Castilla-la Mancha

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Castilla-La Mancha, known as Castile-La Mancha, in English (historically, Castilla la Nueva or New Castile), the lower, southern half of the plateau that makes up central Spain (see map under spain). At elevations between 400 and 1,000 m (1,300–3,500 ft) above sea level, this is Spain at her most extreme. Winters are long and cold with temperatures often falling below 0 °C/32 °F for days on end. In summer the heat is gruelling. The thermometer regularly rises above 35 °C, even 40 °C (104 °F), and little if any rain falls between May and September. The vast expanse of country which is green in the spring quickly turns to a shade of burnt ochre in July and August as all but the deepest river beds dry up completely. The locals say that they suffer ‘nine months of winter and three months of hell’. Despite these fierce conditions, Castilla-La Mancha produces half of all the wine made in Spain, with drip irrigation having amply compensated for the widespread vine pull since 2000. Around 465,000 ha/one million acres of vineyard yield an average of 20 million hl/530 million gal of wine (averaging much-increased yields of 43 hl/ha (2.6 tons/acre). One of Castilla-La Mancha’s nine (plus eight pagos) do regions, la mancha itself, is planted mainly with the robust white wine vine airén.