El Vinculo Alejairen 2014
Alejandro Fernández’ fourth winery, El Vínculo, sits nearby the iconic Campo de Criptana windmills in the northern part of the D.O. La Mancha and is a tribute to and a continuity of the winemaking tradition of the Fernández family. It is named after his father’s medieval subterranean home cellar in the hills of Pesquera de Duero where, in early childhood, Alejandro accompanied his family for their afternoon merienda, or snack, and an evening full of wine and song. The gathering place was affectionately called El Vínculo, meaning “union” or “link,” and was where Alejandro initially learned to make wine.
After traveling the length and breadth of La Mancha, in 1999 the “Master of Tempranillo” finally found what he was looking for: high-quality, old Tempranillo vines, perfectly adapted to local conditions. Convinced that the quality potential was immense as long as yield and selection were carefully controlled, Alejandro surprised local growers by his new way of working the La Mancha vineyards. By sourcing fruit through long-term contracts with growers focused on low yields and precise harvesting, Alejandro ensures first-rate La Mancha grapes give rise year after year to fine wines with unparalleled wine aromas and flavors.
Across his four bodegas, Alejandro’s only deviation from pure Tempranillo varietal wines is El Vínculo’s Alejairén. Despite the Airén variety being the most widely planted grape in the D.O. La Mancha and in the world, Alejairén was the first barrel-aged 100% Airén wine produced in Spain, proving that Airén can develop rich flavors, complexity and texture, far beyond its usual role as a simple table wine.
The Moors gave it the name, ‘Manxa,’ which fittingly means ‘parched earth.’ La Mancha, the largest wine producing region in all of Spain, is one of its hottest and driest. Sturdy and drought-resistant white varieietes like Airen, Viura and Verdejo thrive in this environment.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of white grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.