Isaac Fernandez Ribera del Duero (Reserva)

"This has excellent potential, but it is built for the cellar and will take at least a decade of bottle age to start to sing. It should age very long and gracefully. Impressive juice!" —
John Gilman – View from the Cellar
Ribera del Duero D.O.
100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), from vines 80+ years old planted in Gobelet
850 meters / Mainly and with a calcareous predominance, with a slight appearance of clays and some stone on the surface
Farming Methods
Practicing Organic
Hand harvested fruit starting first week of October
Grapes were destemmed and lightly crushed prior to fermentation with native microbes, 2 weeks of skin maceration
Aged for 30 months in New French oak barrels (Sylvain Reserve, Taransaud and François Freres).
Suggested Retail Price
Wine Name
Isaac Fernandez Ribera del Duero (Reserva) 2014
96 (WRO) 93 (VM) 93 (VfC)
Score Publication Review Copy
96 Wine Review Online I’ve already reviewed this wine, but here’s another take on it—just after tasting it again while showing it to 60+ tasters working “blind” in a Zoom-based class on Ribera del Duero. Although there’s never unanimity in that sort of setting, this was the top scoring wine of the night based on precise score-keeping by means of Zoom’s “poll” function. That’s very impressive in view of the fact that two of the wines carried price tags of $85, but even more impressive in light of the fact that this 2014 vintage is the first-ever release of this wine. In fairness, it benefitted from 4 years of additional bottle age by comparison to those two $85 wines from 2018, but bottle age doesn’t help every wine equally, so don’t make too much of that. My clear impression from both of my encounters with this wine is that is exemplary in its intricacy, with many interesting details in the different tones displayed by its fruit as well as its wood influence and its bottle bouquet. And yet, that’s not its most impressive attribute, which is the remarkable proportionality of all these sensory signals, which present themselves in near-perfect symmetry and in such a harmonious-seeming sequence that all the aroma, flavor, and finish impressions flow naturally and beautifully from one another. As an aside, I thought even more highly of the 2015 vintage when first tasting the two side-by-side, so this is undoubtedly a new star in the Spanish firmament.
Michael Franz – April 26, 2022
93 Vinous Media Opaque garnet. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes ripe red and dark berries, incense, candied flowers and vanilla, and hints of exotic spices and smoky minerals emerge with air. Sweet and energetic on the palate, offering intense black raspberry, cherry, rose pastille and spicecake flavors that put on weight with air, with no loss of vivacity. The spicy note drives an impressively long, juicy finish that features supple tannins and an echo of cherry preserves. Aged for 30 months in 90% French and 10% American oak barrels, all of them new. 2022 – 2032
Josh Raynolds - February 2021
93 View from the Cellar The 2014 Tinto “Reserva” from Isaac Fernández hails from the same parcel of organically-farmed, sixty year-old vines and was treated the same in the cellar as the 2015, other than the fact that it was raised entirely in French oak casks in this vintage. The 2014 also tips the scales at 14.5 percent octane, but is quite a bit more developed on the nose than the 2015 version, offering up a deep and complex bouquet of dark berries, chocolate, cigar ash, a gentle note of tempranillo spice, dark soil tones and nicely integrated new oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a lovely core of fruit, well-integrated tannins and a long, blossoming and very nicely balanced finish. Though there is still a bit of backend oak tannin here, they are less obtrusive today in comparison to the 2015, and with a steak, I would have no difficulty drinking the 2014 Reserva tonight. It really is a very well-made wine (though again, less new oak would make it even more impressive!). 2021-2045+.
John Gilman - Issue #92 March/April 2021
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Isaac Fernandez Ribera del Duero (Reserva) 2015
95 (WRO) 94 (VM) 94 (WE) 93 (OB) 92+ (VfC)
Score Publication Review Copy
95 Wine Review Online The 2015 vintage of this wine — released in the USA at the same time as its stablemate from 2014 — is beautiful even just to behold, with a deep ruby hue and such clarity that it almost seems to shimmer in one’s glass. More taut and firmly oaked at this stage than the 2014, it is nevertheless beautifully proportioned too, with very fresh acidity providing lift and linear drive to the concentrated fruit and bold but balanced oak. (Even the label and packaging are beautiful, if that matters to you.) It shows lots of tannin working along with the oak to firm and frame the wine’s fruit, but that fruit is so fresh and expressive that neither element gets the upper hand. Although this is best laid down for a good five years if you only have a bottle or two, it proved quite enjoyable with a grilled hanger steak after a tasting session, so don’t be afraid to try it now to see if you want to purchase more of it. Re-tasted the following day, the wine had not budged an inch, meaning that it had not softened much, but also that the freshness of fruit was utterly uncompromised.
