Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bodegas RODA: The viticultural environment #DWCC13

So I got a little carried away on my last post and did not deliver on my promise to discuss the RODA vineyards. I will rectify that situation in this post.

After the episode with the divining rod, Augustín turned once again to a topic that he had touched on briefly during the overview that he had provided at the winery: the climate in Rioja and its impact on RODA wines. As shown in the graphic below, Rioja is influenced by three climatic streams which, "... play off each other unpredictably, causing a different vineyard to respond differently from one year to the next." According to Augustín, a key aspect of understanding Rioja is understanding these climatic effects and each ones relevant dominance from year to year.

Sources: Underlying map from wildnature.blogspot.com; data from
discussion with Augustin Santolaya of Bodegas RODA.

There is some discrepancy as to the number of hectares of vineyards currently controlled by RODA. During our visit, Augustín specifically said that the enterprise controlled 120 ha of vineyards, of which 70 ha was owned. The RODA website (roda.es/en/vineyards/eco-systems.html), on the other hand, states that 150 ha (370 acres) is controlled, with half being owned and the other half owned by wine growers with whom they have a variety of arrangements.

Regardless of size, these vineyards range over 28 separate ecosystems (each characterized by RODA-established altitude, soils, and climate-condition parameters) primarily sited in Rioja Alta but also encompassing portions of Rioja Baja. Vineyard altitudes range between 380 and 650 meters and are inclusive of sand, clay-limestone, clay, and gravel soils. According to Augustín, the soils in Rioja Alta are primarily limestone, clay, and sandstone while the old terraces formed by the river has a top layer of sand and a deep layer of argillaceous soil. Rioja Baja has sandy soils over a limestone pan. In the area that we visited, Augustín described that soil type as "thinly stratified soils derived from sandstone layers." Soils lower down the slope may have a different coloring but the derivation and characteristics are the same.

RODA grows Tempranillo, Graciano, and Garnacha varieties on old vines. Old vines are preferred because (roda.es):
  • They produce a balanced yield
  • Depth of roots and volume of soils covered render them less susceptible to the effects of drought or excessive rainfall
  • They result in greater complexity of fruit and the resulting wine.
In practice, only fruit from vines that are older than 30 years are selected for RODA wine. Fruit from vines that are between 15 and 30 years old are put into the wine called Sela while fruit from vines younger than 15 years old are sold off.

One of the winery's guiding philosophies is that its wines are created in the vineyards and, as a result, the utmost care is taken to ensure the production of high-quality grapes therein. The winery is a fervent believer in, and practitioner of, organic and sustainable viticultural practices. A summary of the Bodegas' viticultural practices is provided below.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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