I have received many requests over the last few days about information regarding charities that are providing assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey. While there are many worthy outlets, I have set up a donation page with Texas Children’s Hospital to help the families with extremely sick children whose homes have been severely damaged by the storm. 100% of the donations go directly to the families (full disclosure: my wife is the Director of the Palliative Care team at the hospital). LINK.
I have written about Rodney Strong a few times now and while it used to be a winery that I would often just ride on by, it now is a must stop on every trip to Healdsburg in Sonoma County. Why? Quite simply, I believe they produce some of the finest wines for the money in California. The winery recently sent me a smattering of current releases, several of which really stood out.
2016 Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc Charlotte’s Home Sonoma County: Retail $17. The majority of the fruit for this wine comes from Charlotte’s Home Vineyard, originally planted by Rodney Strong in 1971 and named after his wife. Great fruit, a bit of minerality and even a little funk (I love the funk). On the palate, this is bright and precise with plenty of verve. If there is a better Sauvignon Blanc in this price range, I have yet to find it. (Pro tip: I saw this at Costco for around $12—buy some before I go and get the rest). Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2015 Rodney Strong Chardonnay Estate Chalk Hill, Sonoma County: Retail $22. While most of the more highly lauded Chardonnays produced by Rodney Strong fall under the Davis Bynum label, this is likely the best value Chard in their portfolio. On the nose, classic lemon curd fruit with clear evidence (although far from ostentatious) of the barrel fermentation (97%) of the wine. On the palate, quite creamy (no doubt a result of the batonage, or stirring of the lees in barrel), but ample fruit and acidity. For $22? This is a steal, particularly if one does not fear a bit of wood in one’s wine. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2014 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $25. While most of the best Pinot is slotted for their Davis Bynum label, they also produce two Pinots for the Rodney Strong label this Russian River Valley and a Sonoma Coast ($30). Both, in my opinion, duke it out at well above their weight class, but are perhaps often overlooked by Pinot aficionados as they reach for the Bynum offerings. This wine? Tart cherry with a bit of clove with nice acidity and balance. For $25? It would be really tough to do better. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2013 Rodney Strong Vineyards Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley: Retail $30. OK, full disclosure: I love Rodney Strong, and I might love Dry Creek Valley even a tiny bit more. Does that make me biased? Perhaps, but we all have our biases, don’t we? Objectively, this has nice, tight, dark berry fruit (tons of cassis) on the nose with touches of tobacco and cedar. On the palate? While this is certainly “fruity” it is far from a “fruit bomb” as there is texture and depth, but remains restrained (particularly for the variety in this appellation). Yet another example of a well made wine that resists going over the top when so many others in the region do. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2013 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Alexander Valley: Retail $40. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Rodney Strong is a fairly large producer in Sonoma County and some of the wines that one sees on supermarket shelves are certainly made with the masses in mind (both in style and price). All it takes though, is to dig a smidgen further to find wines that might just “blow your mind.” This is one such wine: impressive fruit, a bit of forest floor, and harmony that might just cause you to question your role on this planet. Nor does the palate disappoint with waves of luscious fruit, a bit of palace intrigue, and a lingering palate render this wine. At forty bucks might not be an “every day” wine (I know it isn’t for me), but the scale of the production at Rodney Strong enables them to produce lovely wines like this at a fraction of what they could (or should) charge. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2013 Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage Alexander Valley: Retail $55. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, 4% Merlot. I have spent plenty of time at Rodney Strong and I have tasted this wine numerous times, and it never disappoints. Blackberry fruit, pine needles, and a bit of anise on the nose. Ample fruit on the palate, with dark berries reigning supreme. There is a bit of tannic dryness on the finish suggesting some age-ability (5 years easy), but this is so good right now, why wait? Outstanding. 91-93 Points.