La Mancha is the biggest D.O. in the world, a huge plain with more than 200,000 hectares of vines. It is so-named because of the soil composition, which is fairly homogenous throughout the zone. It is very red clay on the surface (and extends for 40 cm) with pure chalk underneath. It is very dry. The region only differs in terms of the surface composition of the clay and in height over sea level.
Known for its bold, heady, rustic and age-worthy red wines, Spain is truly a one-of-a-kind wine-producing nation. A great majority of the country is hot, arid and drought-ridden, and since irrigation has only been recently introduced and (controversially) accepted, viticulture has sustained—and flourished—only through a great understanding of Spain’s particular conditions. Large spacing between vines allows each enough resources to survive and as a result, the country has the most acreage under vine compared to any other country, but is usually third in production.
Most planted and respected is Tempranillo, the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions. Priorat specializes in bold red blends, Jumilla has gained global recognition for its single varietal Monastrell and Utiel-Requena has garnered recent attention for its reds made of Bobal.