lunes, 7 de enero de 2013

Bodegas Roda ( Haro - La Rioja)


Roda will fit in what some wine experts refers to as “Modern Rioja", from a organoleptic point of view this wines are more clean and minimalistic than the traditional Rioja wines, because the cellar practices at Roda fall within the framework of Rioja winemaking innovation.

Bodegas Roda takes pride in its refusal to follow the (legal) practice of refreshing wines with up to 15 per cent of wines from other vintages. We are to assume, then, that every drop in every bottle belongs to the vintage stated on the label. Santolaya defends this concept as a radical commitment to their no-compromise model, which aspires to bottle and bring to the consumer the liquid expression of the very precise nuances and spirit of the landscape, terroir, and climate of northern Rioja Alta, exactly the way they are every vintage.

On the other hand they also have a complicity with tradition, because Roda has respected and followed conventional and traditional terminology, releasing its Roda I and Roda II (the latter recently rebaptized simply as Roda) as Reserva wines. Equally, the company chose for its headquarters a neighbourhood that is emblematic of Rioja classicism: the Barrio de la Estación in Haro. And finally, the subterranean wine cellars, ending in a balcony-like edge over the River Ebro, could not be more typical of historical Rioja practices.


The owners of Roda are Barcelona-based Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella, whose surnames provided the winery moniker. Now divorced, they were married when they launched the winery in the late 1980s. They have always trusted the growing winemaking team led by Santolaya, which also includes Isidro Palacios, Carlos Diez, and Esperanza Tomás (in charge respectively of viticulture, oenology, and research).

The history tells us that at the end of the 1980s new things were afoot in the Spanish wine growing sector. A new generation of wine people was arriving on the scene in different wine regions. At this particular moment, Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella came to La Rioja, with the passionate commitment to create a project that would bring something new to the wine world.

In the Rioja, where there seemed to be nothing left to achieve, in Haro’s world famous century-old Barrio de la Estacion district, on a terrace jutting into one of the bends in the Ebro river, the beginning of this whole adventure was to take place.


The first months were made up of making contacts and performing trials; and in 1991 the philosophy of the winery was established:

- The formation of a high-powered technical team was the best short term means of becoming leading experts among Rioja’s wineries.
- In the vineyards the only use the indigenous red grape varieties, Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano.
- Total respect for the concept of the vintage, wines from other years are never added to homogenise or freshen up a vintage.
- Only wines made at their winery are bottled, they never buy-in wine from other cellars.
- Wines that bring out the very essence of their terroir, the vineyard, soil, climate, landscape, wines made to be enjoyed.
- There is no hurry to get a return on investment. The constant aim is, with time, to be recognised as producers of one of the greatest wines in the world.
- Twenty or so carefully supervised blocks of vines, spread out among the best eco-systems of the area, from which the 17 best are vinified each year.
- Old vines are used, guaranteeing the best quality Tempranillo and Grenache grapes.
- An evaluation system for bought-in grapes was introduced that had never existed before.
- Harvesting is done in small crates and the first sorting table in the Rioja was introduced here.
- The vinification takes place in temperature controlled oak vats.
- Ageing is in 100% French oak barrels.
- They committed to research and development, which enables them to head international projects through our active R&D department.


For Roda the vineyard is the heart of their wines. Its exhaustive knowledge, the interpretation of its needs and its meticulous treatment mean an inescapable obligation. They use old vines that provide extraordinary qualities to the grapes, and three local varieties: tempranillo, graciano and garnacha. The harvest is manual, respectful and expert. The grape, its qualities and hints which keep the mystery of each vineyard, each climate, each environment, each vintage… The challenge is getting to transmit all this in their wines. They were convinced that their peculiar location and weather north of Rioja would give very different results in different vintages, according to whether the predominant influence each year were Atlantic, continental, or even Mediterranean.

They use very old vines, as they consider that the balanced yields that they succeed in producing cannot be bettered, since the greater depth of their roots and the larger volume of soil explored by them reduce the effects of both drought and excessive rainfall. They also have the ability to bring greater complexity and black fruit nuances to the grapes and in turn to the wine.

