The D.O. La Mancha Wine Event opportunity came to me just after reading an article in Food and Wine about, “How to be a Wine Super-Sleuth,” so I was excited to put my new sleuthing skills to the test.
Truth be told, there is never a shortage of wine in my home and every time I take bottles to the recycling center, the workers there ask me if I recently had a party. “Ummm…no…that was just this week.” Given that the event invite said that I’d be meeting “17 of the top D.O. La Mancha bodegas”, I was the right gal for this event.
Now to clarify, D.O. is a simple acronym for Designation of Origin and as I learned, La Mancha is one of the largest wine regions in the world. Couple that with abundant sunshine and an optimal soil type, the La Mancha region has the perfect foundation for enabling a constant supply of wines throughout the year. With only 10% of the wine grown in the La Mancha region able to claim the D.O. distinction (specified by quality, source, and origin standards), I knew I was in for a special treat.
The event was held at The Herringbone Restaurant within the swanky Mondrian Hotel in L.A., and my eager wine tasting self was one of the first arrivals, which was great as it gave me the opportunity to speak with the folks representing the wines. Here are some of the highlights:
Miguel, the winery’s GM, Biologist & Enologist, did my first pouring of the day. He highlighted that the winery was one of the first Chateau-style wineries in the region. Their production includes ~4000 oak barrels, focusing primarily on red wines. Miguel also mentioned that they distill brandy and have been at it longer than anyone else in the region, since 1818. Miguel poured me a taste of his favorite wine and kicked off my day sampling the Flor de Allozo Tempranillo/Granacha. It is a full bodied, 89 Point wine, with a hint of berry and was definitely a great way to start!
Casa Antonete has vast acreage and therefore, produces a lot of grapes – to the tune of 25 million kg of grapes a year. I went with the Casa Antonete Tinto Tempranillo for my tasting and was utterly delighted. It was one of my favorite reds of the day – it was very light, soft, and easy to drink. You could taste the sweet fruit notes throughout which seemed to represent the bright red color of the wine perfectly. This is a great wine to drink right away vs. allowing aging to maintain its youthful taste.
It was at this point, I decided I should probably eat something or I wouldn’t be standing for much longer. Catered by the Herringbone, they had a selection of meats and cheeses to snack on and some delicious lunch options, including: a Kale Salad, Beef Tenderloin, Monkfish, Brussel Sprouts, Fingerling Potatoes, and Roasted Veggies. Let’s just say, I went back for seconds and that I’ll probably be dreaming about the Monkfish cooked with sweet cherries tonight. Mmmmmm…. Once I had my fill, I went back to the wines…
This is another huge winery, producing upwards of 70 million kg of grapes annually! The land is irrigated by the nearby Guadiana River and many of the wines carry the name. I tasted the Ojos Del Guadiana Seleccion – a combination of Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon crafted by blending the new varieties of grapes in the region with the strong traditions of wine making locally. This wine meant business – it was deep in color, powerful in taste, and had a bit of a sharp edge. It was a heavier wine than I’d typically choose, but was a stunning choice.
What caught my eye initially was the labels – they are beautiful, but what made me linger, was the wine. I selected their most popular wine, the Nebbia Tempranillo. This is a perfect wine to own if you’d like to have one on hand for a rainy day, allowing it to age in your wine collection for a couple of years. The 89 point wine comes from an older vineyard, according to the lovely gal pouring the wine for me, and it was a very full bodied choice with a smooth finish.
Dominio de Punctum Organic and Biodynamic Wines
I was really excited to try this wine because of the organic and biodynamic practices by the winery. It was also one of the few white wines I selected – the Viento Aliseo Viognier. It had a beautiful floral scent and a light, fresh finish. It’s a perfect choice to inspire summer in your mind all year around.
I selected the wineries namesake, ¡Ea!, to try during this tasting – a 100% Tempranillo wine. They explained to me that they use 40-70 year old vines to create this wine, which is ideal as the plants have deep roots, therefore, they can easily find water, which in turn, helps them resist hot temperatures. The wine is aged for 6 months in French and American oak barrels to produce this light and fresh wine, with notes of sweet fruits and a hint of spiciness.
The Sill Rose was one of the lighter and more interesting wines of the day. This 100% Syrah wine was sweetly aromatic and was defined by its beautiful pink hue. They explained to me that they achieve this through a process of allowing the grapes to be crushed under their own weight and then limiting the time they juice is in contact with the skins – too long, and you get a red – too short and you lose the vibrancy. The wine itself was surprisingly dry, but with a fruity finish.
In the heat of the afternoon, I decided to say on the lighter side and at the Santa Catalina table I selected the Campechano Vino Blanco Joven, made with 100% Airen grapes. This was my favorite white wine of the day – the second I raised the glass to my nose, the heavenly scent of peaches and citrus was abundant. It was light and fresh, and I could easily see this served at any causal get together.
Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon of delightful D.O. La Mancha wines and I think I’m at least one step closer to becoming a wine super-sleuth!