Give wine Crianza. Winery: Protos. D.O. Ribera del Duero. (Castilla y León)
What is known today as Bodegas Protos was born back in 1927. It was founded by the cooperative association of half a dozen winegrowers in the region of Peñafiel. It was called Sindicato Agrícola Bodega Cooperativa La Primera en la Ribera, and it was one of the pioneers in bottling and marketing its wines. At the International Exhibition of Barcelona of 1929, the harvests of 1927 and 1928 received a Gold Medal.
However, despite its success, the real international accolade came in 1990, when the Peñafiel Reserva 1985 red obtained the highest award in the competition organised by the "Wine Magazine International Challenge".
It was then that the traditional cooperative form gave way to a new corporate mercantile organisation. Bodegas Protos was fully integrated into this business dynamism to aggressively face the new challenge imposed by the Ribera del Duero wines.
Protos, from the Greek "first", has the pride and privilege of having found maturity and stability in the largest and first of the wineries in the area, maintaining its fame over time. Over the years, the same partners remain, but the structure and the business organisation has changed, adapting the winery to the new times.
In 1995, the ageing cellar was extended to 8,500 barrels and 5,000 square meters of bottle warehouses, adding to these figures the full quality control performed by computerised systems. This whole set represents the X-ray of an international giant in the international winemaking scene and the essential key to its success.
Today, Protos has around 600 hectares of its own vineyards, along with 500 more hectares, highly selected by the winegrowers of the area who have become regular suppliers.
The new wineries
The project continues to grow, and Protos acquires, in the city of Anguix, in the heart of Ribera, a production winery equipped with state-of-the-art technology and capacity to produce more than two million kilos of grapes. In the meantime, in the surrounding of Castillo de Peñafiel, they start building the new winery, a masterpiece by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados. It has a surface area of 19,450 m2, a production capacity of 1,000 tonnes of grapes, and a storage capacity of 3,500,000 bottles and 5,000 barrels.
This new winery is located close to the old facilities of the winery, built into the hill of the castle, Castillo de Peñafiel, with which it connects through the underground.
It is located at an attractive intersection of ancient paths: the prolongation of Camino de las Eras, and the route of San Pedro, and old Roman road.
It is the boundary of a flat area that was once partially covered by a small lagoon formed by the waters of the nearby stream, Botijas. The project has been conceived as the contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional construction of wineries in the area.
On the one hand, the base of the building recovers the construction of wineries excavated in the land, such as those found since time immemorial under the hillside of the mountain of Castillo de Peñafiel, taking advantage of the lower temperatures provided by this style of underground construction.
On the other hand, construction above ground level, technically called "lightweight building envelope", reinterprets the construction of wineries in the form of vessels.
It is a structure of parabolic arches made of laminated wood. The most striking visual element of the winery from the outside is its roof, which was projected as another façade and which can be seen from the privileged position offered by the castle.
This is why the winery has been designed in the shape of five domed structures that face the castle, Castillo de Peñafiel. Also, the material and constructive treatment of the roof, using large terracotta pieces, reinterprets the roofs that prevail in the area in a more contemporary way.
At the base we can differentiate two planes: the winery level, completely buried, and the production level, half-buried to a height of 4.5 m. Above this point, there is an exterior surface area that can be accessed at a street level from the main entrance. The exterior appearance of the base is of boundary walls and exterior stone surfaces, reinforcing the idea of volume that is anchored to the ground.
It is a reinforced concrete structure, with a constructive configuration that enhances the thermal transmission with the terrain, reducing the impact of solar radiation and extreme climatic conditions through day and night, and also seasonal cycles.
The roof protects the façade glass panels from direct sunlight. These glass panels are joined in a 9-metre structure on the south-facing side, 18 m on the east-facing side, and are protected by a trellis on the west side.
At the same time, the domed roof is protected externally by a layer of large terracotta pieces, perforated in their section and floating with respect to the sill of the laminated timber framing. This layer of terracotta pieces absorbs direct solar radiation. The heat will be dispersed through the ventilation of the internal hollows of these pieces and the air chamber.
This will minimise the possible dissemination of this heat, accumulated by radiation, to the building structure. The pavement on the outer surfaces of the production level has the same purpose. The reduction of energy consumption by the air-conditioning systems is achieved through a special energy management system and by using underground water, the remains of the old lagoon as an integral part of the refrigeration systems.
