The history of the Ribera del Duero dates back to the eleventh century, to the time of the Cistercian Order, where a vast wine kingdom that finds its roots in the Middle ages and whose mark hides the essence of the people, their villages and the Peñafiel Castle, one of the most important strengths of the region. At the feet of the Castle you will find the Protos winery, which was one of the first wineries, along with Vega Sicilia, to produce and sell bottled wines in the Ribera del Duero.
Bodegas Protos was founded back in 1927 as a cooperative between half a dozen winegrowers in the region of Peñafiel under the name of ‘Sindicato Agrícola Bodega Cooperativa La Primera en la Ribera’. The winery was a pioneer for bottling and selling its wines, winning at the 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona Gold Medals for its 1927 and 1928 vintage red wines.
However despite its successes, its major breakthrough came in 1990, when their red Peñafiel Reserva 1985 took the higest prize at a competition organised by the “International Wine Challenge Magazine”. It was then that the once cooperative gave way to a new corporate business and the Bodegas Protos was fully integrated into the business dynamism to face the new challenges imposed by the wines of the Ribera del Duero.
Protos, Greek for "first", is proud and privileged to have found maturity and rest in the largest and first of the wineries in the area, maintaining its reputation over time. Over the years remain the same partners, but the structure and business organization is changed and the winery adapts to changing times.
In 1995 the aging cellar expands to 8,500 barrels, and some ships to botelleros of 5,000 square meters, adding to these figures the total and absolute quality control computer, set representing X-ray of a giant in the wine scene international, and fundamental key to its success. Protos currently has about 600 hectares of vineyards, with an additional 500 hectares, supplied by highly selected among wine growers in the area have become regular suppliers.
The New Wineries.
The project continues growing: In the town of Anguix (Burgos), Protos has acquired a winery that has the latest cutting-edge technology. It can produce up to three million kilos of grapes, of which 2 million kilos go through the sorting table. Nearby, the winery constructed their new Peñafiel Castle winery, a masterpiece, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and Alonso Balaguer y Arquitectos Asociados. It has an area 19,450 m2, a production capacity of 1,000 tons of grapes, a storage capacity of 3.5 million bottles bottles, and a storage capacity of 5,000 barrels
The new Protos winery facility is located quite near the old winery facilities, connected to them via an underground link, and buried into the Peñafiel Castle hill. The new facility is located at an interesting historical crossroads: the extension of the Camino de las Eras and the San Pedro sheep drove road, an ancient Roman road. It is on the edge of a low-lying area that, in the past, was partially covered by a small pond fed by waters from the nearby Botijas stream.
The project was conceived as a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional wine cellar construction in the region. On the one hand, the base of the building is excavated into the land, reminiscent of wine cellar construction methods that have been used since time immemorial in the Peñafiel Castle hillside, making the best use of the lower temperatures underground, most of the facilities used in the preparation and aging of wine are buried underground. On the other hand, the aboveground structure, technically known as the “light structure”, is a reinterpretation of vault-shaped winery construction methods. This structure is made of parabolic arches of laminated wood. The roof is perhaps the most noteworthy visual feature of the outside of the winery. This is the result of the exceptional location of the winery at the foot of the Peñafiel Castle. In the project concept, the roof was considered as yet another façade, to be viewed from the privileged position afforded by the Castle.Therefore, it was designed with these five vaulted bays oriented towards the Castle. In the treatment of the roof materials and construction, using large format terracotta pieces, it represents a contemporary reinterpretation of typical vernacular roofs.
There are two separate planes on the base: the cellar level, which is completely underground, and the production level, partially buried up to a height of 4.5m, at which point an upper surface area is defined, accessible at street level through the main entrance. On the outside, the base has perimeter walls and stone cladding, to reinforce the idea of a volume anchored to the ground.
The winery’s facilities’ structure is made of reinforced concrete, with a construction layout that fosters heat transfer with the ground, reducing the impact of sunlight and extreme climate conditions throughout the seasonal and night/day cycles. The roof shelters the glass façade surfaces from direct sunlight, which are set back in a 9-meter structural module on the south side, 18 meters on the east and protected by latticework on the west. In turn, the outside of the vaulted roof is protected by a layer of large format hollow-section terracotta tiles floating above the wall plate of the laminated wood boards. This layer of terracotta tiles absorbs direct sunlight and heat which is spread through a ventilation system to the interior cavities of the piece and the air chamber. Thus any possible loss of heat absorbed by the building structure is minimized. The paving on the exterior surfaces of the production level is based on the same principle.
