In the province of Burgos in northern Spain, a winery sits nestled in the heart of the Ribera del Duero wine region — rugged and sparsely populated, known for its extreme continental climate: cold, woolen winters juxtaposed with a growing season comprised of hot, dry, and sunshine-infused days that surprise with chilly nights — perfect for ramping up the acidity of its award-winning wines.
The winery? Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza.
The Continued Legacy of Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza
Established in 1987, the winery is steeped in tradition inspired by the estates of Bordeaux, France but has also forged its own path of winemaking excellence. The micro-climate and terroir produce rich, elegant, complex, and expressive red wines that coax out the best that Tempranillo grapes have to offer.
The winery’s legacy traces back to the late Alejandro Fernández and his wife Esperanza Rivera who, in 1972, purchased a small winery equipped with a 16th-century stone wine press. They started planting Tempranillo in Ribera del Duero and reaped their inaugural harvest in 1975. The first wine sold, Tinto Pesquera, was a loving nod to their hometown of Pesquera de Duero.
Success followed, both at the winery and for the region of Ribera del Duero: In 1982, the Denomination of Origin (DO) was bestowed. This marker indicated that the region meets rigorous standards and denotes a higher status of winemaking. The wines of Pesquera became so renowned that critics described them as the “Petrus of Spain” and Fernández was referred to as the “King of Tempranillo.”
Today, 18 miles east of Pesquera, three daughters of Alejandro and Esperanza direct the future of this winemaking legacy: Lucia, Mari Cruz, and Olga. Since 2018, they’ve been involved throughout, from viticulture and winemaking to export. In their capable hands, Fernández and Rivera’s heritage lives on.
Honoring the Land
Fernández’s love for the region and winemaking legacy continues to this day. Condado de Haza employs sustainable farming practices with a special emphasis on preserving regional biodiversity. It’s quite literally nestled into the land, with aging rooms and tunnels carved deep underground in a hillside of the property, providing ideal aging conditions with natural insulation and temperature control.
It’s where their wines, made from Spain’s ubiquitous “Tinta del Pais” or Tempranillo grape, rest as they age in more than 3,000 oak barrels, developing complex flavors and aromas thanks to the wonderful climate and terroir available, but also due to the country’s utilization of American oak. The barrels impart flavors of vanilla, coconut, and sweet spices. The winery’s use of French oak provides a bit of a different profile for Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza consumers — more subtle since it’s less porous than its American counterpart.
What Sets Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza Tempranillo Apart
If you like balanced, elegant, complex wines bursting with aromas and flavors of black and red fruit, 100 percent Tempranillo wines from Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza should be high on your wish list. In the industry, it’s commonly said that grapes need to struggle to produce the most flavorful and delicious wines, an adage rooted in winemaking experience and terroir.
When grapes are subjected to stress, they focus their energy on producing and ripening fewer grapes that are more concentrated with intense flavors and aromas. Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza offers plenty in terms of struggle as it sits at an elevation of about 2,700 feet, has stony soils, and diurnal shifts — an extreme combination of hot days and cool nights. This daily swing in temperature allows for a longer, slower growing season, which also aids in producing more complex wines.
In addition, the Duero River stretches about 550 miles from its source in Northern Spain across the border to Portugal, providing a cooling effect that moderates the vineyards gathered for miles around its banks, helping to preserve the grapes’ acidity.
The resulting wines are delicious.
The 2018 Condado de Haza 20 Aldeas is a blend of 100 percent Tempranillo grapes sourced from the coldest part of the estate, resulting in slower ripening and impactful flavor. This wine is truly a labor of love and a testament to the nose, palate, and patient expertise of the winemaker. It’s aged for 14 months in French oak barrels before bottling. This wine was praised by critic James Suckling and given a 95-point score for “its soundness and the quality of the organically grown grapes” and “the concentration showing the characters of blackberries, blueberries, and black walnuts.” It’s a wonderfully balanced wine with aromas of black fruits, licorice, toasty vanilla, and coffee notes, with a long finish. And it’s age-worthy if you’d like to put it down for a few years and save it for a special occasion.
The 2019 Condado de Haza Crianza, a blend of 100 percent Tempranillo grapes sourced from the winery’s vineyards, was given 93 points by the aforementioned wine critic and boasts intense aromatics of red and black berries, as well as a bit more intense toasty vanilla spice provided by 15 months in American oak barrels. On the palate, it’s balanced nicely with blackberries and oak. Throwing a dinner party soon? Pair roasted lamb or a suckling pig with this wine for a juicy contrast to roasted meat.
Both of these wines represent what’s great about the producer’s and region’s winemaking. They’re ready to sip today all by themselves, or pair them with some aged cheese like Manchego (if you want to nibble), or some grilled lamb chops, roasted beef, roasted vegetables, or a hearty stew. It’s also the perfect accompaniment for date night at a local BYO.
If you’re looking for a Gran Reserva, the Alenza is a masterpiece crafted solely from the best Tempranillo grapes, aged for a minimum of 24 months in oak and an additional 36 months in the bottle. It’s got complexity and depth, boasting a deep, ruby-red color with aromas of blackcurrant, plum, tobacco, and a subtle hint of leather. On the palate, it is full-bodied and opulent, with flavors of dark fruit, chocolate, and coffee. The tannins are firm yet silky, and the finish is long. This wine is perfect for a notable anniversary or an elevated party.
No matter which 100 percent Tempranillo wine you choose to enjoy, rest assured that you’re receiving the very best with Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza. It’s a world-class winery with beautifully crafted wines that have the ability to transport you to the heart of the Ribera del Duero and the soul of Spain.
This article is sponsored by Familia Fernández Rivera’s Condado de Haza.