DO LA MANCHA: WINES WITH STYLE
Located in the southern Castilian meseta, some 60 km from Madrid, La Mancha is Spain’s largest denomination of origin, occupying 30,700 km, and accounting for half of the land area of the provinces it encompasses. The vineyards fall in 182 municipalities: 12 in the province of Albacete, 58 in Ciudad Real, 66 in Cuenca and 46 in Toledo, although certain modifications are underway to exclude areas that are not up-to-date on their registration. The strength of tradition in the area's viticulture reflects a series of intrinsic and natural conditions that favour grape cultivation and wines with well-defined qualities. La Mancha is ideal vineyard country because, although the yield per hectare is not very high, the quality of fruit, the ripening cycle and the health of the vines are extraordinary.
Long gone is the image of La Mancha as an immense plateau of arid lands that produced great quantities of wine with no thought to its quality. Nowadays, they have undoubtedly won their place among the world's more prestigious wines. La Mancha is also the world's largest wine producing area, with a total of 191,699 hectares of vineyards, a truly remarkable figure that allows the production of a large proportion of all the wine produced in Spain. The name 'Mancha' appears to come from the Arabic ‘manxa’ meaning dry land, although some linguists and historians believe it derives from the contraction of the phrase “la más ancha” (the widest). Whatever the origin, both explanations are well suited to La Mancha's wide dry plains. At the end of the 1970s large companies bought land here and invested heavily in new winemaking technology, which triggered a revolution within the sector. Separately, a large number of small traditional bodegas grouped together to form cooperatives.
More recently, investment in improvements in winery infrastructure over the past ten years has topped 360 million euros, but this process is far from complete. Many of these wineries and cooperatives are still immersed in a continuous process of modernisation. Among other developments, the number of barrels of wine produced in La Mancha DO has grown spectacularly. Investment in human resources has also been a key aspect in the improvement of the wines: the incorporation of oenologists, chemists and other highly qualified professionals has caused an unquestionable leap in quality.
Bienvenido Muñoz, Bodegas Muñoz’s owner and winemaker.