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!
The Happiness Seeker
«What makes for a «good» wine? Its biochemical composition? Or the region in which its grapes grow? Are winemakers solely responsible for creating «good» wines? Or is a «good» wine simply one that is drunk in the right place at the right time? According to the chief winemaker at the renowned «Bodegas Protos» winery in Spain, there’s no one right answer to this question. However, one thing is clear: its pair of Ribera del Duero wines are some of the best we have tasted from this exceptional region!»
Decanter: 95 points, Guía Peñín: 92 points, James Suckling: 91 points, Wine Enthusiast: 90 points
Quality comes first
The chief winemaker at Bodegas Protos splits her time between the office, the laboratory, the winery, and the vineyard. Marilena Bonilla Blázquez supervises 1,600 hectares of vines, the work of sixteen professionals, and the production of thirteen wines. She organizes the work of the teams, and controls the quality of the wines and (depending on the season) the ripening process of the grapes. «To make good wine, you need good organizational skills – and lots of passion,» declares Marilena. The enthusiastic winemaker also stresses that outstanding teamwork is the key to her success, especially when it comes to communication: «If you want to improve employee engagement, you have to be clear and communicate goals effectively, all the while listening to (and validating) your team’s ideas and perspectives.» At Bodegas Protos, everyone shares the same goal and vision: namely, the quest for the perfect wine. To achieve this goal, Marilena is not only guided by sales figures and her refined sense of taste, but also the feedback of customers: «Every time someone expresses their enthusiasm for our winery and our wines, I know that all the hard work and effort that goes into each bottle has been worth it.» The best possible recognition for her wines is that people have a good time while drinking them.
Decanter: 95 points, Guía Peñín: 92 points, James Suckling: 91 points, Wine Enthusiast: 90 points
«The Italian red wine of the year!»
In seventh heaven with Dievole
Every once in a while, we lose our way...only to find it again in Colline del Chianti, and more specifically in the Classico region of the wine paradise that is Tuscany. A winegrowing tradition dating back to antiquity, a pleasantly warm climate, excellent soils and exposures...grapes have absolutely no trouble growing there, in particular the local variety (and true prima donna) Sangiovese. However, the pressing of these fruity, velvety, sought-after Chianti grapes is another story. For some time, we were enamored with those from the vineyards of Dievole. But as the years passed, this love began to fade. All too often, the winery near the small town of Vagliali was unable to recapture the quality of its former vintages. Under new management, the tide is now starting to turn: the team, led by star winemaker Alberto Antonini, is literally bursting with youthful enthusiasm and passion. Modern designs have replaced the kitschy gold labels, premium oak barrels and concrete tanks have been set up in the cellar, and new plots of land have been added to the sustainable vineyard. In particular, the Petrignano site stands out among the hundred hectares registered in the Chianti Classico register. Nestled in the bend of a river, the vines literally bathe in the reflections of the sun, feasting on the fertile, limestone soil abounding with nutrients and minerals. What about the wine? It marks a change of course for the «fattoria» – towards former greatness! So far, the reviews have been sparkling. Wine Enthusiast and James Suckling gave it a top score, while Gambero Rosso awarded the contemporary Chianti its medal for the Italian red wine of the year. Of course, this distinction only lasts for 12 months. That way, your love is sure not to fade!