Their mission, from the very beginning was to control a respectable vineyard area planted to old-vine Tempranillo, Graciano, and Garnacha at different altitude levels, between 380m (1,250ft) and 650m (2.130ft), and with different soil compositions (sand, chalk limestone, and gravelly terraces). These old vines had been traditionally trained, with three irregular branches.

The classic Rioja bush vine is made up of three irregular main branches growing directly from the soil and reaching up to 1 metre in height. When a branch breaks, through old age or because it is unstable, it is replaced by a new shoot from the trunk.

It colonises perfectly the space around the vine in its three dimensions and enables the bunches to be extraordinarily well ventilated and spread out from each other. They consider that this is the best growing technique for this area.

Local and native grape varieties:
- Tempranillo: has the potential to produce, on its own, wines of the highest rank in our area. It combines power and elegance and has an enormous range of aromas and flavours.
- Graciano: is difficult to grow, has a very low pH, produces wines of deep colour with purple glints, fresh, spicy aromas, and blends very well with Tempranillo.
- Garnacha: They grow garnacha in the southernmost area of the Rioja in gravel soils at the highest altitudes, and they use it to blend with the other varieties.

Initially they also flirted with the idea of following a chateau model: a single-estate wine produced in adjoining facilities. But they soon discarded this idea and adopted a more flexible and modular approach one might even call it “liquid", to borrow from Zygmunt Bauman´s definition of postmodernity.

Sustainable viticulture and respect for the natural environment is also an obsession in their vine-growing. Grass usually grows freely from the month of October until April and the vineyard borders are maintained with indigenous flora throughout the whole year to enable beneficial insects to complete their life cycle.

Fertilising is kept down to a minimum, most of which comes in the form of manure. Fungal sprays are essentially in the form of sulphur and copper, avoiding where possible synthetic chemical products.

In the vineyard the most complex operations and one which requires the greatest effort is choosing which vineyard will go into Roda and on which day the picking should begin.

Between the beginning of the ripening process and the end of the picking, more and more visits are made to each vineyard until these reach a frequency of three times a week. Detailed observations as to each symptom, textures, colours, the taste of the berries and their pips, together with the continual support of our laboratory, enable’s them to gain an approximate idea of the optimum time of ripeness.

A team of 40 harvesters, who return year after year, pick the grapes by hand, carefully placing them in 18kg crates from vines which have been judged to be at perfect readiness on that particular day.

With rare exceptions, all the vineyards, whether they are their own or not, are harvested by their own pickers so as to have perfect control over the time of the picking and the selection of the bunches on the vines.

It is often the case that two separate pickings, even three, are carried out to ensure that the grapes that are brought in are perfectly ripe.

The crates are brought to the bodega on pallets on trailers or in trucks, and once they are emptied, are meticulously washed before being sent to the next vineyard.

The average yield per hectare is no more than 5,000 kg or 34 hectolitres.

Each grape, during its ripening, should capture, down to the last detail, the landscape in which it is grown, the heat of September, the cool nights of October, the transparency of the beginning of autumn, the shortening days, the north winds as the nights pull in, the fragrance of the herbs in surrounding fields, the sensations in the soil where the grapes grow, the darkness of the subsoil in which the roots penetrate. The tiniest hints mingle to make each vintage different, and their aim consists in knowing how to interpret these and how to bring them out through the wine.


Bodegas Roda is placed beside the Ebro River, in a balcony of the Station District of Haro, on a centenary cellar. The installations were designed to measure: seventeen French oak vats (as many as selected vineyards per season), a bioclimatic room resulted of a completely new commitment for the innovation and two buildings of ageing which were dug directly in the rock, the result is two Reservas: Roda, silky, festive, fresh and Roda I, deep, complex and voluminous.

Although the founding of Roda goes back to 1987, the building of the bodega only began in 1991 and was finished in 2001, being completed in three separate phases. The first part was carried out by the architect Roses, and the last, most emblematic phase was directed by the architects of Llimona Ruiz-Recorder.

