Alejandro Fernández, the pioneer of Ribera del Duero and responsible for creating Tinto Pesquera that’s lauded by wine critic Robert Parker as “Petrus of Spain”, has passed away at the age of 88 in Santander of Spain.
His passing leaves a void that is difficult to fill in the group of viticulturists of the community of Castile and León, he had unique winemaking know-how that is within the grasp of very few.
The story of Fernández, an icon and the driving force behind Ribera del Duero, begins in 1972, when he purchased a 16th century stone wine press with his wife, Esperanza Rivera, where they began to produce their first wines. In 1975, Familia Fernández Rivera reaped its first harvest. The wine that was sold was called Tinto Pesquera, a tribute to the affection that Alejandro and Esperanza had for their home town, Pesquera de Duero.
Thanks to the production of the family´s wines, talk began about the potential of Ribera del Duero, and in 1982 the Designation of Origin was created That same year, Familia Fernández Rivera produced the first Janus Pesquera, made with excellent vintages using grapes from Viña Alta, the highest vineyard of Tinto Pesquera. The wines of Bodega Pesquera became one of the most renowned and most valued in 1985, when the American wine critic Robert Parker, elevated Tinto Pesquera, specifically Janus, to the ranks of the best wines in the world, considering it the Petrus of Spain.
Alongside his wife and daughters, Alejandro continued to contribute to his winemaking legacy by founding wineries in different areas: Condado de Haza, also in Ribera del Duero; Dehesa La Granja in Zamora; and El Vínculo, the latter in the La Mancha area of Ciudad Real. In 2011, the group diversified and opened the Hotel AF Pesquera, located in Peñafiel.
In 2014, Fernández was awarded one of the Gold Medals of Merit in Labour for this work on the Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin, one of the last honours presented by the King Emeritus Juan Carlos I.
The Regulatory Council of the Ribera del Duero Designation of Origin highlighted his role as the driving force behind the quality brand and the fact that Fernández was the architect of the expansion of the designation of origin throughout the world. “His way of interpreting and loving Ribera del Duero was passed down to the next generations, he contributed to the growth and prestige of our DO. Admired by the critics and deeply respected by his peers, he leaves a huge impact”, said its president, Enrique Pascual, in a statement.
His wines today are sold to more than 70 wines, and is among the first Ribera del Durero wines to be sold in mainland China over 15 years ago.