I was fortunate enough to attend a tasting of Alejandro Fernández wines at Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff) previously and remember being very impressed by their complexity and longevity. Being some time ago, however, it almost feels like I’m tasting these for the first time this evening but with the knowledge that I’m definitely in for a treat!
Dehesa La Granja 2012
Dehasa La Granja, purchased in 1998, is one of the four bodegas of legendary producer Alejandro Fernández. Given exclusively to Tempranillo, its 100 hectare vineyard area lies within the greater 850 hectare farm estate (which also undertakes livestock farming, producing olive oil, goat cheese and chickpeas). Uniquely, the estate boasts a 3000m² network of subterranean, 18th century tunnels which provide the home for the cellars. Located in Castilla y León in the region of Zamora, the climate is continental with hot, dry summers and very cold winters. The average age of the vines is 25 years, planted on a soil of clay, sandstone and limestone at altitudes of between 620 and 750 metres. The wine is aged in American oak barrels for 24 months and, as with all of the family’s wines, receives no fining or filtration prior to bottling. It is a vino de la tierra wine.
The wine has a deep ruby appearance with a pronounced aroma of baked black plum, toffee, smoke, cedar, vanilla, black cherry, leather and nutmeg. That is one hell of a nose!
On the palate, it is full bodied with high acidity, medium tannins and a generous length, boasting an intoxicating mix of blackberry, red cherry, black plum, vanilla, smoked meat, liquorice and black olives.
It has a lovely, savoury complexity and will age well for years to come. Benefits from being decanted at least half an hour before serving.
El Vinculo Crianza 2015
Another bodega owned by the Fernández Family’s ‘Groupo Pesquera’, El Vinculo was purchased in 1999 and is located in the Northern reaches of La Mancha D.O., in Campo de Criptana. Translating as ‘union’ or ‘link’, it is named after Alejandro’s father’s medieval cellar (and family meeting place) and the connection of the two regions (Castilla y León and Castilla La Mancha). The warmest of their four estates (still with a continental climate), the 80 hectares of vineyards are again comprised of old (25 year average), low-yielding Tempranillo vines, planted at an altitude of between 650 and 750 metres on a soil of clay and sand. As with the Dehesa, the grapes are hand harvested, de-stemmed and kept whole for fermentation. Ageing taking place in American oak barrels for 18 months, with a further 6 months minimum in bottle.
This has a medium ruby appearance and a medium intensity nose, giving notes of sweet strawberry, red cherry, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, rose and hints of earth.
On the palate it is medium plus bodied with grippy tannins and nicely balanced acidity. It has flavours of sour red cherry, strawberry, blueberry, redcurrant, buttery toast, vanilla and cinnamon. In other words, it’s rather sexy!
This is drinking very well now but it will age nicely for several years, by which time the tannins will have dissipated further (although they are perfectly manageable now).
In summary, I enjoyed both wines for different reasons. The El Vinculo is the more fruit-forward, approachable of the two with the oak ageing clearly giving it a generous degree of elegance and character and I think many people would find this very enjoyable (as I do). It has a lovely label too!
The Dehesi, however, is quite different. It’s a distinctive, punchy, moody wine with bold flavours and a muscular frame. I love it. Whereas the El Vinculo shows as a willing partner for food, I’ll be sure to have a cigar on standby for the Dehesi next time! I really liked the integration of the primary and tertiary aromas and flavours and it’s definitely a wine you need to take your time with….which I have no problem with whatsoever!
Both wines are available at Fine Wines Direct (Cardiff):
Also see: http://www.familiafernandezrivera.com