When I tasted a Condado de Haza 2003 some time ago, “classic” was the first thought that came to me. I loved the notes of dill seeds, the leather, the concentration and mature complexity. Just the kind of lovely, classic tone I want to find in a glass of red from Ribera del Duero. It was a wine that spoke of its birthplace.
As it was some years since the previous encounter with Condado de Haza, or in fact Pesquera too, I got curious and wanted to update me on the producer. At the start of my wine loving era, back in the 1990s, I was introduced to Mr Fernández wines. And trained to recognise it as the classic style of Ribera.
Alejandro Fernández is, since his start in 1972, regarded to be one of the great Spanish innovators. A man with a precise idea of winemaking. Starting in the own vineyards. The right soil and microclimate. The grape is Tinto Fino, Ribera’s variant of Tempranillo. In the celler fermenting with only natural yeast. The main part of his wine range, maturing only in American oak.
So, this great innovator, the man who played a large part in the development of the modern wine style of Ribera, was for me the father of a classic wine.
Today it is an issue. For me, the modern trend would involve a lot of toasty French oak, a powerful body and sometimes an over-whelming fruitiness. Unfortunately, modern too often means that the birthplace of the wine is disguised.
How long is the time frame for forming an opinion of what is classic and what is modern? A generation, twenty or ten years? The new enthusiasts in wine, will they in ten year time think of our contemporary modern style as the classic? Just as I created my view in the 1990s.