Top 10 Spanish regions to watch18th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
Formerly part of La Mancha, Manchuela lies in southeast Spain between the central sprawl of La Mancha and the coastal city of Valencia. With co-operatives accounting for over half of the production in the region, Manchuela is still a work in progress.
And while Syrah is showing great promise, indigenous variety Bobal has been singled out as the region’s flagship grape and now makes up half of Manchuela’s red grape plantings. Cultivated in low-yielding bush vines, the often fickle and long unloved Bobal is proving rewarding in the right hands.
Renowned Spanish wine writer Victor de la Serna is the best known name in the region with his Finca Sandoval estate putting Manchuela on the Spanish wine map. He considers Bobal one of the three most important red varieties of southeastern Spain, along with Garnacha and Monastrell, and describes it as having “a rustic, spicy, black fruit character and lovely freshness.”
One of the most exciting producers to watch in the region is Antonio Ponce of Bodegas Ponce, who is taking a natural approach with his biodynamic, foot-trodden Bobal. His white effort – El Reto (meaning “the challenge”) is made from 100% Albilla and boasts, according to Jancis Robinson MW, notes of honeysuckle, apple skin and preserved lemons.