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Once the alluvial plains around the bustling city of Madrid contained enough grapevines to drown the city’s thirst, but all that bustle has pushed the vineyards farther and farther away. The carafes and porróns of the city’s bodegas have been filled with Valdepeñas and Rioja wines for over a century, instead of the local fare, but DO Pagos such as Guijoso, Valdepusa, and Finca Élez are bringing luster to vineyards that traditionally have been ignored. Clay and chalk tossed together over granite offer a worthy foundation for the vines, but any drinker looking for quality has seen only feast or famine since the DO’s creation in 1990. It would be reasonable to expect the DO’s consistency to change for the better soon.

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