A vineyard on a terrace jutting out like the bows of a ship from the Haro Barrio de la Estacion to the river Ebro was transformed into the current winery location. Here, an underground cellar, reaching down 12 metres below the surface, was once used in the 19th century, when local wine growers stored their vintages there before shipping them by rail to Bordeaux to alleviate the crisis caused by the phylloxera epidemic.


The choice grapes then undergo a double selection process, first in the vineyard and later in the cellar. Fruit from each of the 17 plots is destemmed and fermented separately in 17 large wooden vats of 12,000-20,000 litres (3,200-5,300 US gallons), which are replaced every ten years. Winemaking is divided into three steps: cold maceration, fermentation, and late maceration (up to about 20 days). Those 17 wines from the 17 vineyards are then transferred directly to 225-litre French oak barrels (50 per cent new and 50 per cent one year old), distributed around a dazzling state-of-the-art malolactic cellar where strict conditions of 20°C (68°F) and 75 per cent humidity are maintained with the use of temperature-regulated floors. After December, once malo is completed, the heating is turned off and north-facing windows are opened, so that the wines are naturally stabilized at 6°C (43’F) by the winter cold.

A key moment in this process is naturally the decision, after sampling all the different barrels, of which wines will go into the cuvee Roda (sold until 2001 as Roda II) and which into the more expensive Roda I. Here the criterion is focus on the age of the vines and between red and black fruit aromas of the wines, so the more youthful fresh-cherry profile goes to Roda, whereas the more profound and mineral, plummy /cocoa nose is destined for Roda I.

- At Roda there is no hopper; the bunches are taken up in polypropylene buckets on a conveyor belt, without the slightest risk of damage, to the upper floor where a process using the force of gravity at every stage is begun.
- A sorting table with six people completes the bunch selection process that is initially carried out in the vines, enabling only perfectly, healthy, ripe grapes to go into the de-stemmer.
- The vat cellar at Roda is rectangular and contains 17 French oak vats, each one being replaced after serving ten years.
- All the vats have individual pumping-over equipment, temperature control sensors and a cooling and heating system, and punching down of the cap is carried out manually.
- The vat capacities range from 120 hectolitres to 200 hectolitres.
- The grapes of each of the 17 different vineyards are vinified separately in different vats.
- The norm is to avoid using selected yeasts for the fermentation process and instead to allow the natural indigenous yeasts present in the skin to carry out the process.
- Each vineyard demands its own particular vinification. However, generally speaking, the process is made up of three phases: cold pre-fermentation maceration, fermentation, and post fermentation maceration.
- The vatting period usually lasts a total of 18 to 20 days. This is another crucial aspect of the wine-making process. In order to determine the right moment to run the new wine off the skins, daily laboratory analyses are made for each vat, and a team of four people taste each of the wines being vinified on a daily basis.
- The new wines are run off directly into barrels, and the skins are pressed in vertical presses.
- From the first trials performed on the malo-lactic fermentation in their wines, they saw that the method that suited the style of wines they were seeking was the malo-lactic fermentation in 225 litre oak barrels.
- The strict demands of the lactic bacteria in terms of temperature conditions led them to the launching of an R & D project to develop a new concept for a bioclimatic cellar in which they could carry out the malo-lactic fermentation and the natural stabilisation of 1,200 barrels at the same time. The project, entitled Eureka, was a resounding success and, as a result, the first air-conditioned malo-lactic cellar was built using underfloor heating and cooling.
- The wines are run off directly into French oak barrels, 50% of which are new and 50% second fill barrels, and in which the 17 different eco-systems remain separate.
- The temperature reaches 20°C in the wine, and the humidity is maintained at around 75%. During this process, the barrels are kept closed with a glass bung and are topped up every day.
- The malo-lactic fermentation finishes during the month of December. At this time, the underfloor heating switches off, and the process of natural stabilisation begins.
- The room is equipped with a large north-facing windowed wall, which can be opened to let in the cold winds of the months of December, January and February. With this natural system, temperatures of around 6°C are reached, favouring the precipitation of the remainder of the yeasts, bacteria and other particles in suspension in the wine.
- Thistle Room, barrels next to a big sculpture of forge which represents the three flowers of the thistle that form our emblem. Once the natural stabilisation has finished, the wines are ranked, and barriques from the same plots are blended, although the 17 vineyards are still kept separate.

