“To dream the impossible dream…”    Spain vies with France and Italy each year for the country with the largest production of wine.   Many people recognize the Spanish regions of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Penedes .  Few, however, know that La Mancha is the largest wine producing region in Spain, in fact in the world.  And even fewer know that the main grape grown there is the Airen grape which constitutes the most produced grape in the country. 

I visited La Mancha recently in search of some new wines to bring to the US market.   I started my wine import business 12 years ago with a wine from La Mancha that after importing it found that it came from what is now Spain’s largest wine company, Felix Solis.  I am one of the few people in the USA who understand what this region can provide. 

Until 20 years ago La Mancha was dismissed by any serious wine lover as the producer of cheap wine for the thousands of bars in Madrid.  But the wineries have turned their considerable assets, funds, lands and knowledge, to producing finer wines with grapes from other regions.  I started with a tempranillo grape wine that was essentially a prestigious label from a mass wine maker.  Many others have followed this lead.

But my latest trip was sparked by a wine made from the lowly Airen grape, the stuff of the cheap wines.  When I first tried it at a show in San Francisco, CA I was amazed.  Somehow the maker had crafted a wine for the US palate.  It had “Made for the USA” all over it.  I visited the maker in La Mancha where I complemented him on his wine.  He replied that it is their best seller and is doing very well in Spain and several other markets in Europe. 

We are now negotiating its introduction in the US market where I am sure it will be equally well received.  It compares well with other whites, including the very good Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand.  And it will retail at less than $8 a bottle.  In short, we have a wine from La Mancha that could very well reach the “impossible dream” of a white wine with humble origins selling well in the USA.