Dreaming Impossible Dreams: Tilting at Windmills with Tempranillo and Verdejo from Castilla La Mancha #WorldWineTravel

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
Ooh, no matter how hopeless
No matter how far…

the beginning of “The Impossible Dream”
by Mitch Leigh (scroll down for complete lyrics) 
from The Man from La Mancha

Growing up, we had a player piano, and “The Impossible Dream” was one of the 100 player piano rolls I grew up playing and singing. Yes, we were that family that sang around the player piano together for fun, and when friends would visit they always wanted to take a turn or two. The words would scroll by as the music played. I have quite the repertoire of songs from the teens to the 70s. And by teens, I mean hits from 1917! 

I don’t blame “The Impossible Dream” for my penchant for impossible dreams, but the lyrics certainly serve as a shorthand for the way I’ve lived my life. 

 

For example, when I was 13 and on a backpacking trip in the San Jacinto Mountains of southern California high above Palm Springs, I learned about the Pacific Crest Trail which runs over 2700 miles from Mexico to Canada along the spine of three western states. Even though I was 13, I was girl, and I was new to backpacking, I set my mind to it: hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was something I would do. 

And so in 1985 with my former husband photographer Ken Alley in tow, I headed north from the California-Mexico border on the Pacific Crest Trail carrying two books: a natural history of California and The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. (Ken carried a bird book and Homer’s The Iliad and then Homer’s The Odyssey; he was on a different quest!)

PCT 1985: “Vivir loco, morir cuerdo!” — “live crazy, die sane!”

  • Like Don Quixote, I imitated the protagonists of the books I studied on how to hike the PCT, I donned the protective armor of hiking clothes and rain gear from Patagonia, I hitched myself to a pack, and I set off on a path to adventure… and I even had Sancho Panza also, in the form of my former spouse! 
  • Like Don Quixote, I would not let the naysayers get to me. A central tenant of the novel is that individuals can be right while society is wrong. No, I wouldn’t carry a gun, I wasn’t worried about bears, I was confident I could do it, but I also knew that while it might be an impossible dream, it was a dream worth making the effort for, whether I hiked 100 miles, 1000, 1800 from Mexico to Oregon or 2800 miles all the way to Canada.
  • Like Don Quixote, you might also say that I was “tilting at windmills” — an idiom meaning to attack imaginary enemies. To ’tilt at windmills’– they say– is to attack imaginary enemies and describes courses of action based on misunderstood heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.

But really, it’s more: if you tilt at windmills, you choose to joust, to engage, to embrace the world deeply, wildly, enthusiastically, passionately — you take on a task that lacking these qualities would be insurmountable. Most people thought that’s what I was on: an idealistic journey. That’s why Don Quixote was the perfect novel for me to take when I hiked the Pacific Crest trail. (Need a Don Quixote refresher? Check out this TedTalk. Also trailers below for new takes on this old tale).

I might have looked like a little girl but I carried with me BIG DREAMS. In 1987, I became one of the first 200 people to finish the PCT and one of the first 20 women. In 2019, I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. In 2019, I also competed on the US Wine Tasting Team. And when COVID allows, I will travel and trek again: I will circumnavigate Mt Kailash in the Himalayas and walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. 

Wine takes you on a journey — through time and space and place.

Drinking wine from La Mancha reminds me of reading The Man from La Mancha on the PCT and singing “The Impossible Dream” with my family.

Ecce Vinum organic wines from Castille La Mancha

And since I am writing about two wines imported by Verovino from Castilla La Mancha , I realize also how Sheila Donahue is likewise “titling at windmills” and “dreaming the impossible dream.” She progressed from finance in New York to finance in Italy to becoming a sommelier to importing and distributing wine from Italy, the Iberian peninsula, and California: wines made sustainably by family producers who grow their own organic grapes and make their own wines. 

Now that’s some serious tilting at windmills if you ask me!

For this month’s World Wine Travel’s focus on Castilla La Mancha hotel by Deanna Kang,  we have two wines from Ecce Vinum.  After 10 years making wines for other wineries around Spain. Moisès Casas started his winery Ecce Vinum Bodegas Moisès Casas in Castilla La Mancha.  With wide open vast stretches of land, the windswept region is perfect for windmills– and wine with the region’s high diurnal temperature swings and high elevations of up to 2500 ft above sea level, the region cooling the grapes at night and not as hot during the day here in Spain’s interior.

Castille La Mancha

Located just north of Andalusia, near Toledo the former capital of Spain, in 2009 Moisès started making his own wine with family vineyards and vines as old as 100 years, adopting organic and natural farming techniques and winemaking. According to Vero, “he believes in having terroir shine through in his wines through a handcrafted approach, including hand harvesting and gravity-flow techniques. He also uses natural yeasts in fermentation, and minimized the sulfites in his wines. Thanks to what mother nature has gifted, ‘the fruit achieves perfect maturation and balance between sugar and acidity without the need to use any chemical products in the vineyards or in the wines’ says Moisès.”  He produces only 50,000 bottles a year. 

