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 our wines, we saw that the method that suited the style of wines we 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 us to the launching of an R&D project to develop a new concept for a bioclimatic cellar in which we 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.
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.
At Roda we have three ageing cellars; two of them are underground cut into the rock, which we call LA NAVE DEL CARDO (the thistle cellar), honouring a great forged iron sculpture displaying the three flowers of the thistle and which is our 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 we use for the malo-lactic fermentation. We call this the T cellar, and for the ageing process we 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.
Our 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.