They have have three ageing cellars in Roda; two of them are underground cut into the rock, which they call “La nave del cardo” (the thistle cellar), honouring a great forged iron sculpture displaying the three flowers of the thistle and which is their emblem, and “El calado”, a one-time tunnel dating back to the 19th century which comes out at a depth of 12 metres to a terrace overlooking the Ebro river. The third cellar is the same one they use for the malo-lactic fermentation. They call this the “T cellar”, and for the ageing process they operate the underfloor cooling system, keeping the temperature of the wine at 15°C.

The three cellars have the same overall function; however, each one offers different climatic conditions that suit the different types of wine.

The ageing time in barrel varies depending on each plot; however the usual time is between 12 and 16 months.

When the 17 different wines have spent one year in barrel, it is time to blend the plots which have characteristics of “Roda” and then the plots which have the “Roda I” character.

- For Roda the wines are red berry fruit, with aromas that are always to the fore, ready for immediate enjoyment, with sweet spice notes and delicious freshness. On the palate, the red berry fruit should come through with a refreshing mouthfeel, length, silky texture and continuous volume. Great wines, to enjoy with fine food.

- For Roda I the wines are black fruit, with great depth of aroma which comes through slowly on tasting; they display great class on the nose, with mineral, chocolate and black plum notes. On the palate, they must be fruity, full, complex, enveloping the mouth and long, with soft, well integrated tannins and a refreshing mouthfeel. Great wines, to enjoy with fine food, but also to appreciate and discuss with fellow enthusiasts.

The process of selecting the two wines is complex work carried out in a team, requiring numerous tastings and great mutual understanding.

There are crops from vineyards which one year will form part of the Roda I blend and in the following year will go into Roda, and which in some years may not even be brought in to the winery. Everything depends on the vagaries of the year’s weather and its effect on each eco-system.

Both Roda I and Roda are released on to the market as reservas and therefore have to spend a total of three years ageing in barrel and bottle. If the ageing in barrel is between 12 and 16 months, it will be aged in bottle for a minimum of 20 to 24 months.
Their aim is for both wines to arrive on the market ready to drink but with enough ageing potential for them to improve in bottle for many years.


Engaging aromas. The predominant aromas come from the vineyard: red berry fruit or black fruit but they are always present. Oak, in the background, almost imperceptible. Sweet spices and mineral notes, bringing complexity. Balsamic touches, giving freshness. The palate is where their great class shows through. Full, ample, with definition. Savoury, fresh fruit flavour, long. With sweet, softly integrated tannins.

A sensation of volume and freshness. Wines that incite you to have another sip. Absolute respect for the vintage: down to the last drop of wine in each bottle, the vintage is exactly what is indicated on the label. Roda is committed to offering the best possible wine that the climatic vintage has been capable of creating in their vineyards. The complex system of different vineyard plots enables them to offer excellent wines every time. Wines that give pleasure, wines that transmit sensations.

RODA II 2001

Technical data:
- Grape varieties: 94% Tempranillo, 4% Garnacha, 2% Graciano
- Vineyard: Bush vines over 30 years old, yields limited to 1,5 kgs. per vine.
- Grape harvest: From the 19th of September to the 24th of October.
- Fermentation: In French oak vats, with controlled temperature.
- Ageing: In 50% brand new barrels 50% second use French oak barrels.
- Stabilization: Completely natural methods, clarification using only egg whites.
- Alcohol: 14,5% Vol.
- Harvest: Excellent harvest, perfect ripeness. 473 mm. of precipitations in the vine-growing year. A rainy winter. A dry and warm spring. Shatter of the flower, not too compact bunches. A summer with enough humidity. An excellent autumn.
- Tasting: In the blending of Roda, the wines are from plots of red berry fruit characters, with aromas that are to the fore, ready for immediate enjoyment, with sweet spice notes and delicious freshness. On the palate, the red berry fruit should come through, with a refreshing mouthfeel, length, silky texture and continuous volume. They are excellent wines for gastronomic meals, very versatile, go well with fish, roast meat or a complex casserole dish.
- Price: £16

