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Tuesday 21 February 2017

The London Foodie Goes to Spain’s Castilla-La Mancha – The Historic Town of Consuegra for Saffron G&Ts and Tilting at Windmills

Travelling through the region of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, I got to experience much of what this part of the country has to offer – the fabulous cooking, and affordable fine dining scene in Toledo, reviewed here, as well as the charming theatre town of Almagro, and the nearby Parque Nacional de las Tablas de Daimiel, a great place for bird watching, hiking and communing with nature, which I also wrote about here.

In this third feature, I report on the tiny town of Consuegra in Castilla-La Mancha, situated between Cuidad Real and Toledo. This is the home of the famous windmills of Consuegra, which were immortalised in Cervantes’ classic book Don Quixote. 

Molinos de Viento de Consuegra (the Windmills of Consuegra)

The twelve huge windmills are on the top of a hill, and originally served to grind wheat flour. 

Each has its own name, and at the Bolero windmill you will find the Tourist Office. 

Here it is also possible to see the grinding stone and the full mechanism from inside the windmill.

But the best thing to do here is to walk around the white windmills, taking stock of the wonderful scenery of the castle and the surrounding hills.  

Saffron Gin & Tonic at Café La Antigua

Spain is one of the top quality producers of saffron in the world, and here at Consuegra, one of the most enjoyable ways to try this highly prized spice is in a good old-fashioned G&T, as I discovered at the Café La Antigua. 

Barman Jesus fixed us some mean G&Ts at Café La Antigua, and I was intrigued to see that the saffron strands were frozen into the ice cubes, rather than used to infuse the gin as I have done in the past. This version made for a subtly coloured and flavoured cocktail, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The town is also known for its hojaldre, a sugared puff pastry treat that went down very well with our saffron G&Ts. 

Café La Antigua is a great stop on the way to or from the windmills of Consuegra.

Museo Casa de Cervantes in Esquivias

If you have read Don Quixote or have an interest in the life and work of Miguel Cervantes, I would recommend a visit to the Museo Casa de Cervantes. 

Situated in the town of Esquivias in the province of Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, Museo Casa de Cervantes was originally the 16th century home of the eponymous writer and his wife Caterina de Palacios. The building has been painstakingly restored and gives a real feel for how Cervantes and Caterina might have lived their lives. 

This is also where Cervantes did a lot of his writing, and is therefore a place of great historic significance. It is thought that many of his characters were inspired by the town of Esquivias and its inhabitants, which contributed to his extraordinary literary creations within the walls of this house. 

Adjacent to the house there is an impressive exhibition of sketches bringing to life the fascinating life story of Spain’s most famous writer.  This is a great place to spend a couple of hours learning all about Cervantes.

Wines from the Land of Don Quixote 

Located in Bargas in the Province of Toledo, Bodega Finca Loranque is a 200-year-old winery, and is among the oldest in the region. Perhaps paradoxically, the winery is equipped with state of the art technology, which helps it produce some of the most prized wines of the area. 

Castilla-La Mancha is one of Spain’s most important wine producing regions, with nine Denominaciónes de Origen (DOs). It is the largest continuous vine growing area in the world, and consequently it is also where more than half of the country’s grapes are grown. 

Historically known for the bulk production of table wine, recent years (and particularly 1986 when Spain joined the European Union) have seen a winemaking revolution which has transformed the image and quality of Castilla-La Mancha’s wines.

At Bodega Finca Loranque we were told that both large producers and single estates in Castilla-La Mancha now employ modern wine making technologies, combined with a judicious selection of grape varieties to make the most of the challenging Continental climate – with very hot summers and very cold winters. As a result only grape varieties which can tolerate such testing conditions are planted, including Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha and Syrah.

On our visit to Bodega Finca Loranque, we had a wine tasting with the winemaker. The tasting started with a Finca Loranque 2013 Syrah-Tempranillo 50:50 blend. Aged for fourteen months in French and American oak barrels, this had powerful red fruit compote quality with hints of liquorice.

Next up was the Finca Loranque 2013 Cencibel, the first vintage of this new wine. It came from a small 2-hectare vineyard plot, and only 4,000 bottles were made. With cherry colour, aromatic herbs, red fruit, vanilla and cinnamon and a balancing acidity, this was an elegant and rounded wine, with well-integrated tannins and a medium finish. 

Better still was the Loranque de La Cruz 2013, made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Hand harvested and aged 16 months in oak barrique, this had powerful aromas of deep red fruit, with vanilla and cedar notes, balanced tannins and great length. This is the top wine of the range, and I purchased a few bottles to bring home. 

Bodega Finca Loranque is open for visits and tastings, and presents a great opportunity to learn about some of the well made wines of Castilla-La Mancha. For more details, see the Travel Essentials section below. 

The #InLaMancha campaign was created and sponsored by Turismo Castilla La Mancha in partnership with iambassador. The London Foodie maintains full editorial control over all content published on this site as always.

Travel Essentials

Molinos de Viento de Consuegra (Windmills of Consuegra)
45700 Consuegra

Café La Antigua
Plaza España, 5
45700 Consuegra

Museo Casa de Cervantes
Plaza Miguel de Cervantes, 0
45221 Esquivias

Bodega Finca Loranque
S/N 45593


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