Back in the Spring, I received most of Rodney Strong’s current releases. In my first set of reviews for those wines, I lamented that it took me so long to visit the winery that has been a Healdsburg stalwart for around 50 years.
Well, I had another slew of wines to get to, but my summer travel schedule was suddenly upon me and I discovered that it is eminently harder to taste samples when you are on the road. Thus, here are the other wines that have been released by Rodney Strong this year.
2014 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Sonoma County: Retail $45. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The winemaking team tastes each barrel individually, before making the determination as to which barrels go into the reserve blend. Dark purple in the glass with ripe plum, blackberry, crème de cassis, and black pepper. Rich and fruity from the jump with blackberry and mocha prominent. The tannins are prominent, yet soft on the finish, which lingers for at least a minute. Yet another nice wine from Rick Sayre, Justin Seidenfeld, and Greg Morthole, particularly for the price. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Rodney Strong Malbec Reserve, Sonoma County: Retail $40. 100% Malbec. I would need to research it a bit, but my guess is that there is not a lot of 100% Malbec in the US, but I always embrace it when I see it. Inky dark in the glass, with a subtle nose of blackberry, cassis, and black pepper. On the palate, really great fruit, solid on the mid palate, and a fruity finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Rodney Strong Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Knights Valley: Retail $35. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Once selections have been made for the Reserve Series, the remaining estate wines are bottled separately. Dark and rich in color. Dark berry fruit (blackberry, cassis), with a side of vanilla ice cream, and black pepper. Good fruit, a bit of depth, and some earthy notes, this is for early consumption and likely a crowd pleaser. Very Good to Outstanding. 88-90 Points.
2015 Rodney Strong Rowen Red Wine: Retail $55. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Malbec, 17% Syrah, and 2% Viognier. Quite dark in the glass. So dark that I mistakenly thought that there had to be some Petite Sirah in the blend. A wine that when I tried it for the first time, I was not a huge fan. Now? After a couple of hours open, this really opened up. Still quite fruity (blackberry and boysenbery), and the lack of tannin suggests that this is for consumption in the short-term, but this is without a doubt another crowd pleaser. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2017 Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $25. True Rosé. Simple: this is one of the best rosés on the market with a beautiful pink with a slight orange tint. Sweet strawberry and cherry leap out of the glass and on the palate, simply delicious. Tart cherry, vanilla , and even rhubarb. Yup, one of the best Rosés you can buy. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2017 Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc, Charlotte’s Home: Retail $17. An interesting nose of pineapple, white acacia, and overripe mango. Quite un-Sauvignon like. Good fruit, nice acidity, but also round and luscious. One of my favorite un-Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blancs, if that makes any sense. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Davis Bynum Chardonnay, River West Vineyard, Russian River Valley: Retail $25. I have mentioned before that Davis Bynum Wines were one of my gateway wines to American Pinot. I had purchased some older vintages of wines that were produced when Davis was still actively engaged in the winery. And they were sublime. Like many of the pioneers in the Russian River, Davis Bynum Wines suffered a bit once its namesake pulled out of the day-to-day operations. I can firmly state, however, that ship has been righted under the roof of Rodney Strong. This Chard delicately walks the line between the “old style” California Chardonnay, characterized by butter, oak, and more butter, and the “new style” of fruit-focused wines, holding the butter and oak in check. In other words, a bit “Burgundian” (I know that is a charged term, but it really seems to fit here). Lemon meringue and subtle notes of oak and butter, lead to a delightful palate, with weight, tartness, and yes, a slight buttery oakiness. This wine would please all but the staunchest opponents of buttery chards and there is no doubt in my mind that Davis (who died late last year) would wholeheartedly approve. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2017 Davis Bynum Sauvignon Blanc, Virginia’s Block-Jane’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley: Retail $25. While the Rodney Strong Sauvignon Blanc is quite “un-Sauvignon” this is certainly more along the traditional flavor profile: bright citrus, fresh-cut grass, and a chalky minerality. On the palate, it continues on the traditional SB path, but the flavors are more intense, more concentrated than most SB on the market, with a sharp acidity that melds beautifully with the fruit. Strength yet elegance all the way through to the quite lengthy finish. A beautiful wine. I am not sure I have ever given a Whoa to a Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from the U.S., but this is close. Really close. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.