Moises Casas in his organic vineyard

Vero offers a two bottle set with shipping that includes a 20% donation to Wine on Wheels which is co-founded by sommelier Yannick Benjamin. His organization Wine on Wheels bands together with wine lovers and professionals to work with people with disabilities to live life to the fullest and follow their passions no matter what.

To learn more, check out this conversation between winemaker Moises Casas and Yannick Benjamin in this recorded VeroTalk.

Ecce Vinum organic wines from Castilla La Mancha

Menu
Since Castille La Mancha is located north of Andalusian, we went with cuisine from that area plus Manchego — the cheese from La Mancha! 

Wines from Castilla La Mancha 

 

Ecce Vinum Verdejo

2019 Ecce Vinum Verdejo
ABV 12.5% 
SRP $20
sample

Located in La Mancha, Spain, Moises Casas of Ecce Vinum creates organic and natural wines that bring out the essence of the land and nature surrounding it. Natural yeast, screw top for easy access, for your beachside adventure. For more: Ecce Vinum  Verdejo

Color: Yellow with a greenish tinge, a bit cloudy, unfined and unfiltered

Aroma: Interesting banana, tropical fruit, citrus, straw or hay, sea grass, ocean essence. 

Palate: Lemon, tart, sizzling acidity, lemon lime. 

Pairing: This wine screams for oysters and other seafood. Super yummy with the fried chorizo, great with the olives. The wine was perfect with our garbanzo bean soup. There is a rich umami in the soup that pairs so nicely with the wine. With the lamb, the spices are brought to the forefront. It cuts through the richness in the lamb and elevates the complex spices. There is no gaminess to the lamb when paired with this wine.

We were surprised to find that we liked this white wine the best with the rich, spicy lamb dish!

The garbanzo bean dish was good with the wine making the wine super lemony and tart. This would be a really nice summer dish with the wine which you can top with a little fried chorizo for a hearty main course. 

Ecce Vinum Tempranillo

Ecce Vinum Tempranillo
ABV 13.5%
SRP $22
sample

Located in La Mancha, Spain, Moises Casas of Ecce Vinum creates organic and natural wines that bring out the essence of the land and nature surrounding it.

Serve your Tempranillo in a Syrah glass. 

Color: Bright and vibrant color, ruby with a garnet rim

Aroma: Bright cherry and plum, herbs de Provence, potpourri, jalapeno jelly, earthen, rhubarb, clay, mud, 

Palate: Light in body, rhubarb, tart and earthy, sage at the front of the palate, rhurbarb and crab apple, earth, oxcillas, and dryness on the finish

Pairing: Fantastic with the fried Spanish chorizo, loves the aged Manchego cheese, it makes the cheese rich creamy and nutty. The garbanzo spinach dish makes the wine taste like cinnamon ;the spinach does not however do much for the wine. The lamb brings out a nice cherry characteristic in the wine. Delicious with the garbanzo bean soup. 

 

Tempranillo

 

2019  La Sagacidad Tempranillo La Mancha
ABV 13% 
SRP under $10
purchased at Grocery Outlet 

I found this one at Grocery Outlet so we thought we’d thro int in the mix. Screw tops are so great with a picnic; this wine is unpretentious and delicious.

Color: Ruby with a pink rim, like watermelon rind on the rim

Aroma: Spicy cherry, cedar, baking spices, clove, cinnamon, rhubarb, earth and forest, amber, sandalwood, 

Palate: Bright beautiful fruit, cherry, cherry pie, fresh and fruity, macerated cherries, very nice acidity, mellow tannins, this is not the tannic beast that Tempranillo can be. We were surprised that this wine was as tasty as it was. 

Pairing: Super wonderful with fried Spanish Chorizo, great with the Manchego cheese bringing out an almond richness, creaminess in the cheese. The lamb dish works really well with the wine because of the richness of the meat but also because of the spices, the saffron and the coriander and the fennel work so well with the wine. The combination of flavors on the palate with the spinach and the beans and the lamb and the potatoes. This wine is perfect with this meal. The rich complex flavors that went into this meal were so absolutely perfect with this meal. Also great with our garbanzo bean soup. 

You’re invited to roam Castilla La Mancha with World Wine Travel group of writers! Below you’ll find out topics and the prompts for our Sat 8am Pacific #WorldWineTravel twitter chat.  

