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BODEGAS A. FERNáNDEZ/EL VíNCULO

Region: Castilla - La Mancha
Appellation: D.O. La Mancha
City: Campo de Criptana
Winery Website: www.elvinculo.com

OVERVIEW

In 1999, the discovery of old, head-pruned Tempranillo (Cencibel) vineyards amidst a sea of white (Airén) grapes convinced Alejandro Fernández, of famed Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in Ribera del Duero, to undertake one last bodega, in the historic windmill village of Campo de Criptana. Contracting with selected growers for low yields and early, select harvesting, unprecedented balance and structure for the region has been achieved.

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HISTORY

With the 1998 purchase of La Granja Valdeguareña in Zamora Alejandro found it necessary to reestablish legal planting rights for this once-proud wine estate, which had been converted to fighting bulls one hundred years prior. European Common Market law allows for transfer of such rights from over planted areas, such as La Mancha. Time spent among the old vineyards of Campo de Criptana in Ciudad Real province convinced Alejandro that the potential for quality there was immense, so long as the scarce, old-vine Tempranillo could be isolated from predominating white varieties, yield and selection being carefully controlled.

From his earliest childhood, Alejandro Fernández recalls accompanying his family and friends to the cotarro (hillside) above Pesquera de Duero to gather in the medieval subterranean bodega of his father for merienda (evening snack), enlivened by plenty of wine, food and song. There Alejandro learned to make wine, and a lifestyle resonant of the ages was passed to a new generation. This convivial gathering place, affectionately called el vínculo (the union, or linkage) recalls the early roots of Alejandro's winemaking career.

In early 1999 Alejandro purchased an abandoned winemaking facility by the train station in Campo de Criptana, last used during World War II for the production of alcohol. He immediately undertook a total renovation and installation of modern winemaking facilities for the production of limited quantities of concentrated, oak aged red wine. The first vintage, 1999, underwent malolactic fermentation and aging 16 months in oak followed by six months in bottle prior to its scheduled domestic market début in December 2001. Aptly christened El Vínculo, this wine closes a circle of Tempranillo-producing Fernández properties.

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PRESS

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2009) - "Opaque ruby. Smoky, oak-accented dark berry and cherry aromas are brightened by a peppery nuance and a hint of clove. Sappy, sweet and expansive, offering intense cherry-vanilla and blackberry preserve flavors and a touch of mocha. Supple tannins give shape to the finish, where the spice and cherry notes echo strongly. This wine was raised entirely in American oak; I'll bet on it being even better after the lumber has had time to mesh with the fruit."

90(+?) Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Sep 1, 2013

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2006) - "Full ruby. Aromas of dark fruits, pipe tobacco, spicecake and woodsmoke are lifted by a floral nuance. Sweet, spicy and focused, with good energy to its blackberry and and licorice flavors. Finishes smoky, spicy and long, with youthful tannins and lingering sweetness. This has the structure to age nicely over the medium term."

90 Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Sep 1, 2011

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El Vínculo Reserva (2005) - "Deep ruby. Pungent, expressive aromas of black and blue fruits, with complicating notes of smoked meat, licorice and Indian spices. Picks up suave oak spice and floral nuances with air, offering sweet black raspberry and cassis flavors enlivened by juicy acidity. Fine-grained tannins give shape and grip to the long, smoky finish. This is still quite youthful."

92 Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Sep 1, 2011

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2006) - "The purple-colored 2006 El Vinculo Tinto Crianza went through malolactic fermentation in mostly new American oak where it remained for 18 months. It offers up an aromatic array of earthy minerality, underbrush, espresso, licorice, and assorted black fruits. Nicely proportioned on the palate with layered rich fruit, excellent concentration and volume, and a lengthy, fruit-filled finish, this potentially complex effort will benefit from another 2-3 years of cellaring and provide prime drinking from 2013 to 2018+."

