trusted, at a reasonable price. In the latter 1990s the sales of these Spanish wines increased significantly. Spanish wine from La Mancha in bottles is being sold in greater volume both within Spain and abroad while the bulk sale of wine is drastically reduced. The growing demand in the home market for La Mancha has exceeded the volume of exports.

La Mancha’s vineyards are situated at heights varying between 1,607 and 2,116 feet (490 and 645 metres). Generally the soil is clay topped with brown sand. The better vineyards have underlying clay and chalk with a top layer of loam and calciferous red or brown sand. The ruling climate is continental with very cold winters and very hot summers. The mountains surrounding the area shelter the vineyards from moist maritime winds. White, rosé, and red Spanish wines are made here. The whites can be seco (dry) semi-seco (medium dry), abocado (slightly sweet) or dulce (sweet). The grapes used for white Spanish wine are Airén, Macabeo, and Pardilla, while Cencibel (related to Tempranillo), Garnacha, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot are used for red wines. Because La Mancha is the biggest wine producer of Spain and one of the world’s largest, its most widely planted variety of grape, the Airén is the most planted variety of grape in the world. The government is advising the growers however to replant this variety with Cencibel (Tempranillo).

La Mancha red Spanish wineThanks to modern wine-making technology, including chilled vinification, the white Spanish wine made from the Airén grapes is very fresh and fruity with surprising aromas of celery, and newly mown grass. Because there is a surfeit of these grapes the price of this wine is extremely low. In addition to drinking it as an aperitif it goes well with both freshwater and sea fish. Drinking temperature for this Spanish wine is 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C). The rosados are made wholly with Moravia grapes or with a blend of various blue grapes almost always including Garnacha and sometimes also white grapes. Drink this fresh, young Spanish rosé with salads for instance at 50-53.6°F (10-12°C).

La Mancha’s red vinos jovenes are light and fruity and can be drunk on many occasions. Drink temperature for this Spanish wine 53.6-57.2°F (12-14°C).

The better La Mancha reds are aged in oak casks (usually American oak). Those of 100% Cencibel (Tempranillo) are surprisingly good for their relatively low price. Those blended from Cencibel, Cabernet Sauvignon, and sometimes Merlot are also excellent. Some bodegas also make very fine Crianza wines that are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon but these lack any Spanish character. You can drink this Cabernet Spanish wine at 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).