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Value Wines from La Mancha
A quick quiz: What is the largest wine producing region on the
planet? Which wines available on today’s American retail wine
shelves represent arguably the best value in price and quality? More
than likely few would have guessed the wonderful wines from the La
Mancha region of Spain as the answer to both. These gems are
gradually getting more domestic marketplace exposure and while wines
from afar can be a little confusing, La Mancha makes it easy-if it
is a D. O. classified release- by adding a graphic of Don Quixote
mounted on his horse somewhere on the label.
Ritz-Carlton Atlanta faces fabled Peachtree Street where the world
premiere of Gone With The Wind took place in 1939. Just a few blocks
away is the white marble tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the
nearby Jimmy Carter Presidential Center. The regal Ritz-Carlton is
widely viewed as occupying the pinnacle of luxury in this region and
is the centerpiece of Atlanta’s global reputation for Southern
hospitality. It’s no surprise that the hotel and it’s gourmet
restaurant enjoys an unmatched reputation for fine dining and great
wines and continues to be a top choice for visiting celebrities and
heads of state.
professional Brian White serves as the landmark hotel’s sommelier
and we sat down recently to discuss the wines of La Mancha “I think
that La Mancha is a region whose time has come,” Mr. White said.
“Not to overstate the obvious, but why wouldn't the world's largest
wine region produce some gems? La Mancha is a workhorse region
producing wines from a multicolored rainbow of grape varieties. The
single varietal and blended wines coming out of this region are
great for a dinner party, backyard barbeques, and easy sipping.”
conversation confirmed that variety, affordability and utility are
attractive advantages these wines offer.
some of his favorites from La Mancha. “The
rosado, wines are
particularly intriguing,” he said, “because they are fresh, vibrant,
and a great value at ten dollars or less retail. These wines are
made from Garnacha, Censibel, Tempranillo, and many other grape
varieties, and they range in color from light pink and salmon to
almost a violet or lavender hue.” White advised wine shoppers to
“look for sparkling wines from La Mancha in the category.”
Brian White selected two wines as examples of La Mancha quality:
Gotas de Plata, Brut Rosado
- This is a delicious late summer sparkler with dense and fragrant
strawberry aromas and flavors.
Comino Los Robles Rosado (not sparkling)
- Here’s one that is organic and vegan friendly and this rosado is
made from 100% Tempranillo.
The interesting thing about rosé wines", continued White,
particularly the ones he selected from La Mancha, is that "they have been overlooked by
Americans for decades."
"My pairing experience with each of the Rosado
wines selected by Brian White, confirmed food-friendliness, making my Jambalaya, many
say a first cousin of Paella, even more delightful. I for one am
very happy to see things turning around for this forgotten warm
weather wine,” White added. We both agreed that terrific rosés like these from La Mancha deserve a place
on the wine menu of a heralded restaurant. “These are just some of my picks to look for from this often overlooked region.”
Summer is drawing to a close and all the glory of the new season is welcome.
New seasons suggest new wine adventures. While the wines from La
Mancha are just beginning their American introduction, but are out
there if you shop. What fun it is to enjoy a bottle now at a
giveaway price knowing that with popularity sure to come, these
bargains won’t last long.
Chef Brandon Frohne's Paella
Recipe by Chef Brandon Frohne, an award winning 4th generation Chef and Winery Chef at
the acclaimed Chateau Élan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Ga.
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 30 min
4 ounces boneless chicken breast, large dice
1/4 cup diced white
2 tablespoons minced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup baby heirloom
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 cup Chardonnay
1 cup Valencia, Arboriio, or Spanish rice
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups lobster stock
Lobster Tails, meat removed and large dice
1/2 pound Tiger
Prawns, peeled and de-veined
6 Little Neck Clams
6 Prince Edward Island Mussels
1/2 pound chorizo sausage, julienned
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
In a large Paella Pan or heavy
cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Note: You will need a somewhat deep cooking dish, large
cast-iron skillet, or the traditional Paella Pan (a round flat pan with two handles).
Season the diced chicken breast with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté to a golden brown for approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Leave the chicken in
the pan and add the onions, garlic, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, and fresh thyme. Sauté mixture for an additional 2 minutes.
Deglaze the pan with the chardonnay wine, scraping up all brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
Increase the heat to medium-high heat. Add the rice, chicken stock, lobster stock, and saffron threads to the mixture and bring to a boil.
Reduce mixture by 1/2, stirring occasionally, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the lobster, prawns, clams, mussels, sausage, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Turn heat down to medium and let simmer for 5 to 7 minutes
until seafood is gently poached. Toss in fresh the parsley and lemon basil.
Finish by folding in the butter at the end to produce a rich creamy flavor.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.