Manchuela, formerly part of La Mancha, lies on the eastern side of the area known as the Meseta which cuts across central Spain. The main town is Albacete and the region’s most significant neighbours for comparison are Ribera del Júcar (another area which has split from La Mancha) to the west and Utiel-Requena to the east towards the Mediterranean coast. Manchuela is also contained between two river valleys of note: the rivers Júcar and Cabriel virtually trace the frontiers with Ribera del Júcar and Utiel-Requena.

Manchuela became a DO in its own right in 2000 allowing the region to develop a separate identity. Unlike La Mancha, the Bobal grape reigns supreme here; it is generally cultivated in the traditional “en vaso” (bush vine) form although there is a gradual move to modern trellis systems. The vines tend to be low-yielding and are able to withstand the very dry summers in this region.

Overall conditions are very favourable for quality: the influence of cooling winds from the east makes the climate slightly milder than that of La Mancha while dry conditions and plenty of sun keep diseases at bay and the use of pesticides to a minimum. Fresh night time breezes favour a slow ripening of grapes and good colour and flavour development.

Winemakers are achieving better quality wines with Bobal for both red and rosé wines while other varieties including Syrah are showing great promise. There are some serious producers here; it’s just a question of spreading the word. See also DOs of Utiel-Requena and Ribera del Júcar.