So we can say that Protos has two wineries in the heart of Ribera del Duero: Peñafiel (Valladolid) and Anguix (Burgos) where their aged and crianza reds are made, while their other winery is located in the heart of the denomination of origin Rueda: La Seca (Valladolid), where the Protos Verdejo is produced and fermented in barrels, under the D.O. Rueda.
From the technical department of Bodegas Protos, they perform an exhaustive control of the vineyard, around 1,400 hectares spread throughout the entire territory of Ribera del Duero.
This high number of hectares is divided into a large number of plots with an average size of 1 hectare, quite fragmented by the geography of Ribera del Duero. Most of these vineyards are planted on slopes facing south, to get the most hours of sun and achieve optimum ripening.
They are also cultivated on a great diversity of soil types along the course of the river Duero. Generally loose, barely fertile soils predominate, poor in organic matter,sometimes with the presence of limestone, and in the majority of the cases, with a loam or sandy-loam texture.
The vineyards are located between the moorland (páramos), at a maximum of 900 metres of altitude, and the valleys, with a topographic height of 750 to 800 metres. Vines are cultivated in espalier (60%) and the rest in a vase shape.
The work at the vineyard is ongoing. From green pruning, removing lateral shoots or "desnietado", deleafing, blunting and thinning of grape bunches, to an exhaustive sanitary control, with follow-up on possible pests and diseases that affect the vineyard until the harvest. For this purpose, they have specific vineyard and cartography programmes to be able to locate all the plots and to be able to trace them from the vineyard to the bottle.
In addition, they perform a rigorous selection in the vineyard, considering age, farms, analysis, etc. during the ripening period. All the plots are analysed, and the different fermentation deposits are established, achieving even qualities. On the other hand, harvests at Bodegas Protos is entirely manual, using 20-kg boxes for grapes from old vines. Once the grapes are received in the winery, they are sorted on the selection table. First, bunch by bunch, and then, grape by grape, ensuring maximum quality throughout this process. In addition, and because of their concern for quality, Protos has developed a unique R&D&I programme, which studies the grapes and also the barrels that are bought from the different suppliers.
Wines from Bodega Protos
The range of wines from Bodega Protos suggests a basic and traditional line of wines from Ribera del Duero, all made with Tempranillo. This line begins with the young Protos Rosado, from vineyards that are over 25 years old, with aromas of fresh red fruits (strawberries, cherries), citrus, white flowers and lower mountain; very fresh, fruity, meaty, with good acidity, balanced and with a lingering finish.
It is followed by Protos Roble, aged for 6 months in oak barrels where its characteristic roughness is refined, and where the red fruit displays its intense ripe taste; juicy in the mouth, rich, with tannins that are accompanied by the fruit.
Protos Crianza, aged for 14 months, 33% in new French oak barrels, 33% in one-year-old French and American oak barrels, and 34% in two-year-old French and American oak barrels. It is a classically perfect wine, adapted to the present times, with a good balance between the fruit, the wood and the tannic structure, already ripe.
Protos Reserva, aged for 18 months in French (2/3) and American (1/3) oak.The character of this wine is already present on the nose, with spicy and ripe fruit aromas, accompanying a round palate with a solid structure, where fruit, wood and tannins are delivered in a balanced way, promoting an exceptionally long and tasty finish.
Protos Gran Reserva, born from vineyards that are over 60 years old, aged for 24 months in French oak (80%) and American oak (20%). It is an extremely expressive red, powerful, complex, elegant, roasted coffee, dark chocolate, caramelised fruit; meaty, spicy, with a long and silky finish.
From time to time they also produce theProtos Private Series, from vines that are over 50 years old and aged for 18 months in French oak barrels. However, its top-of-the-range wine is the Protos Selección “Finca el Grajo Viejo”, a cru red wine made from vines that are more than 70 years old, and which is only produced in exceptional harvests. Its production is of around 9,000 bottles. It is a wine that is fermented in 500-litre French barrels and continues to age for 18 months in new French oak. On the nose, it is a powerful wine with ripe black fruit, violets, toastings, toffee, black chocolate, vanilla, with a palate of intense flavour, red and black berries, wood, vanilla, black pepper, with good acidity, good structure, and a very long finish.
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