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Ribera del Duero is a wine region that can be a bit controversial among wine lovers. In recent years it has become a haven for extracted, unbalanced, and all too often overpriced wines. Luckily for... Read More
Ribera del Duero is a wine region that can be a bit controversial among wine lovers. In recent years it has become a haven for extracted, unbalanced, and all too often overpriced wines. Luckily for us, the man who many credit for first establishing the D.O. in 1982 is still hard at work making sensational wines. Each vintage continues to defy new trends and define the region, all at a good value compared to his neighbors. His name is Alejandro Fernandez and his winery is Pesquera. When he bought his dilapidated 16th century stone Bodega in 1972 without any formal winemaking education Alejandro had no idea that in 10 years it would be a defining property of the region and he would be the area’s biggest advocate. What he saw during the years leading up to his fateful purchase was potential in the parched land. What he had in his heart was a passion to restore the winemaking tradition of the place where he was born. His success then, and now, is due to the fact the he believed in his vision and stuck to it. His vineyards are planted on gravelly south-facing dried river banks which provide optimal drainage. Growing conditions here are the epitome of continental with extremely hot summers and brutally cold winters. Luckily the region is in the middle of a high plateau reaching elevations of 2,750 feet above sea level. At this altitude, the diurnal shift is quite drastic with the temperature sometimes dropping over 50oF at night. This contrast helps the grapes develop a deep, complex quality while maintaining freshness and acidity enabling them to be enjoyed now or laid down to age. But what sets Pesquera apart is what goes on in the cellar. Alejandro is not doing anything new or special. In fact just the opposite. Rather it’s his sticking to tradition that matters. He’s not blending in Cabernet or Malbec like some of the newer producers are in the area. Nor is he spending boatloads of cash on new technology. His wines continue to be made just as they were in the beginning: 100% Tinto Fino clone of Tempranillo, long macerations in open-top fermenters, spontaneous fermentation and a consistent oak regiment utilizing both French and American barrels. Tradition is something we admire and, if you do too, then a bottle made by the one-and-only Alejandro Fernandez should be in your cellar.