CHAT– if you missed it, search for #WorldWineTravel to find out discussion on these topics: 

  • 11/27/2021 11:00 a.m. EST  
  • Welcome to the #worldwinetravel chat on the Spanish wines of Castilla la Mancha! Introduce yourself and where you are tweeting from. Share a link to your blog if applicable.
  • 11/27/2021 11:05 a.m. EST
  • Q1 Did you know anything about the Spanish region of Castilla la Mancha prior to the #worldwinetravel virtual excursion this month?  Tell us your initial thoughts on this region.  If you didn’t know much beforehand, were you hesitant to join? 
  • 11/27/2021 11:15 a.m. EST 
  • Q2  Was it difficult to find a wine from the Spanish region of Castilla la Mancha?  Tell us how easy/hard it was to source the wine.  Do you have any tips for sourcing wines from lesser known wine regions in Spain or other countries?  #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:20 a.m. EST 
  • Q3 What wine did you choose to write about today? Share a link to your post, so we can read about it! #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:30 a.m. EST 
  • Q4 Please share a fun fact, something interesting, or something new that you learned about the Spanish wine region of Castilla la Mancha. #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:35 a.m. EST 
  • Q5 Did you serve food with your wine?  Show us some photos!  How did the pairing turn out?  What flavors worked well together and what didn’t?  #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:40 a.m. EST 
  • Q6 Let’s think of alternative pairings beyond food.  If you were going to pair your wine from Castilla la Mancha with a movie, book, or celebratory event, what would it be and why?  #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:45 a.m. EST 
  • Q7 Was your wine worth the price you paid for it?  Would you buy it again?  Would you recommend it to a friend?  Who would most enjoy drinking the wine you wrote about?  #worldwinetravel
  • 11/27/2021 11:50 a.m. EST
  • Q8 Share your parting thoughts on the region of Castilla la Mancha.  What was your key takeaway from this exploration?  How did it compare to other regions in Spain the #worldwinetravel group has already explored?
  • 11/27/2021 11:55 a.m. EST 
  • Thanks for joining the November 2021 #worldwinetravel chat on the wines of Castilla la Mancha, Spain. Next month will be “Open Mic” night as the #worldwinetravel group closes their year long exploration of the wine regions of Spain.  
  • 11/27/21 12:00pm EST
  • Shout out to @foodwineclick @martindredmond @savortheharvest @Culinary_Cam @tsteffes @artpredator @@linda_lbwcsw @wineivore for participating in this months enchanted exploration of Castilla la Mancha wines!

“The Impossible Dream”
by Mitch Leigh 
from The Man from La Mancha

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
And to run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong
And to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
Ooh, no matter how hopeless
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march, march into hell
For that heavenly cause

And I know
If I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart
Will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest
And the world will be better for this

Oh, that one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strong with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable, the unreachable
The unreachable star
Yeah, and I’ll always dream
The impossible dream
Yes, and I’ll reach
The unreachable star
 

 
The Man from La Mancha is having a moment in contemporary culture with two recent movies that play off the novel by Cervantez. I’m a huge fan of Terry Gilliam’s (his The Fisherking is one of my favorite films and I have taught it a number of times in my literature classrooms, and I wrote about it for grad school in Depth Psychology) and while a bit confusing, Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is quite a worthwhile romp that leaves a lingering impression. 
 

 
 
This trailer from the same film provides a bit more of a cohesive vision of the Gilliam film which stars Adam Driver:
 

 
In yet another film which plays off the story of Don Quixote and came out during the pandemic, check out The True Don Quixote which I haven’t seen yet but I’m looking forward to watching:
 

 
One last thought from Jung that strikes me as relevant: “If you will contemplate your lack of fantasy, of inspiration and inner aliveness, which you feel as sheer stagnation and a barren wilderness, and impregnate it with the interest born of alarm at your inner death, then something can take shape in you, for your inner emptiness conceals just as great a fullness if only you will allow it to penetrate you. If you prove receptive to this “call of the wild,” the longing for fulfillment will quicken the sterile wilderness of your soul as rain quickens the dry earth.” CW 14, par. 190. 
 
Where we’ve been in Spain in 2021:

12 thoughts on “Dreaming Impossible Dreams: Tilting at Windmills with Tempranillo and Verdejo from Castilla La Mancha #WorldWineTravel

  1. Great story about your personal quest. I like how it ties into the region and wines for this month’s topic. Anyone passionate enough to pursue winemaking in sun-baked central Spain is definitely tilting at windmills. But just look at the results! Impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow this post has everything! The personal story, poetry, childhood dreams, love and love lost, wine and food. What a feast! Really unbelievable feat to have hiked the whole PCT–and also actually read Don Quixote, and did the two together! Loved reading all about it, and virtually sharing the the Andalusian meal. Thanks for participating in this month’s exploration!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am IN LOVE with this post! It has a bit of everything, but my personal favorite was your story on the trail. You amaze me and I also learned about “tilting windmills” which I hadn’t connected with before now. Fantastic post and my favorite of the year with this theme.

    Liked by 1 person

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