by Fred Minnick
Jose Castellano is the owner of Palette Of Wines, a Spanish wine importer with three DO La Mancha wines. Castellano carefully selects each wine with his customers in mind and the state of the market. The New York-based importer recently answered a few questions for Quixotewines.com.
What is the typical DO La Mancha wine?
I do not think there is a typical DO La Mancha wine. Instead, I would say that the diversity and high quality are the typical features of DO La Mancha wines—this is a good starting point.
Tell us a little about each of your DO La Mancha wineries.
It is a family winery located in Villarrobledo in Albacete. Bro Valero has a small production (maximum 10.000 bottles) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Macabeo / Cabernet, Syrah and Tempranillo. Its Crianza Tempranillo 2005 is truly extraordinary.
This winery is located in Tomelloso, Ciudad Real. It is a cooperative of 14 wineries founded in 1991 and directed by Miguel
Angel Valentin, a biologist and oenologist. The goal is to achieve high production in the wine. From my point of view this goal has been achieved. (Editor’s note: Read about how Valentin made Tempranillo a priority in La Mancha in this blog post “Tempranillo Pioneer.”)
Campos de Dulcinea is a winery producing organic wines from Toboso, Toledo, a town known worldwide for the
adventures and misadventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, his squire. Dulcinea was the platonic love of Don Quixote. Its production is small with a very high quality and outstanding personality in the wines.
In your opinion, what is the state of DO La Mancha? Is it on the rise?
We tasted many wines from many regions: La Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Jumilla, Galicia, Extremadura, Valencia, Navarra, Catalunya, Castilla Leon, Rueda and we found the price/quality to be best in the La Mancha wines. Our portfolio contains four different wines and three wineries from La Mancha. We look for wines with personality, meaning wines that differentiate themselves from the rest, memorable wines, and at the same time wines that Americans can enjoy.
In La Mancha, we found very gentle wines with sophisticated and complex aromas and enjoyable palates. Some of these wines are also very direct wines, middle to full body, very fruity, and above all very healthy, since they do not produce headaches or stomach upset. The wines we found in La Mancha are very well balanced which is a characteristic that Americans appreciate very much.
We’ve seen such an amazing increase in interest in Spanish wines. Do you think La Mancha has contributed to this enthusiasm toward Spanish wine? I think there’s still a long way to go. Based on my experience, La Mancha wine producing region is little known in New York. The American consumer is young, hungry for new tastes and experiences and, most importantly, without prejudices. While it is true that some still identify Rioja as Spanish wine, there are many who know the typical Spanish grapes such as tempranillo, Airen, Garnacha, Verdejo or albarino. I do not know if La Mancha has contributed to the enthusiasm for Spanish wines, although I know that when people try these wines they are very surprised by the quality and softness of these wines. I think the wines of La Mancha will add many positive surprises to the American market.