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Spanish wine - Wines and wine brands of Spain
The most famous Spanish wine is without doubt Rioja, but that does not mean that the delicious Rioja Brand Wines are all that the sunny Spanish wine yards has to offer.
Right now the very most prestigious Spanish wines are not the already world famous Rioja wines: The Spanish wine district Rivera del Duero is now offering some of the very, very best red wines in the world.
La Mancha Spain
La Mancha: A region that has much to offer!
The Spanish region "La Mancha" where where Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were fighting against windmills in Miguel de Cervantes historical literary work and is now a sleepy place far from the bustling coast and from the mayor Spanish cities.
In La Mancha where you can still see the windmills that rise high against the otherwise very flat landscape and wine yards. The region's wines are often not considered to be more than ordinary table wines: What a mistake!
Most visitors to La Mancha just go past on their way from the south of Spain to Madrid, but without stopping for a moment to enjoy the scenery, the Don Quixote routes and local specialities like the mature cheeses and fine wines.
The Autonomous Region of Castile-La Mancha, one of the largest regions in Spain by virtue of its 79,226 square kilometers (30,589 sq. miles) of surface area, is made up of the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Toledo and Guadalajara. Thanks to its proximity to Madrid, the nation’s capital, Castile-La Mancha is well connected by road and rail, and is served by a frequent and regular train and coach service. It is distinctive in that the lustre of bygone times is still to be seen in the streets and squares of a region that has successfully managed to combine preservation of its rich heritage with a resolute drive for progress. This is something that is eloquently borne out by the enchanting maze-like layout of Toledo, the district capital, an enclave inscribed in the golden book of history for having been the home of Arabic, Jewish and Christian cultures for centuries, in an atmosphere of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. To mark the fourth centenary of the publication of the first part of Miguel de Cervantes’ immortal work, Don Quixote of La Mancha, in 1605, an itinerary of this noble land has been drawn up, which takes in the most representative places mentioned in the novel written by the literary genius dubbed the manco de Lepanto (manco; one armed or one-handed, the nickname given to Miguel de Cervantes after losing the use of his left hand at the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571).
It is a 2,500- kilometre (1550-mile) ecotourism conservationist corridor, delimited and defined by cañadas (ancient ways used by the mestas –medieval guilds or associations of livestock breeders- to drive their flocks and herds to the winter and summer pastures), cattle trails and historical routes, and amounting to an awesome cross-section of scenic gems and art with a capital “A”. A mosaic of plurality and life that runs through 144 towns in Castile-La Mancha and forms the backbone of the very core of this region, faithfully following the trail of all the main geographical landmarks linked to the adventures of Don Quixote, a literary character that has taken on a life of its own, to the point of becoming a symbol of the country’s identity. The Don Quixote Route is conceived as a groundbreaking regional model, for Spain and the European Union as a whole, intended to become a cultural odyssey on a par with the ageold Pilgrims’ Way to Santiago de Compostela (Camino de Santiago - St. James way)) or evocative Silver Route (Ruta de la Plata). It aims at connecting the countless tourist resources –both natural and artistic scattered across the length and breadth of the Castilian- Manchegan Region, in an orderly manner. Divided into ten stretches or “legs” that are designed to be toured and enjoyed at the measured pace of the journeys of yesteryear, the purpose of the route is to join monumental ensembles and rural areas, sights of scenic interest and spaces transformed by nature into an imposing spectacle. Furthermore, in an effort to revive the most graphic aspects of local lore and memory, the entire itinerary has been routed along highways and byways in the public domain, i.e., cattle trails, traditional ways and paths, riverbanks and disused railway stations. Classified as the longest green way in Europe, the route can be covered on foot, horseback or bicycle, in that it is perfectly equipped with 100 car parks located at points along the regional road network, 50 mountain-hut-like rest facilities situated in the midst of the countryside, plus hundreds of map panels, explanatory notice boards and signpost markers. Indeed, this is an itinerary that could in all justice be rated “handicapped-accessible”, since 70% of the route is purpose-designed to afford access to disabled people. travelers will thus be able to visit as many as 2,000 points of tourist interest on a route that combines art, spirituality, culture and cosmopolitism in the right proportions. It is no coincidence that, on gazing across the limitless horizons of Castile-La Mancha, the writer, Jean Cocteau, exclaimed, “At last I have seen the planet!”