The heating and cooling systems manage to reduce energy consumption by means of a special energy management system and through the use of water from the subsoil – the remains of the ancient pond – as an integral part of the cooling system.
Protos is therefore home to two wineries in the heart of the Ribera del Duero: Peñafiel (Valladolid) and Anguix (Burgos) where their reds are produced and aged. Protos is also home to a third winery in the D.O. Rueda in La Seca (Valladolid), where they produce their Protos Verdejo under the D.O. Rueda label.
From a technical point of view, Bodegas Protos takes complete control over their vineyards, which span across 1,400 hectares across the Ribera del Duero. The vast span of vineyards is spread over numerous plots, fragmented by the geography of the Ribera del Duero, with an average size of 1 hectare. The majority of the vineyards are planted on hillsides facing south, allowing longer exposure to the sun for optimal ripening.
The vineyards are also home to a range of highly diverse soil types along the Duero River, but in general, the area features loose, not very fertile soils that have limited organic matter, and in which limestone is sometimes a predominant element. In most cases they have a loamy or sandy loam texture.
The vineyards range in elevation from those located on plateaus, at elevations of up to 900 metres, to those located in valleys, where the topography ranges from 750 to 800 metres. 60% of the vines are grown on trellises, while the other 40% grow on goblet trained vines. Work at the vineyard is constant, from the pruning, the desnietado, picking off excess leaves, crop thinning, as well as a comprehensive sanitary control, monitoring for possible pests and diseases affecting the vines until harvest. The winery has we have specific programs and maps to be able to locate all the plots and ensure traceability from the vine to the bottled wine.
The winery performs a careful selection in the vineyard, based on age, estate, analysis, and so on, during the ripening process. All the plots are analysed, allowing the winery to assign the different fermentation tanks, achieving uniform quality. On the other hand, all the harvesting at Bodegas Protos is performed manually, using 20 kg crates for old vine grapes. Once the grapes are received at the winery, they are sorted on the Sorting Tables. This sorting is done first cluster by cluster and then grape by grape, thus ensuring the utmost quality in this process.
Wines at the Bodegas Protos.
The range of wines by Bodegas Protos are a traditional line of wines from the Ribera del Duero, all made with Tempranillo. Their wines include,
Protos Rosado, from vineyards that are over 25 years old, with aromas of fresh fruit (strawberries and cherries), citrus, white flowers and scrubland; very fresh, fruity, fleshy, with good acidity, balanced and long finish.
Protos Roble. This wine is aged for 6 months in oak barrels where is characteristic roughness is refined, releasing its intense ripe red fruit flavour, juicy on the palate, rich with tannins but well protected by the fruit.
Protos Crianza. This wine is aged for 14 months in oak barrels (33% new French oak, 33% first year French and American oak, 34% second year French and American oak). It is a classic wine, adapted to modern times, with a good balance between ripe fruit, tannic structure, and wood.
Protos Reserva. 18 months in French (2/3) and American (1/3) oak, this wine is very present on the nose, with spicey aromas with ripe fruits. The wine also has a round palate, with a solid structure, where fruit, wood and tannin combine harmoniously, promoting an exceptionally long and tasty finish.
Protos Gran Reserva. The grapes for this wine come from vines that are over 60 years old. The wine is aged for 24 months in French (80%) and American (20%) oak. It is a very expressive red, powerful, complex, elegant, with hints of roasted coffee, black chocolate, candied fruit, meaty and spicey, with a long and silky finish.
Sporadically the winery produces Protos Private Series, with vines over 50 years and aged 18 months in French oak barrels, but its top of the range wine is the Protos Selection "Finca el Rook Viejo", a red payment with vines over 70 years old, which is only produced in exceptional vintages, and its production is around 9,000 bottles. It is a wine fermented in French oak barrels of 500 liters and continues aged for 18 months in new French oak. The nose is a powerful wine, with ripe black fruit, violets, roasted, toffee, black chocolate, vanilla with a palate of intense flavor, red and black berries, wood, vanilla, black pepper, with good acidity, good structure, and very long finish.