La Mancha Local – Wine with Project Envínate (#WorldWineTravel)

Our #WorldWineTravel writers continue in Spain this month, investigating a region almost smack in the middle of the country. The land is dry, in fact often parched, with summer temperatures frequently exceeding 40 °C (104 °F). Yet they drop just as dramatically at night- sub-zero and frequent frost. This is Castilla La Mancha, the heart of the Spanish peninsula and location of one of producer Envinate’s projects.

In a nutshell…

Castilla La Mancha (La Mancha) is Europe’s largest single defined ‘quality’ region, encompassing 160,000 hectares / 469,500 acres. In addition to wine, the industry revolves around olive oil, fruit and vegetables, fresh and processed meat, cheese and dairy products.

And impressive is the area’s commitment to organics, renewable energy and the environment; solar photovoltaic and wind energy are huge, as is extensive research related to use of biomass, of which La Mancha is a large producer.

Toledo aqueduct Spain

Toledo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its historical coexistence of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim cultures. The Romans entered Toledo in 193 B.C and built two aqueducts dating to the 1st or 2nd centuries A.D. Today, one of the bases above the Tagus gorge survives.

Toledo, Spain aqueduct

A most amazing historical site to visit!

Wine Grapes

Several grapes are allowed for use including:

  • RED: Tempranilla (Cencibel), Graciano, Bobal, Monastrell, Grenache, Syrah, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
  • WHITE: Airen, Chardonnay, Viognier, Macabeo, Torrontes, Verdejo

La Mancha is almost in the middle of Spain bordered by Valencia, Murcia, Extremadura, Andalusia and Madrid.

Enter Envínate

It is no surprise to see a project by this creative producer in La Mancha, given two of the four are from the area.

Alfonso Torrente, José Ángel Martínez, Laura Ramos and Roberto Santana met at the University of Miguel Hernandez in Alicante while studying Oenology. Their shared ‘same vision about wine’ resulted in Envínate, a wine consultancy with wine production on the side. They mostly make wine in regions they consult (and they are from), allowing easy rental of space at client bodegas.

This vision includes advocating fresh wines reflecting the soils and grape varieties of the areas sustainably. They have projects in the Canary Islands, Galicia’s Ribeira Sacra and of course La Mancha, the home of Ramos and Martinez.

You might consider them part of the next generation of winemakers. They were never in a classical box instead preferring to showcase grapes from the regions they operate with minimal intervention- no chemicals in the vineyards, wild yeast fermentation sometimes with whole clusters, and minimal sulphites added only at bottling, to name a few. Aging is in old oak barrels or casks and concrete.

Meet Albahra

Recently in San Sebastien, we dined at Gerald’s Bar specifically recommended by the restaurant Arzak sommelier. She shared they have a super wine list of small and sustainable producers. It was there we discovered the Envínate wine Albahra.

San Sebastien Gerald's Bar

We recommend Gerald’s Bar if visiting San Sebastien. An easy 10-minute walk from the old town area, make sure to secure a reservation as it is small.

Albahra (“small sea” in Castilian) is light, fresh, and a rather sassy blend of Garnacha Tintorera and the indigenous obscure Moravia Agria, both red grapes. There is only around 50 hectares of Moravia Agria left in Spain. A higher acid grape, it adds acidity to blends. About 13,000 bottles of this wine are produced annually.

The first smell sent me to cranberry, raspberry, graphite and smoke. And the first taste to juicy red and black berries, and pepper and wet forest floor. It’s sassy because it bursts with flavors, freshness and an arc of acid that is balanced by crushed velvety tannins. We found this a high-toned (pretentiously elegant!), delicious, ‘drink now’ wine that works with many foods- wild mushrooms, seafood, and pork were on our plates that evening. I note it took several swirls to open up as it was slightly reductive. Price: €12 in Spain / about $25 in the States.

Envínate Albahra 2020 Vinos Mediterranean

Albahra | 70% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet) and 30% Moravia Agria

Made in Castilla La Mancha, the Almansa and Manchuela sub-regions.

Aged eight months in concrete tanks on lees. Neither fined nor filtered and minimal sulfites added.

Are You Drinking ‘La Mancha’ Wine?

According to the Wine Scholar Guild, there are eight DOs (Designations of Origin) in Castilla La Mancha. If you see one of these DO on the label, La Mancha is in your glass!

  • La Mancha DO
  • Manchuela DO
  • Méntrida DO
  • Mondéjar DO
  • Ribera del Guadiana DO
  • Uclés DO
  • Valdepeñas DO
  • Vinos de Madrid DO
  • Jumilla DO is not counted as one yet is in both Murcia and Castile-La Mancha, because the area the vineyards cover crosses the border between the two regions.

And there is also the Castilla VdT or Vino de la Tierra. Sometimes producers will use this when the wine they want to make does not fit into appellation rules.

Check out what the World Wine Travel group found in Castilla La Mancha. We’ll be chatting on Twitter at 17:00 CET, 8 am Pacific November 27th. Follow #WorldWineTravel.

Sources: WineSearcher, ICEX, Spanish Wine Lover

 

15 thoughts on “La Mancha Local – Wine with Project Envínate (#WorldWineTravel)

  1. robincgc

    What an amazing region that I know so little about! A friend visited earlier this year and sent me photos of the windmills and a winery she visited! I look forward to exploring more of the wines of this region!

    I love your description “Pretentiously elegant”. It really gives me a sense of the wine!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      One day we’ll get there to explore I hope, meander around the Meseta. Having fun with descriptions, glad it hits a cord with you Robin!

      Reply
  2. Allison Wallace

    We’re looking forward to doing more research on Envínate, love their vision and they cover a couple of regions we need to learn more about…and you can bet we’ll return to San Sebastian and hopefully we’ll be able to meet up for a glass or 3 at Gerald’s (sounds like our kind of place)!

    Reply
  3. Deanna

    This is soooooo good! The history is fascinating, the story of the company and its commitment to minimal intervention wine, and the tasting notes. My eyes loved reading this post, Thanks for participating in this month’s exploration!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      And thanks for choosing La Mancha Deanna, a region I didn’t know much about. So much more to learn too!

      Reply
    2. Lynn Post author

      What this group of four is doing, not only in La Mancha but the other regions in which they work, is fantastic. Thanks for picking Castilla La Mancha Deanna!

      Reply
  4. Jeff Burrows

    We get some of the Envinate wines here in Minnesota, but I haven’t tried them yet. I guess it’s time I get busy! We had a fabulous time in San Sebastian and the Arzak Sommelier gave us a tour of the cellar, so cool!

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      You’ll have to share your experience once you taste some of them. I’ll bet that Arzak cellar was amazing!

      Reply
  5. MARTIN D REDMOND

    Your wine sounds like a great find, and like it’s right up my alley. When we visited Spain in 2013, we went to see Toledo, and well as visiting San Sebastien. If we ever get back to San Sebastien will have to check out Gerald’s Bar. In terms of the D.O. thing. I found another source for the sub-appellations (The world of wine is dynamic, if nothing else!) https://www.winesfromspain.org.cn/en/meseta

    Reply
    1. Lynn Post author

      You’ve had some great travels in Spain! If you get back to SS we’ll meet you. Thanks for the link for D.O.!

      Reply

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