THE GEOGRAPHIC SETTING OF DON QUIXOTE
To explore the Manchegan geography is the ideal way to comprehend the finer details of Cervantes’ universe, embodied in the character of Don Quixote, romantic hero par excellence, who strove to attain ultimate knowledge and wisdom, by riding in pursuit of his star along the roads of a region, which at the time was dotted with hostelries, country houses and inns, and is now overflowing with literary, cultural and environmental values. The knightly challenges and duels of that nobleman of incommensurable chivalry and bonhomie, unfailingly accompanied by the ever loyal and practical Sancho Panza, make for a mixed bag of tales and anecdotes set against a is all the glory of its ancient roots. A gratifying patchwork of historic towns and villages distinguished by the golden richness of their stone, a stone that exudes a flavour trapped on the palate of remembrance. The gallant and implausibly fanciful episodes of the most internationally renowned Spanish work of literature are framed against settings such as the Medrano Cave. This was the former prison in the town of Argamasilla de Alba, where, tradition has it, Cervantes began writing Don Quixote, the man fated to be dubbed a knight in a wayside hostelry in Puerto Lápice, thanks to a ceremony performed by the inn-keeper - mistakenly assumed by the noble Don to be a great lordin the presence of two Sevillebound wenches or “mozas de partido” (a lightly veiled euphemism for women of easy virtue). His beloved and idealised Dulcinea, a certain Aldonza Lorenzo of modest origins, lived in El Toboso, where, opposite the parish church, Don Quixote was to utter to Sancho the famous phrase, “we have come up against the church”, whilst the windmills who in his imagination assumed the guise of perfidious giants, belonged to the town of Campo de Criptana. And there is more to come…for the Montesinos Cave also appears in the book. Indeed, it was here that he met the wizard Merlin, who explained to him the origin of the Ruidera Lakes, claiming that these had arisen by virtue of Doña Ruidera’s daughters and nieces being transformed into the famous lagoons. Likewise, the River Guadiana is the result of a spell cast by the wizard on Durandarte’s squire [Guadiana by name], whose grief accounts for the fact that the river appears and disappears at will. Accordingly, the panoply of characters and situations that constitute the essence of Don Quixote occupies a special place in Castile-La Mancha’s roll of honour. Don Quixote’s thirst for glory, a dreamer at constant odds with reality, is still very much alive in this territory haloed in ancestral legend and memory. A region with its own aesthetic, converted -thanks to the noble hidalgo- into a cultural focal point of universal renown (hidalgo; literally, “son of something”, i.e., gentry). As the idealistic Manchegan knight-errant so graphically demonstrated in his wanderings…utopias are attainable.
In recent years the wine producers in La Mancha has realized that what the market demands is quality wines. Now La Mancha produces many new and interesting wines in the area, who also gave its name to one of the absolutely most delicious cheese in the world: Queso Manchego.
The Spanish manchego cheese is associated directly with the cured Spanish ham Jamon Serrano, even though the two products do not come from the same area. The point is that the perfect combination is to serve Spain's most popular ham and cheese together along with fresh bread and of course with a good Spanish wine. Do not try to substitute the Spanish serrano ham for Italian Parma ham. Who has ever tasted the real Spanish ham, has forgotten the Italian ham forever!
The perfect combination is Manchego cheese, Serrano ham, a good Spanish wine, fresh bread, and last but not least, although we have not said it before: Good Spanish olives! Impress your guests without bothering cooking food and cleaning up a dirty kitchen: Spanish manchego cheese, Spanish Serrano ham, olives, warm bread and a good wine is the best you can invite guests. Do you want to add something extra? A fresh green salad with pure olive oil and vinegar.