RODA 2007

Technical data:
- Grape varieties: 89% Tempranillo, 8% Garnacha, 3% Graciano
- Vineyard: Bush vines over 30 years old, yields limited to 1,5 kgs. per vine.
- Grape harvest: From the 25th of September to the 21st of October.
- Fermentation: In French oak vats, with controlled temperature.
- Ageing: In 50% brand new and 50% second use French oak barrels. 16 months in barrel and 20 months cellaring in bottle.
- Bottling: March 2009
- Stabilization: Completely natural methods, clarification using only egg whites.
- Alcohol: 14% Vol.
- Packaging: Cardboard cases of 6 bottles.
- Formats: Bottles of 50 cl., 75 cl., 1,5 l., 3 l. and 6 l.
- Bottles produced: 166.800 bottles.
- Tasting: Colour: Deep burgundy red background with bright red hues in the rim.
Nose: Very intense, red cherry aromas of great complexity mingling with a noble wood bouquet, subtly spicy, all in great balance. After airing the wine in the glass for a few minutes, the red fruit takes over, enfolding all else but showing a hint of cocoa in an elegant, refined manner. Palate: Medium to full bodied, enveloping silky smooth texture, ripe red cherry fruit with hints of sweet spices, very fine, fresh tannins, giving way to a fresh, fruity finish of great length. A complex, elegant wine with great balance between the ripeness and freshness of the fruit and the subtlety of the oak management. A wine with no troughs, showing well the characteristics of the 2007 vintage and it is fresh, Atlantic influence.
- Harvest: The year of the mildew. 627 mm. of precipitations. 384 mm. were collected during the spring and only 5 mm. during July, August and September. A widespread attack of mildew in all the region during the spring and at the beginning of the summer the harvest decreased. Extraordinary ripening with a dry and sunny weather. A late harvest very limited production and very good quality.
- Price: £18.00

RODA I 2006

Roda I is the blend from those plots which in that year have produced grapes of black, ripe fruit characters. The deep, dark, black fruit is almost always dominated by plum aromas together with mineral and chocolate notes, balsamic flavours, all of which form a whole which flows slowly from the very bottom of the glass, developing hugely as it reaches the expectant nose of the taster.

Technical data:
- Grape varieties: 100% Tempranillo
- Vineyard: Bush vines over 30 years old, yields limited to 1,5 kgs per vine
- Grape harvest: From 12th September to 9th October
- Fermentation: In French oak vats, with controlled temperature.
- Ageing: In 50% brand new and 50% second use, French oak barrels. 16 months in barrels and 20 months cellaring in bottle.
- Bottling: April 2008
- Stabilization: Completely natural methods, clarification using only egg whites
- Alcohol: 14% Vol
- Packaging: Wooden cases of 6 bottles.
- Formats: Bottles of 50 cl, 75 cl, 1,5 l, 3 l and 6 l
- Bottles produced: 156.000 bottles
- Tasting: Colour: Intense, deep, black cherry red background with bright red cherry red hues in the rim. Nose: Great balance between the oak and the fruit, in particular black plums, with some dark chocolate and sweet spices on a background of stark minerality showing through, providing a very elegant and complex bouquet.
Taste: Medium bodied but showing great lenght. Mouth filling without weighing you down. The ripe black plum fruit shines together with some cocoa and dark chocolate blending perfectly with the sweet tannins from the oak. A very elegant, pleasing wine to the palate, less powerful than the 2005 release, but beautifully balanced, silky smooth, arousing an inviting moreish feeling that makes it a great food companion even at this early stage, thanks to its well rounded tannins and its freshness, providing a long, satisfying finish.
- Harvest: 587 mm. of precipitations of which 204 mm. were collected the previous autumn. Good bud break. The beginning of the summer was stormy. There was an abundant vegetative mass. A very dry and fresh August. High temperatures in September.
- Price: £29


Cirsion (written without an accent on the "o" but often pronounced as if it were written "Cirsión") is a concept wine, sourced from a most exacting selection of vines in the search for silkiness and early polymerization of grape tannins straight from the plant. It expressed itself as a massive but elegant wine that (behind a still-closed nose) released an explosion of sensorial stimuli on the palate, powerful, still fruit-driven, serious, well structured, touched by subtle cedar notes, tobacco, and spice.

