´s white wines, but you can also find Macabeo, Verdejo, Viura, Sauvignon Blanc or even Chardonnay. This makes La-Mancha a fantastic place for not only red but white wine lovers. Wines from this region are exported mainly to Germany, Switzerland, the UK, USA, Holland and Sweden. With approximately 187,000 hectares to grown on, you will find yourself in wine paradise if you visit.
Weather in La-Mancha
The climate of the region is a mixture of Continental and Mediterranean meaning that temperatures can be extreme (cold winters and very hot summers). The annual rainfall is generally quite low (350mm). The hottest months are July-August with average temperatures reaching 35°C. Every now and then during the summer, a thunderstorm occurs, which cools down the temperature temporarily – something which can in fact be quite relieving if you in La Mancha during the hottest months. In contrary, the average temperature is 2°C with December and January being the coldest months. Believe or not, but there can also be good weather during the winter periods in La Mancha with temperatures (highs) even reaching 18°C. The best times to visit are from February until June and September until early November.