Monday I spent much of the day writing two articles on the medals awarded by the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. The first was on the feat of Swiss wines in winning 172 medals. The second article was for the June issue of Society Marbella in Spain where I write a monthly wine column. One of the gold medal winners from Spain I cited was Protos Ribera del Duero Roble 2017. I sent it off and went to the local supermarket in southern Spain, where I’ve just spent a few days, and to my surprise I found the wine sitting out in a bin with others in this price range: around €8.
Some wines with medals really are better. In this case, definitely. Ribera del Duero, like Rioja, has a tradition of making big reds, oaked for years – the gran reservas, reservas and even crianzas (oaked for one year, then one year in bottles). The region has responded to a new market of younger, urban drinkers whose eating habits have changed – lighter, quicker meals and wine shared with friends over tapas – by creating robles.
Roble wines are lighter and fresher, but they don’t always bring out the best in the Tempranillo grape, called Tinto Fino or Tinto País in this region. The 2017 Protos version is a very good example of what this wine can and should be. The fruit is present in the nose and mouth, it is very smooth and there is the palest hint of vanilla from six months in new American oak before it rests for six months in bottles.
Robles are aged just long enough to take off the rough edges of Tempranillo’s fierce tannins. Ribera del Duero is a high, dry region with cool nights and harsh winters; this particular wine has a mountain freshness that will be appreciated by Swiss consumers.
To compare, we had another Ribera del Duero 2017 roble, virtually the same price, another night. A good nose but not as harmonious, with the mouth rougher and not quite matching the nose.
Protos, created in 1927, some 60 years before the wine region of Ribero was given its name, makes a large range of good quality wines, with roble as the entry level red. The winery has as much surface area planted in vines as canton Valais. I visited the winery a couple of years ago with fellow journalists and was impressed by the wines I tasted and the overall approach to consumers. The cellar in Peñafiel Castle in the Castilla y León region is a good stop for tourists – you visit their two wineries and do a tasting.
You can find the wine in Switzerland online for CHF12.90 at Flaschenpost and the 2014 vintage at LeShop for CHF14.90. Note that it is easier in Switzerland to find Protos Crianza, about CHF20 and Reserva, CHF33. At the top end, Protos Gran Reserva is about CHF60.