Technical Data:
- Grape variety: 100% Tempranillo.
- Vineyard: Selected bunches from different plots. Applied methods from own research and development on polymerisation of tannins and anthocyanins.
- Fermentation: In French oak vats, with controlled temperature.
- Ageing: In 100% brand new French oak barrels.
- Stabilization: Completely natural methods, clarification with egg whites.
- Alcohol: 14.5 % Vol.
- Packaging: Cardboard cases of 3 bottles. Single bottles in wooden cases.
- Available formats: 75 cl, 1.5 l., 3 l and 6 l. bottles.
- Bottles produced: 8.350 bottles.
- Tasting: Colour: Extremely deep, dark, almost ink black background with a red hue on the rim. Nose: Very intense, with many layers of a myriad of fine aromas. Very rich, deep, dark berry bouquet of great complexity. Hints of damp earthiness, chocolate and sweet spices of great  fressness, intertwining to make a whole enveloping sensation of great balance difficult to describe. Taste: Mouth filling sensation of very rich, concentrated dark berry fruit with chocolate and mint, showing great fresness and very elegant tannnis that add to the sense of lightness and silky smoothness, giving way to a very long, satisfying finish. Amazing balance between the power of the fruit, the firmness and roundness of the tannish and the smoothness of the incredibly lingering finish, creating an incredible, whole tasting experience. Cirsion is, undoubtedly, one of the very best wines we have ever made.
- Price: £114


A wine with strength, young, with many things to tell but with the fresh voice of the youth. From sustainable vineyards. Ready to consume when it leaves the market with a shorter ageing that its older brothers and with a good capacity to keep. Very pleasant to drink, easy to blend it with food and especially delicious and fresh. Designed to drink more frequently, in circumstances in which neither Roda and Roda I could reach, even attractive to young people who begin to live the passion for the wine world. Framed in the range of the fresh fruits of tempranillo of the area of Haro, good bodied, ageing in semi French oak barrels of first quality and with the distinct hallmark of the elegance and finesse of tannins of Roda. A different wine with the experience of Roda.

Technical Data:
- Grape varieties: 89% Tempranillo, 11% Graciano
- Vineyard: Sustainable viticulture in bush vines between 15 to 30 years of age.
- Fermentation: Both alcoholic and malolactic fermentation processes carried out in large French oak vats.
- Maceration time: 19 days in contact with the skins.
- Ageing: 12 months in 100% semi-new French oak barrels.
- Stabilization: Completely natural methods.
- Alcohol: 14% Vol.
- Packaging: Cardboard cases of 6 bottles.
- Formats: Bottles of 75 cl.
- Bottles produced: 89.800 uds.
- Tasting: Colour: Deep, red background with bluish hues throughout. Nose: Very expressive red fruit bouquet, especially ripe red cherry, with a nutty edge reminiscent of almonds and broken cherry bones. Medium bodied, with scant presence of the oak adding to the feeling of lightness and freshness it provides. Taste: Silky smooth, medium bodied, very fresh, well textured with no thoughts. The oak is hardly evident, with round, well integrated tannins, giving way to a lingering finish of seasoned red fruits that make it light and fresh. It showcases perfectly the quality of the 2009 vintage, in this case adding youth and freshness to the depth and ripeness of the seasoned fruit so prevalent in this vintage.
- Price: £12

Bodegas Roda
Area under vine: 150ha (370 acres)
Average production: 300,000 bottles Avenida Vizcaya 5, Barrio de la Estación,
26200 Haro, La Rioja Tel: +34 941 303 001 Fax: +34 941 312 703

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