Rioja has always had a special place in my wine firmament, and the newest star to emerge in it is Bodegas Roda.

In 1987, Mario Rotllant and Carmen Daurella founded Roda in Haro, a major wine city in Spain’s La Rioja province. This region is more mountainous than most Spanish vineyard areas and has three sections: Rioja Alta, Baja and Alavesa.

Roda didn’t follow the traditional model of opening a winery adjacent to a vineyard. Instead, it has 28 vineyards (owned or are under long-term contracts with growers) spread across 370 acres in Rioja Alta and Baja, and contain mature vines ranging from 30 to 100 years old, cultivated chemical free.

Roda designed its winery with 17 large French oak vats for fermenting the best grapes each year from 17 vineyards. It sells all the other grapes to other wineries. I can’t recall any other winery that decided to cultivate its vineyards with the intention of only selecting the best 60 percent of the harvest and selling the remainder, no matter the quality.

From this pick-of-the-litter philosophy, Roda makes two reserva wines, Roda and Roda I, eschewing the Rioja format of making four wines(jovan, crianza, reserva and gran reserva). It also makes one bottling without any classification, Cirsion.

In the last 18 months, I tasted Bodegas Roda wines twice in New York City with Agustin Santolaya, the former consultant and now winemaker and CEO of Roda. In September 2011, Santolaya presented Roda I Reserva from its first vintage in 1992 through 2005. Last month, at Manhattan’s new Manzanilla restaurant, he poured the newest wines: 2007 Roda and Roda I Reserva, as well as the 2004 and 2005 Roda I Reservas and some older vintages.

The 2007 Roda Reserva is 89 percent tempranillo, Rioja’s primary red grape, eight percent garnacha and three percent graciano. The wine is divided into equal parts for 16 months aging in new and one-year old French oak barrels, then blended and bottled for 20 months aging, meeting Rioja’s regulation of three years aging- one of which must be in barrel- for reserva wine.

The 2007 Roda Reserva’s black cherry color and aroma is mixed with a mild vanilla scent from the new oak barrels. An interplay of fruit and oak occurs in the mouth, and the mellow tannins and acidity bring the 2007 Roda Reserva to a pleasant finish. The 2006 Roda Reserva is 97 percent tempranillo, giving it a distinct blackberry character while sharing the 2007’s oak accent and texture. Both vintages were pleasant with Michelin star-awarded chef Garcia’s delicious short-rib tapa. The 2006 Roda Reserva retails for about $45 a bottle, and is distributed by the Allied Beverage Group in Carlstadt. The 2007 wine will be priced about the same.

The 2004 and 2005 Roda I Reservas are pure tempranillo. Using only tempranillo and selecting grapes with a greater black fruit profile and aging structure delineates Roda I Reserva from Roda Riserva.

Their blackberry and black plum aromas and flavors are evident along with cedar and vanilla scents from the French oak barrels. The 2004 and 2005 Roda I Reservas are velvety on the palate and very flavorful. Either would pair well with Chef Garcia’s modern and savory version of roasted suckling pig, or with your grilled pork chop.

Both wines retails for about $55 and are at Kobrand, Roda’s national importer.