The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2011

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Page 81 of 120

SPAIN W ith its towering hills and integrated medieval architec- ture, the Castilla-La Mancha region of Spain is straight out of a storybook. Literally. In Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (the num- ber-two bestselling book of all time after the Bible), La Mancha’s fairytale castles and powerful small windmills become engrained in the minds of everybody who reads the story of the “knight of the sad figure,” who helped put the region’s wine on the world map. But a lot has happened to Quixote’s beloved wine since the first edition in 1605. Today, the Spanish state is known for making bulk wine to sell to France and Italy and for selling white grapes for Spanish brandy produc- ers. That is changing. At the 2011 Fenavin Spanish Wine Fair in Ciudad Real, Spain, it was clear that Castilla-La Mancha winemakers are trying to overcome a negative perception and strongly market their proud winemaking tradi- tion. Wine importers, retailers and sommeliers walked the crowded aisles, trying to get time with winemakers for a tasting. And what they found may very well change their perceptions of the region’s wine. Surprising Discoveries They found consistent quality in established vineyards like Bodegas Fontana, which is growing both indigenous and international grapes on its 500 hectares. They discovered pleasant surprises in Castilla-La Mancha’s lone sparkling wine producer, Gotas de Plata, whose wines, from bottom to top, illustrated fruity, elegant flavors that would likely appeal to U.S. consumers. They probably found a lot of wines they never heard of, such as Maza Cruz, whose 2010 Verdejo might have been the best white wine under 7 euros in the whole show. And, they probably tasted a lot of Tempranillo, one of the world’s hottest grapes, but from relatively unknown vineyards such as Kios from Bodega Tikalo. The 2005 Kios is a lovely Tempranillo so soft and velvety you want to end your tasting right there. But mostly, Fenavin showcased Spain in its growing stages and at its Jesus Maria Espinosa, owner of Encomienda Cervera, shows off the winery’s Maar Cervera Syrah. july 201 1 / the tasting panel / 81

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