Michael Franz - February 16, 2021
94 Vinous Media Saturated ruby. Black and blue fruit preserve, vanilla, potpourri and exotic spice qualities on the powerfully scented nose, joined by a hint of smokiness that builds in the glass. Sweet and penetrating on the palate, with a core minerality energizing intense boysenberry, blackberry, cherry cola and lavender pastille flavors. At once powerful and lithe, this wine finishes with excellent persistence, resonating florality and gently firming tannins. Raised in new French oak barrels for 24 months. 2023 – 2033
Josh Raynolds - February 2021
94 Wine Enthusiast Deep ruby in color, this wine has aromas of black currant and forest floor. Vigorous tannins play host to flavors of black cherry, raspberry, chocolate covered espresso bean and dried thyme and oregano. There is an underlying sense of bright fruit from first sip to finish.
Mike DeSimone - November, 2022
93 Sourced from 80 year old Tempranillo vines, this was aged for 24 months in new French oak (Sylvain) before bottling. Dusty soils combine with rich dark fruits and chocolate fudge on the nose. The palate shows good richness and wonderful length, with bright acidity and firm tannins holding everything in place. This has only just stated to hit its stride. Drink 2022-2035.
Owen Bargreen - July 20, 2022
92+ View from the Cellar The 2015 Ribera del Duero Tinto from Isaac Fernandez is produced from more than eighty year-old tempranillo vines that are grown in the el Pago de Las Tenerías vineyard that sits at eighty hundred and fifty meters of elevation. The wine undergoes its malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks, prior to racking into one hundred percent new French barrels for two years of elevage. The 2015 offers up a superb, young nose of plums, black cherries, cigar ash, a touch of lavender, fine soil tones and a well-done foundation of gently spicy new oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, youthful and very, very promising, with excellent mid-palate depth, ripe, well-integrated tannins and excellent focus and grip on the nascently complex and very classy finish. This has excellent potential, but it is built for the cellar and will take at least a decade of bottle age to start to sing. It should age very long and gracefully. Impressive juice! 2028-2055+.
Issue # 85 - January/February 2020
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Isaac Fernandez Ribera del Duero (Reserva) 2019
95 (WRO) 94 (VfC)
Score Publication Review Copy
95 Wine Review Online Isaac Fernández, Ribera del Duero Reserva (Castilla y León, Spain) 2019 ($65, Grapes of Spain / Aurelio Cabestrero): This is terrific Tempranillo crafted by one of Spain’s more talented winemakers. I was fortunate to spend a day tasting in multiple bodegas with Isaac Fernández, and though I’m glad to disclose that I have a friendship-in-the making with him, I’m ruthlessly objective by inclination and long experience. This wine’s gorgeous color and very concentrated pigmentation lets you know you’re in for an exciting ride even before you get your nose above your glass. What then hits home is beautifully balanced oak spice and expressive fruit notes recalling black cherries and dark berries. The tannins are abundant and there’s wood tannin atop the grape tannins, so this deserves a full decade of cellaring if you can manage that, but with decanting and food with some dietary fat, it is already utterly delicious. What I like most about this is its combination of very big flavor impact with an equally palpable sense of proportionality and class. Very experienced tasters learn that great wines taste great at every stage of their development, and this fits that description already, and will continue to do so for a very long time. This wine is not made in every vintage — only when conditions seem promising. I am damned glad it was made in this vintage.
Michael Franz Apr 16, 2024
94 View from the Cellar The 2019 Isaac Fernández Reserva is made entirely old vine Tempranillo, with the goblet- trained vines all more than eighty years of age. The soils in these higher altitude, organically- farmed vineyards are primarily limestone, with a light vein of clay running through them. The wine is fermented with native yeasts and aged fully two years in new French oak casks. The 2019 version comes in at 14.5 percent octane and offers up a very refined and complex bouquet of plums, black cherries, Cuban cigar wrapper, brown spices, chalky soil tones, a touch of bonfire and a very nicely done, discreet framing of smoky oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a beautiful core of fruit, lovely soil signature, fine-grained tannins and a very long, poised and seamlessly balanced finish. This is a great wine in the making, but it will demand a good decade of cellaring to let its chassis of tannin relax properly. 2034-2075+.
John Gilman; Issue 109, January – February 2024
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