La Mancha, in the very heart of Spain, is a vast arid expanse on a plateau known as La Meseta. In wine terms it has always been best known for the vast quantities of basic and bulk wine produced, often for distillation into some of Spain's many brandies. One company is intent on changing that perception while still providing terrific value - Bodegas Centro Españolas.
Established in 1991 by 14 local businessmen form the town of Tomelloso, they were led by a biologist and winemaker called Miguel Angel Valentin who wanted to buck the low-end image of the area. The new business built a state-of-the-art winery, equipped it with temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks and a couple of thousand oak barrels and sourced fruit from 20 year-old vines in a region where low-yielding older vines are all too often grubbed up to make way for more productive youngsters.
The vineyards are to be found at an altitude of 850m above sea level which softens the effects of the heat during the day and where night-time temperatures can nosedive, aided by breezes generated in the Toledo Mountains close by. These cooler nights help retain acidity and sustain the development of aromatic characters in the grapes.
The name of the Finca Tempranal farm comes from the word temprano, which means early, and despite the altitude and the cool nights the tempranillo grapes, early ripeners among reds anyway, inevitably ripen sooner than they might elsewhere. Fermentation in stainless steel helps to retain the freshness of the fruit and then time in oak, 12 months for a crianza, rounds out the flavours.