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Mano a Mano La Mancha 2012
The sandy soils (up to 1 meter in depth) have an underlayment of large river stones, with a lot of iron, clay, and chalk. The vines produce very low yields of 1-2 kgs of grapes per vine. Winters are very cold; summers are hot with cool nights and it is a very arid climate.
The Spanish enologist, Rafael Cañizares seeks to achieve the maximum expression of the Tempranillo grape grown in this environment. After very careful vineyard selections, only the best vines of Tempranillo grapes are hand harvested.
The Moors gave it the name, ‘Manxa,’ which fittingly means ‘parched earth.’ La Mancha, the largest wine producing region in all of Spain, is one of its hottest and driest. Sturdy and drought-resistant white varieietes like Airen, Viura and Verdejo thrive in this environment.
Notoriously food-friendly with soft tannins and a bright acidity, Tempranillo is the star of Spain’s Rioja and Ribera del Duero regions and important throughout most of Spain. Depending on location, it takes on a few synonyms; in Penedès, it is known as Ull de Llebre and in Valdepeñas, goes by Cencibel. Furthermore in Portugal, known as Tinta Roriz, it is a key component both in Port and the dry red wines of the Douro. The New World regions of California, Washington and Oregon have all had success with Tempranillo, producing a ripe, amicable and fruit-dominant style of red.
In the Glass
Tempranillo produces medium-weight reds with strawberry and black fruit characteristics and depending on yield, growing conditions and winemaking, can produce hints of spice, toast, leather, tobacco, herb or vanilla.
Tempranillo’s modest, fine-grained tannins and good acidity make it extremely food friendly. Pair these with a wide variety of Spanish-inspired dishes—especially grilled lamb chops, a rich chorizo and bean stew or paella.
The Spanish take their oak aging requirements very seriously, especially in Rioja. There, a naming system is in place to indicate how much time the wine has spent in both barrel and bottle before release. Rioja labeled Joven (a fresh and fruity style) spends a year or less in oak, whereas Gran Reserva (complex and age-worthy) must be matured for a minimum of two years in oak and three years in bottle before release. Requirements on Crianza and Reserva fall somewhere in between.