The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2011

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SPAIN Naturally Organic I t's harvest time in Spain's La Mancha D.O. Bucket after wheelbarrow after trailer are filled with juicy Airén, bountiful Tempranillo and Verdejo grapes, mile after mile, village after village, prov- ince after province. Men, women, even children are cutting grape bunches with hand shears in vineyards that have grown grapes for hundreds of years. They are doing as their fathers did and their fathers before them. The narrow village roads often look like a tractor jam with landowners carting their harvest to contracted wineries. Diego Fernández Pons, winemaker at the Parra Family Organic Wines. Fred's La Mancha Organic Picks Parra Jiménez 2010 Verdejo Nice straw color with a bouquet of pear and green apple. On the palate, it's crisp and fresh with hints of cinnamon and allspice. ROMERO & MILLER Parra Jiménez 2004 Reserva Brilliant dark purple color with a nose of plum, chocolate and black fruits. Its soft, well-rounded tannins are complemented by a palate of vanilla, chocolate and black currant with slightly spicy finish. ROMERO & MILLER Bodegas Volver 2009 Tempranillo Strong nose of black fruits and earth with a palate of dark cherries, black fruits and a hint of raspberry jam and a dry finish. JORGE ORDOÑEZ SELECTIONS Campos de Dulcinea 2009 Tempranillo/Graciano Lovely dark cherry nose. Well-balanced fruits and rounded tannins with a perfectly structured finish. PALETTE OF WINES 54 / the tasting panel / november 201 1 Spanning the undulating plains of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Toledo provinces, La Mancha's loose, rocky soil has provided nutrients for wine grapes since the Roman times. Today, the area is putting its focus on organic wines. Because of its high-heat summers, frigid winters that kill bugs, low humidity and soil that is not weed-friendly, almost all of the La Mancha vineyards are organic, says Diego Fernández Pons, winemaker at the Parra Family Organic Wines in Las Mesas, Cuenca. Not all are certified organic, but for most in La Mancha that's just a formality. "There is little need for any vineyard here to use pesticides," Fernández says. "We have perfect organic conditions seven out of ten years." The Parra Family manages 430 hectares of organic and biodynamic vines. The family-owned winery was the first within the D.O. to become certified organic, in 1993, and has since helped other winemakers convert their operations into organic wineries. Other significant wineries pursuing organic certi- fication include Vinícola de Tomelloso, whose Torre de Gazatte Tempranillo earned Best of Country, Spain at the 2011 San Francisco International Wine Competition, Bodegas Entremontes, Bodegas López Mercier and Bodegas Lozano. And it all started with Parra Family. "Being organic is not just about marketing for us," Fernández says. "Consumers are putting our products in their bodies and we feel socially respon- sible to make organic products." Note: Fred Minnick also blogs about La Mancha wines. Visit SPAIN'S HISTORIC LA MANCHA D.O. GETS DOWN TO EARTH story and photos by Fred Minnick C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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