Wine with Leslie Williams: Roda a mix of the old and new

By Leslie Williams

A mini profile this week of Roda, one of Rioja’s best new(ish) producers who have managed to shake up this most traditional of wine regions.

Roda is imported by Albert Baginski of Solera Wines who have an interesting boutique selection of good quality producers.

Roda was founded in 1987 by Mario Rotllant and Carmen Dauella, with the name Roda created by combining the first two letters of each surname. 

Their 1990s-built winery is in the historic Barrio de la Estación or ‘Station District’ of Haro but built on top of a large cellar dating from the 19th century. This mix of the old and new is typical of Roda.

Roda only uses bush vines. This is the most traditional growing method in the region but they also believe the quality of juice is finer, that bush vines protect grapes better in warm years and allow for greater aeration.

Most of the vines on their 120 hectares are a minimum of 30 years old, with the exception of some used for the entry level Sela brand.

Grapes are cold-macerated for three days before fermentation in old oak on indigenous yeasts, and where new oak is used it is a spice rather than a flavour; bringing out the individuality of each vintage is a strong focus.

Roda 1 (€59 at retail) is made from older vines in specific sites that produce darker plum and liquorice flavoured Tempranillo and sure enough this had gobs of dense black fruits, plum and damson flavours, textured (but yielding) tannins and lingering black raspberry fruit on the finish.

Roda’s Cirsion (€220) is their top wine produced in tiny quantities and made from specific older vines (45+ years) chosen for their ability to produce Tempranillo with more depth and intensity. The 2015 that I tasted had amazing purity and elegance despite its youth, dense fruits were balanced with acidity and freshness and there was lovely tension in the wine. Roda’s two more affordable wines Sela and Roda are given full notes below.

If you are looking for bargains this week the remaining recommendations are new Spanish wines from Dunnes Stores plus their excellent Chianti. 

If you get to Dunnes watch for the Rapaura Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for just €11.50 and their soft fruity Tautavel Reserve Languedoc at €11.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

La Fea Tinto, Cariñena, Spain — €8.50 

Stockist: Dunnes Stores Nationwide

Cariñena is near Zaragoza in Aragon and always a good source of good value drinkable wines. This is a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Syrah and is light and straightforwardly fruity and best served a little cooler. There is also a crisp fresh La Fea Blanca made from Viura and Chardonnay.

Paloma de Plata 2016, Alicante, Spain — €13 

Stockist: Dunnes Stores Nationwide 

Alicante is the home of one of my favourite red grapes Monastrell (aka: Mourvèdre or Mataro), a grape that performs best in warm regions such as here or famously in Bandol in Provence. This has ripe damson and cassis aromas, juicy ripe fruits on the palate and a lingering blackberry compote finish.

Paloma de Plata Albariño 2016, Rias Baixas, Spain — €12.50

 Stockist: Dunnes Stores Nationwide 

Finding drinkable Albariño under €15 is thankfully getting easier (check out the excellent Laurent Miquel Albariño also exclusive to Dunnes). This has soft white peach aromas and soft weighty pear and melon flavours perfect for a barbecue and would even work on its own.

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Campomaggio Chianti Classico DOCG 2013, Italy — €16.49

Stockists: Blackrock Cellar, Vintry, Sweeneys, D6 Wines, Lotts & Co.

From a 27ha estate in the heart of the Classico region this is a good example of what happens to the Sangiovese grape with a bit of age.

Ruby centre but with significant brick red edges, cedar and black cherry aromas, supple black and red fruits on the palate with classic Chianti

elegance, tautness and freshness. Textbook.

Roda Sela Rioja 2015, Rioja Alta, Spain — €27

Stockist: Dunnes Stores Simply Better

For a relatively young winery (1987) Roda has developed quite a reputation. This is their entry level from the youngest vineyards and is fermented in temperature controlled French oak vats and then further aged in barriques. Lovely freshness and bright juicy fruit aromas, supple but dense on the plate, complex and lingering.

Roda Reserva Rioja 2014, Rioja Alta, Spain — €39

Stockists: Vintry, Blackrock Cellar, Lilac Wines, Sweeneys, D6 Wines, Hole in the Wall, On the Grapevine Dalkey

From vines 30+ years old the focus here is on red fruits (on the next level Roda 1 it is dark fruits). Sixteen months in barrique beings out lots of vanilla and coconut aromas, dense dark fruits hit first but also more elegant red fruits on the middle palate and a hit of crunchy freshness on the finish.

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