Gambero Rosso 2023: Tre bicchieri, Wine Enthusiast: 91 points, James Suckling: 90 points
Luã – a hymn to a relaxed way of life
You wanted to quickly return a tool to your neighbor, but find yourself hanging out on the patio with your partner for another two hours over a glass a wine and a spontaneous barbecue. A waste of time? Or the stuff of a good life? It is said that the hours you don’t count are the hours that count the most. But who hasn’t given in to that inner voice, who is constantly encouraging us to check things off our to-do list and be more efficient? In modern everyday life, simply letting time pass by without a specific goal or purpose is almost synonymous with a lack of willpower. Philosopher and time expert Karlheinz Geissler – who incidentally never wore a watch – summed it up like this: «When you linger, you don't lose time...you live it!» Most people only experience this while on vacation: they stroll through a city aimlessly, without any real destination; they let themselves drift, stopping to listen to a street musician; they spontaneously sit down in a café and talk to the person next to them about the world and religion, forgetting about time completely. Life is much more relaxing (and interesting) when you stop for a minute instead of always rushing. Our Luã wines convey this attitude perfectly: they are light and balanced, with a subtly sweet finish. Just like the best things in life! In addition, these wines are true all-rounders, making them perfect with all kinds of foods. So, the next time you get an opportunity to linger, now you have the perspective (and wines!) to resist the temptation to tell yourself you don’t have any time. Enjoy!
«Another Brick in the Mira-Wall»
Rock ‘n’ Rosé at Château Miraval
The fluffy bassline, the drums, the funky lick in D minor... Once the choir starts to sing «We don’t need no education...,» there’s no more mistaking it: it’s «The Wall» from Pink Floyd! The legendary group’s rock opera is the epitome of the wild seventies, of extravagant stage props – and of a vineyard 70 kilometers northeast of Marseille, where the British band recorded its musical monument. As vineyards around Château Miraval draw magnificent curves in the landscape and chirping bearded reedlings contribute to the idyllic ambiance of Provence, the screeching sounds of guitars can be heard from the studio on the grounds. In addition to Pink Floyd, many other big names have recorded songs there, including AC/DC, The Cure, and (ahem) The Kelly Family. The climate of the south of France is not only conducive to rock ‘n’ roll and grapevines, but also stars from Hollywood. About ten years ago, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought the picturesque château. The renowned Perrin family was put in charge of the winemaking. This mix of glamor and tradition was a huge success: Miraval’s signature blend cemented the revival of rosé. The studio, however, lay idle. Until now. Brad Pitt – now alone at the helms of the castle since his divorce – is apparently looking to revive the rock ‘n’ roll sanctuary, just before his 60th birthday. With the help of French producer Damien Quintard, he had the music temple completely renovated: the new luxury mixing console uses analog and digital technology to capture the full, brute force of sound. Because of its curvaceous design, the new studio is nicknamed «the spaceship.» To mark the occasion, Miraval has launched its own «spaceship,» a brand-new cuvée called «The Studio.» Will it become the next must-have rosé?
«Greetings from Heitersheim»
The Zotz family rocks the wine world
One morning in June of last year, our Category Manager Theresa Zotz walked into the Flaschenpost office for the first time. We were immediately enchanted by the winemaker’s daughter from Heitersheim, without any of her family’s wines as secret weapons, which she only brought in recently. But when we did finally taste them, all we could say was «wow!» For us, it was clear: our customers urgently needed to be introduced to this fresh, premium, white wine. But wait a minute...wine from Germany? It might be right next door, but its wines have quite a difficult time in Switzerland. After all, we’re also bordered by Italy and France. However, there has been a shift in recent years, in part due to climate change – but not only. A whole new generation of courageous and open-minded winemakers are starting a winemaking revolution in Germany. These young winemakers are networking, exchanging ideas, and organizing joint events. A community has emerged, one that promotes more fun and development – two characteristics that are reflected in the country’s new wines. Since 2010, German wine exports have almost doubled. «The younger generation is cosmopolitan and networked, and has succeeded in breaking down prejudices,» explains winemaker Julian Zotz, who runs the family winery with his cousin. The Zotz siblings are a perfect example: Theresa spent six months in India after graduating from high school, then studied in Indonesia and worked in Chicago. At Flaschenpost, she keeps an eye out for trendy wines for our customers, and stays abreast of developments in the wine world. Her brother completed an internship in New Zealand, then returned home to the family and its business. Today, he helps make premium contemporary wines at the winery, which was founded in 1865. With «Grau.Weiẞ.Gut,» the Zotz family takes you on a trip to today’s Germany. Don’t be surprised if you feel like dancing the day away...