August 27, 2009
In a land filled with castles dating back to the middle ages, Spain’s fortress of Peñafiel is clearly one of the most remarkable. Fortified in 1307, it stands atop a narrow outcropping and was declared a National Monument in 1917. Shaped like a ship, it’s crenellated walls are 700 feet long and stand guard over the Duero River valley.
In 1927, a group of eleven wine growers formed a co-op in Peñafiel named Ribera Duero. From the beginning, the vision was to produce high quality wines without the use of chemicals or irrigation from low yielding old vines. The 1929 World Exposition in Barcelona awarded Gold Medals to Ribera Duero’s wines, beginning a long history of prestige and recognition. In the 1980’s the winery agreed to rename themselves Bodegas Protos, and allowed the new denomination of origin to take the name Ribera del Duero.
But back to the castle. In June, we visited Protos’ amazing cellars which are carved into the hillside right underneath the fortress of Peñafiel. No air conditioning is needed here, with consistent temperatures year-round. Today, 270 wine grower/owners make up Bodegas Protos. The wines are so highly sought after that the entire production is allocated, even though four million bottles per year are made. The grapes are hand harvested and sorted so that only whole healthy grapes go into the fermentation tanks. French and American oak barrels are used for up to 3 years maximum and grapes are still harvested from low yielding old vines, without the use of chemicals or irrigation. But success has its price. Bodegas Protos has outgrown its romantic and natural cellars and was in the process of moving into a new state of the art winery across the street when we were there. However, their commitment to quality and maintaining the highest standards remain unchanged.
NEW PRODUCTS *** BACK IN STOCK ***
Ybarra brand Anchovy Stuffed Olives in 350 gram cans!
Turkish Mulberries – in Istanbul, they are served for breakfast on yogurt.
Lebanese Alcohol free beer
Green Sultana raisins
Mulberry syrup – Great for making cocktails
Arrope (grape must reduction), try ours made of Palomino and Moscatel grapes.
Mitica Sweet Tortas de Aceite Artesana These sweet crispy thin flat bread breads from Seville are made with olive oil and sugared. They are the perfect accompaniment with your morning coffee, afternoon tea or evening desert. $4.19 each
Castelvetrano Olives are back in stock! These vibrant green olives are buttery, fleshy and mildly crisp with just the right amount of salt and no bitterness. 7.99/lb.
Roncal comes from the rich alpine sheep’s milk of the legendary Lacha and Aragonesa ewes. These herds graze in the high Pyrenees near Navarra. Made from raw milk and ripened slowly over the course of several months, this rustic and semi-soft cheese has a wonderful nutty and olive flavor with a moist smooth texture. $22.99/lb $5.75/quarter lb.
THE WINES OF BODEGAS PROTOS
2008 Protos Rosé, Ribera del Duero ($9.99) Made of 100% Tempranillo which is cold macerated for 16 hours to preserve the expressive red fruit aromas. Strawberry, raspberry and cherry flavors are perfectly balanced with crisp acidity in this delicious dry rosé.
2008 Protos Verdejo, Rueda ($10.99) Fresh aromas of grapefruit are complimented by lush citrus notes. Protos Verdejo has vibrant acidity with notes of green apple and a persistent finish. Absolutely refreshing!
2006 Protos Roble, Ribera del Duero ($14.99) Protos Roble is produced from 100% Tempranillo and aged 5 months in new American oak. Initial blueberry notes deepen to black fruit flavors, with an edge of licorice and fine minerality. Great with paella!
2005 Protos Crianza, Ribera del Duero ($31.00) 2005 was a stellar year in Ribera del Duero and produced wines of intense concentration. Protos Crianza has oak aromas combined with enticing ripe black fruit. Seductive and full bodied, its balanced berry toast flavors move seamlessly into a long, smooth finish.
SPANISH WINE DINNER
Join us at Taberna del Alabardero for a selected tasting of Jorge Ordonez wines, on Wednesday Sept. 2nd, 6 p.m. Special attendance by Sara Floyd, M.S. who will talk about the five wines, each paired with a separate course. $75.00 (tax and service charge not included). For reservations and information: 206.448.8884, for more details, click this link:
Have a wonderful week!
Sharon Baden and Steve Winston, Owners