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Saturday, June 1, 2013

La Mancha's "Bodegas ZAGARRON" wines 'Invade North America' by Philip S. Kampe





At one time when La Mancha was mentioned, I had visions of windmills, Don Quixote and everlasting sun light.

After a recent tasting of newly arrived wines from Bodegas Zagarron, a postwar vineyard comprised of 670 families, the words ‘La Mancha’ has taken on a new meaning for me.

Maybe it was how Patricia Lozano Cortes, Enologist from Zagarron, explained her passion for winemaking or maybe it was just the wines talking to me, but, after sampling three wines form Zagarron, La Mancha meant much more than Don Quixote.

La Mancha has taken on a new meaning to me.

Ask our peers about La Mancha and the discussion barely gets off of the ground.

Ask our peers to name the largest wine growing region in Spain and answers like Rioja, Navarra and Ribera del Duero are uttered.

Who would have imagined that La Mancha is the largest wine growing region in Spain?
With 450,000 acres, in fact, La Mancha is the ”Largest Wine Growing Region in the World”. What is even more interesting is that the varietals grown in La Mancha are mostly international varietals rather than indigenous varietals.

La Mancha’s name is believed to have Arab roots (Mantxa), which means dry land. With 280 days of sunshine, yearly, ripening of the grapes, without much worry for disease exists.

Geographically, La Mancha is approximately 90 miles south of Madrid. The region is known for its continental climate, with long, hot summers and cold winters. This means that the wine growers must contend with extreme temperatures, well above 100 degrees and frequent droughts during growing season.

Enologist Patricia Lozano Cortes, who basically lives at Bodegas Zagarron, explained that the region is going through changes and ideally wants to be identified with high quality wines at affordable prices. Her job was to prove to our group that this philosophy was adopted by Bodegas Zagarron, using her wine making skills.

Our job was to sample three wines along with special ‘snacks’, the new word for ‘tapas’, at the newly opened (four months) highly acclaimed Manzanilla brasserie in Manhattan.
This was owner and Michelin star chef Dani Garcia’s vision.

The first wine poured was the 2012 Garbeo, made with the Sauvignon Blanc grape (100%).  Everyone’s first question, in unison, to Patricia Lozano Cortes was:  How did you make this Sauvignon Blanc? Why is so different from any other Sauvignon Blanc in the market?

After a discussion about the wine making process, the 2300 feet of altitude the grapes were grown at and the sandy loam soil composition, we realized that Bodegas Zagarron produced special wines. In fact, I noted that this Sauvignon Blanc was to food, as is  Sangiovese for pizza. Both wines are food wines, one with a white grape and the other with a red grape. To prove my point, Chef Dani Garcia paired an amazing Oxtail Brioche and Tortillita Gaditana, a crisp shrimp dish, with the Sauvignon Blanc. These matches were ‘Made In Heaven’.

In addition to the ‘snacks’, I ordered an amazing Grilled Fennel Salad, full of avacados and manchego cheese to pair with the second wine, a 2012 Jaleo, made with the Grenache grape (100%).  Nora Faveluks, founder of QW Wine Experts chose to pair Huevos a la Flamenco, a dish made of a poached egg, spicy chorizo and English peas as a partner for the 2012 Jaleo. Both pairings were a huge success.

The final wine we sampled was the 2012 Tapeo, made of 100% Tempranillo. At 13% alcohol and fermented in stainless steel for seven days, this food-friendly wine found a partner in the signature Black Rice dish that I ordered. Black rice is just that, black rice colored by squid ink and topped with sautéed shrimp and cherry tomatoes, topped with a citrus aioli sauce. Nora Faveluks order of Iberico Pork Presa, a dish made with tomato pesto, potato and bacon terrine and asparagus paired equally as well with the lively, food-friendly Tempranillo. This wine was ‘Music in a bottle’.

Brand Ambassador Mickael Lourenco's  good fortune is to make North America aware that the wines from La Mancha, specifically Bodegas Zagarron, are the new wave of wines to hit our shore.
These are the wines of our Future!

Retailing at under $11.99 per bottle, who could complain?

Brand Manager Mickael Lourenco can be reached at; (917) 726-9635 ( mickael@zagarron.com )
Winemaker Patricia Lozano Cortes can be reaches at: +34 967 181 120 ( enologia@zagarron.com )

Philip S. Kampe

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