Ro-Da is the contraction of the surnames of the two owners, Mario Rottlant and Carmen Daurella. Since 1987, they have sought to establish a unique expression of Rioja,
based on 17 different vineyards of old vines in poor soils (a mixture of sandstone and clay/limestone) all with long histories in quality Rioja wine growing. Roda’s main
vineyards are in the Estacion district near Haro.
Roda wines are essentially ‘vinos de viñas viejas’ (old vines wines), from vineyards 2/3 owned, and all entirely managed by Roda. In Roda’s case, old vines are determined as 35 years or more, though most are 50+. The greater depth of roots and the larger volume of soil encompassed by old vines reduces the influence of drought or excess rain, balances yield and stabilises character. Old vines set smaller, more concentrated berries with much lower
juice-skin ratios and more faithfully reflect the mineral nuances of soil through mature natural tannins and acid. Of late, Roda have introduced a new wine, ‘Sela’, which is not an old vines release . When the Roda project was set up, extensive vineyard plantings were undertaken. For many years, this material planted by Roda was sold off on the bulk grape market. Nowadays, these 20yo+ plantings, while not old vines, are mature and characterful enough to warrant a release, ‘Sela’.
All wines are from dry grown bush vines with three branches pruned ‘en vaso’. The vase-pruning form ventilates the plant and gives an excellent balance of light and shade for the fruit. Most of Roda’s plantings are Tempranillo, but depending on the year and the wine in question, some blending with Garnacha and or Graciano is undertake n. Mazuelo was used in earlier years. Roda’s viticulture is organic, with vineyard (design-and-management) plus biological controls taking care of pests. Yields average around 30 hl/ha. Each
vineyard is hand-picked several times over by Roda’s own picking team. To underscore their viticultural commitment, at 550m altitude near Cubillas they maintain the Enit research vineyard of some 582 distinct cultivars of Riojan vines! This vineyard-museum was planted in 2000 after 3 years’ fulltime work by a team of viticultors identifying all possible distinct cultivars of Rioj
an wine grapes.
Roda are obsessed with the close study of ripening, particularly phenolic ripeness, and over time this has evolved a truly unique house feel for textural tannins – not to mention a singular wine, Cirsion, entirely devoted to silky tannin expression. Their concern is to make plush, violet-velvet wines with rich fruit and full, soft tannins pushing to the margins of the fruit, but always contained within.
The wines of Roda are destined for the table, and explicitly stand against the stream of (for want of a better word) ‘Parkery’ fruit and artefact bombs. As GM of Roda, Agustin Santolaya remarks, such “wines are only good for making an impression at tastings ... their strength of flavour prevents enjoying more than one glass”. Agustin claims instead that R
oda’s wines “find that magic balance between volume and airiness, voluptuousness and freshness; wines for enjoying from the moment they appear on the market but which live through many decades”.