92 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Jul 1, 2011

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El Vínculo Reserva (2005) - "The opaque purple 2005 El Vínculo Reserva spent 24 months in barrel. It is a more backward wine giving up aromas of smoke, Asian spices, licorice, tapenade, and blackberry. This lengthy effort will be at its best from 2013 to 2020+. "

93 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Jul 1, 2011

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2004) - "Fat and meaty; earthy and bright with sweet vanilla and ripe plum and blackberry fruit; rich and balanced."

91 Points
Anthony Dias Blue, Tasting Panel, Jul 2, 2010

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El Vínculo Paraje La Golosa Gran Reserva (2003) - "The 2003 El Vinculo Paraje la Golosa Gran Reserva was sourced from a single parcel of head-pruned Tempranillo over 60 years of age. It exhibits an alluring bouquet of smoke, mineral, espresso, roasted herbs, black cherry, and blackberry. On the palate it is dense, structured, and balanced with 3-4 years of aging potential. This incipiently complex effort will offer optimal drinking from 2013 to 2013."

92 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Apr 30, 2010

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El Vínculo Paraje la Golosa Reserva (2003) - "Vivid red. Powerful aromas of singed cherry and dark berries, licorice, vanilla and smoke, with a sexy floral overtone. Ripe and expansive, offering deep bitter cherry and blackcurrant flavors with slow-building, pliant tannins adding shape and structure. A weighty, rich and ripe wine that manages to maintain focus. Finishes with a suave floral note, with very good smoky, spicy persistence. Serve this with a rich lamb dish."

92 Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Sep 17, 2009

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2005) - "Dark ruby. Wild, pungent dark berry and raw meat aromas are complemented by violet and tobacco. Smells vaguely rude, but on the palate this is all sweet berry fruit, with the supple blackberry and cassis flavors firmed by chewy tannins and picking up musky herbal and dried floral qualities with air. Finishes sweet, with firm, slightly bitter cherry and blackcurrant skin flavors and very good persistence."

91 Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Oct 1, 2008

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El Vínculo Reserva (2001) - "This wine is a terrific example of Spanish Tempranillo. This opaque dark purple wine opens up with a black current and light oak bouquet. On the palate, this medium bodied wine is smooth, balanced, and has a very dry mouthfeel. The flavor profile of this youthful wine is spicy blackberry with a touch of black cherry and oak. The finish remains dry and its pronounced tannins stick with you for an extended period of time. This wine would pair nicely with a pepper encrusted steak. This wine is also a wine that would reward you if you cellar it for several years. Enjoy - Ken"


Ken Hoggins, Ken's Wine Guide, Jul 15, 2008

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El Vínculo Paraje la Golosa Reserva (2002) - "These wines are all 100% Tempranillo. The 2002 El Vinculo Paraje la Golosa is the first release of this wine. It reveals a complex, expressive perfume of smoke, spice box, mineral, and assorted black fruits which jump from the glass. Surprisingly forward (perhaps due to the vintage), the wine nevertheless has the structure for several years of further evolution. Although it can be enjoyed now, it should drink well through 2020. These wines demonstrate the potential of La Mancha, a large region known in the past primarily for bulk wines, but now increasingly the focus of top vignerons such as Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame"

92 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Apr 29, 2008

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El Vínculo Reserva (2004) - "These wines are all 100% Tempranillo. The 2004 El Vinculo Reserva delivers greater aromatic complexity with notes of toasty oak, spice box, blackberry, and black cherry. On the palate the wine is full-bodied bordering on plush, with mouth-coating dark fruits, ripe tannin, and a lengthy, pure finish. Give it another 4-6 years in the cellar and drink it through 2024."

91 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Apr 29, 2008

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2005) - "These wines are all 100% Tempranillo. The 2005 El Vinculo Crianza offers a fragrant nose of cedar, saddle leather, and black fruits. This is followed by a full-bodied, structured wine with good balance, depth, and length. It should evolve for another 3-4 years and drink well through 2020. These wines demonstrate the potential of La Mancha, a large region known in the past primarily for bulk wines, but now increasingly the focus of top vignerons such as Alejandro Fernandez of Pesquera fame."

90 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Apr 29, 2008

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2004) - "From a superior vintage, is purple-colored. It offers a more expressive nose and riper, sweeter fruit on the palate. The wine has excellent balance and length. Drink it over the next 5-7 years."

