«In order for a wine to be perfect, it must provide a moment of happiness.» – Marilena Bonilla Blásquez
Tradition meets high-tech
The year is 1927. Eleven daring winemakers meet at Peñafiel Castle in Spain to start a winery. They’re convinced that by joining forces, they can produce high-quality wines in what is considered an «inhospitable» region. They call their bodega «Ribera Duero.» None of these founding fathers could have imagined that in just three generations, Ribera Duero would become one of the most important wine regions in all of Spain. As for the name of the winery itself, the founders settled on the Greek word for «first:» «protos.» A reference to the history of the winery, as well as a bold statement for the future. No one embodies this claim better than Marilena Bonilla Blázquez, the head winemaker at the traditional bodega. The inquisitive Spaniard, who discovered the joys of wine while getting her doctorate in microbiology – which subsequently led her to pursue a second degree in oenology – has launched numerous research projects since arriving at Bodegas Protos in 2005. Among other things, she studies the effects of climate change on wine – a topic that poses major challenges for the wine industry. Marilena explains: «Warmer temperatures can cause grapes to ripen earlier, which affects the balance and quality of the wine.» This can lead to excessive alcohol content, or an undesirable «sweaty horse blanket» smell. The winemaker therefore tests new cultivation methods with her team and performs analyses in a high-tech laboratory at the winery. This pioneering spirit has allowed Bodegas Protos to continually evolve and remain one of the very best wine producers in the country, thereby ensuring we enjoy elegant, intense, and aromatically complex wines from the Ribera del Duero region well into the future. Just like in 1927, but without the sweaty horse blanket!
Wine Enthusiast: 93 points, Tim Atkin: 93 points, James Suckling: 92 points