Bodegas Roda is a relatively new addition to the Rioja landscape. Nestled in the Alta Rioja among many grand old Bodegas, Mario Rottlant and Carmen Daurella had a vision of creating a true alta expresión Rioja when they founded Roda in 1987.
The alta expresión movement began as many producers, both new and old, looked at the world wine market and realized that the traditional wines of Rioja were not the style of wine that was winning over media attention. Frankly, that is not surprising. It takes a brave soul to write about the last best thing, but it’s always easy to write about the next best thing.
Our Tasting Panel Tries RodaWatch Gregory Dal Piaz, Greg Tatar, and Brad Kane taste and debate the qualities of one of Roda's great wines: the 2004 Roda I Reserva. Then read about this dynamic estate and see how their 2003s compare with the 2004s: on Snooth.
The next best thing, almost by definition, are modern-style wines, though there is always the subsequent rediscovery of the traditional (for which there is much back slapping, but I digress). While many may lament that the alta expresión wines are more akin to vinos de concurso (wines to win competitions, ie, garner high scores), the fact remains that there is a rich market for these wines, though perhaps a bit less rich than last year or the year before.
While many producers moved into these alta expresión wines as an afterthought or side venture, Bodegas Roda was not only there from the start, but was formed with the sole intention of producing modern Rioja that capitalized on the character of the varieties indigenous to Rioja, as well as the traits that the unique soils of the Alta Rioja impart to those grapes.
With such an ambitious project, it only made sense to begin with a clean slate, so Rottlant and Daurella purchased 150 acres of raw land and began planning to produce Estate wines modeled after the grand Chateau of Bordeaux.
Somewhere along the way it occurred to Rottlant and Daurella, and Roda's managing director Agustin Santolaya, that with so many great old vineyards at their feet, it might be worth beginning with the great fruit that the well-situated old vines in both Rioja Alta and Rioja Bja could provide.
Over the course of several years great vineyards were identified, and contractual agreements were put in place, that ultimately put over 100 acres of great vineyards at Roda’s disposal. Every vineyard (there are 17) consists exclusively of bush-trained vines, cultivated without the use of chemicals, and over thirty years of age. The vines are planted at elevations that range between 1800 and 2100 feet above sea level, making them among the higher vineyards in Rioja, and among them they contain all the major soils to be found in Rioja.
Each of the vineyards are vinified separately in one of 17 French oak vats that range from 12k to 20k liters. Once vinified, the wines are transferred to new French barrique, where the malolactic fermentation is immediately induced. Once the malo is complete, the wines will remain in barrique for some 12 to 16 months.
Watch as I discuss the 2004 Roda 1 Reserva with Brad Kane and Greg Tatar