90 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Feb 1, 2007

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El Vínculo Reserva (2001) - "Dark ruby in color with an expressive perfume of cedar, vanilla, black cherry and cassis. On the palate the wine is opulent with appealing, layered flavors, sweet, well-integrated tannin, and excellent balance. Drink it over the next 6-8 years. "

90 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Feb 1, 2007

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2003) - "Made from 100% Tempranillo as are all Alejandro Fernandez's wines, is dark ruby-colored. It exhibits aromas of cedar, tobacco, damp earth, red currants and blackberry. Firm on the palate, the wine has ample ripe fruit in a chunky style. The finish is slightly compact."

87 Points
Jay Miller, Wine Advocate, Feb 1, 2007

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2003) - "Ruby-red. Ripe cherry and blackberry aromas, with a good dose of toasty, vanillin oak. Rich and weighty, showing a distinctly ripe character and strong, almost sweet oak tones atop flavors of cherry and dark berry liqueur. Finishes on a note of bitter chocolate. This needs to be paired with rich, fatty food."

87 Points
Josh Raynolds, International Wine Cellar, Oct 1, 2006

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2002) - "Big and powerful warm-country wine with a gutsy nose of crushed ripe berries and violets plus flavors of strawberry compote, licorice, dark chocolate, coffee, and new oak. [Drink with] roast chicken with potatoes, roast meats, pasta, or pizza."

Gold Star, drink now
Gerry Dawes, Santé, Annual Buying Guide, 2006, Oct 1, 2005

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2002) - "This dark-colored wine is brimming with dark flavors - earth, mineral, plum, coffee - that mingle effortlessly in a racy texture. The fine tannins and smoky oak are well-integrated, and the wine dances to a long, smoky finish."

89 Points
Thomas Matthews, Wine Spectator, Aug 31, 2005

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2001) - "Black and robust, this speaks of the heat of La Mancha, playing off big black cherry fruit against enough acidity to hold it firm and fresh. The tannins clamp down at the end right now, so give it a year in the bottle or an hour or two in a decanter. "

89 Points
Ray Isle, Wine and Spirits, Dec 1, 2004

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2001) - "This is so delicious with dark berry and herb flavors that it's hard to believe El Vinculo make a Reserva, too. "

*** - Excellent
Jamal A. Rayyis, Food & Wine Magazine’s Wine Guide 2005, Oct 1, 2004

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2002) - "Red-ruby. Aromas of chocolate, cherry and cocoa powder; showed a rather advanced note of nutskin as it opened in the glass. Suave and perfumed in the mouth, with slightly dry-edged raspberry, cocoa and nutty oak flavors. Finishes with fine tannins that reach the front teeth, with the note of nutskin carrying through on the end."


Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Oct 1, 2004

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El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2001) - "Red-ruby. Red fruit, gunflint and cocoa powder aromas. Juicy and penetrating, with nicely defined flavors of raspberry, minerals and smoke. Finishes long and firmly tannic, with the structure to last well in bottle."

91 Points
Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Oct 1, 2004

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El Vínculo Reserva (2001) - "Red-ruby, a bit deeper than the regular bottling. Complex nose melds black raspberry, dried flowers, smoke, graphite and gunflint. Broader and more voluminous than the basic bottling, with sweeter flavors of raspberry, pepper and earth. Finishes with sweet, toothdusting tannins and sneaky length. "

92 Points
Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, Oct 1, 2004

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El Vínculo Reserva (2000) - "Boasts a dense ruby/purple color followed by a big, sweet nose of American oak (coconut and vanilla) interwoven with black cherry and cassis fruit. A sexy, opulently-textured, medium bodied offering with adequate acidity as well as sweet, well-integrated tannin, it is a delicious Spanish red to drink now and over the next 7-8 years. "

90 Points
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, Apr 26, 2004

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Click on a wine name below to learn more about the vintage:

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2009)

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2006)

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2005)

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2004)

El Vínculo Tinto Crianza (2003)

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