Central Spain includes the enormous La Mancha DO, just south of Madrid. While La Mancha is the largest of Spain’s wine regions, production is relatively low, as the vines are small and planted far apart to maximize the little available water. The region’s most-farmed grape, Airén, is little-known beyond Spain. It’s a native white grape used to make brandy, blend with some red wines and, only recently, produce its own varietal wine. The primary red grape of the region is the indigenous Tempranillo, known locally as Cencibel. Historically, the red wines of this hot, dry region were strong and sweet, but today winemakers in the DOs of La Mancha, Valdepeñas, Valencia, Alicante and Jumilla are producing fine wines in a more modern and international style with Tempranillo, Monastrell and other red grape varieties. The Vino de Pago quality rating originated here to recognize some of these exceptional wines.