A Skim of the Alejandro Fernández Collection
The wines of Alejandro Fernández are great. I’ve always enjoyed them, ever since my first acquaintance with Pesquera and Condado de Haza almost two decades ago.
So, it was with a particularly keen interest that I popped the cork on my first white from Grupo Pesquera. In fact, it’s the only white wine that the Fernández family makes, and it’s 100% Airén. Though topping the charts as the world’s most-planted white grape variety, Airén is usually looked down upon in fine wine circles. It’s used in Sherry and brandy, and given the warmth of La Mancha, where the grape is headquartered, it has long suffered a lower quality reputation. However, in the hands of Eva Fernández, one of Alejandro’s four daughters, this white sings. Its vivid impression will not soon be forgotten! Below is a skim of recent releases from three estates in the Fernández collection.
El Vínculo 2015 Alejairén La Mancha 13.5% $30
Deeply gold with topaz tinges, this wine is a sleeper coming straight out of the bottle. It needs decanting to open up; it’s even a bit stinky at first sniff. As it blossoms, it drinks more like a red than a white; serve it cool but not cold. Generous in body with mild acidity (the pH is a robust 3.69), there’s a vaguely dry sensation on the back palate that gives the wine just the right amount of lift. It smells of dried papaya and tastes of honey and caramel. Brilliant with aged cheeses or heavier poultry dishes with root veggies or even cream, this unusual wine can also be enjoyed alone in a contemplative setting.
El Vínculo 2013 Crianza La Mancha 14.5% $19
This suave and charming old vine Cencibel, the local lingo for Tempranillo, is grown amongst the more traditional Airén of La Mancha. Sourced from the three best growers in the area, this is an ambitious wine – as would be expected of Alejandro Fernández and his family. As with all of their reds, this fruit is hand-harvested then the wine is aged exclusively in small to mid-size American oak barrels. Moreover, there is never any fining or filtering. Brimming with flavors of dried mulberries and figs layered with bass notes of earthy beets and moist tobacco, this is a highly quaffable wine – despite its considerable mid-palate heft – with a nicely brisk finish. It’s an excellent companion for hearty, cold weather fare.
Condado de Haza 2015 Crianza Ribera del Duero 14.4% $24
Soft and supple with marked vinosity and sweet, charred oak tones, this vigorous wine is still decidedly youthful. On the sturdy palate, savory spice and Cuban cigar join the exuberant plethora of mulberries doused in cherry liqueur. The medium acidity gingerly lifts the wine toward the medium finish, where a vague tannic sensation helps to give the wine more evident definition.
Tinto Pesquera 2014 Crianza Ribera del Duero 14.5% $35
This gutsy wine shows the sultry heat of the Ribera summers in its full and lightly viscous body, deeply ripe array of succulent black fruits and somewhat lenient acidity. The chewy tannins offer more support, and their pleasant rusticity melds nicely with the back palate gaminess. The medium finish offers the flair of tertiary notes like dried autumn leaves and old leather. I loved this with T-bone steak! Surprisingly, it did not so hold well into Day 2 (the remaining 1/3 of the bottled recorked and stored in a regular refrigerator overnight), so open on a night when you plan to enjoy the full bottle.