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Are you strong enough to be my wine?

A Rodney Strong survey

by Thor Iverson

[charlotte’s home vineyard]A quick tasting of (some of) the Rodney Strong wines, with winemaker Rick Sayre:

Rodney Strong 2006 Sauvignon Blanc “Charlotte’s Home” (Sonoma County) – Wind-blown grass, lemon, and lime with a touch of spice from the wood. Big, juicy, clean, and simple. Good persistence. (2/08)

Rodney Strong 2006 Chardonnay (Chalk Hill) – French oak, barrel-fermentation, lees stirring, and a blend of yeasts. All the modern cocktail ingredients. There’s light oak influence, yellow plum, and apple with good acidity and a round texture. Butter pecan starts to annoy on the finish. Good for what it is, though I’m personally repelled by this flavor profile. (2/08)

Starting with the 2004 vintage, the wines are unfiltered.

Rodney Strong 2005 Chardonnay “Reserve” (Russian River Valley) – Wente and Spring Mountain clones. Fat fig, lush peach, and light strawberry with a healthy swirl of butter. Good in its style, but without complexity, and the finish tails off rather abruptly. The Chalk Hill bottling is better. (2/08)

In his pinot noir, Sayre wants “complexity, not just fruit.”

Rodney Strong 2006 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley) – Soft grey dirt, tight berries, and a chocolate tinge to the finish. Fairly low-key, despite an overall heavy presence in the mouth. Simple. Eh. (2/08)

Rodney Strong 2005 Pinot Noir Jane’s “Reserve” (Russian River Valley) – Very structured, showing beets and smooth, dark fruit. Long, but somewhat rectangular. Needs time. Not bad at all. (2/08)

The philosophical intent behind the reds is that they be, using Sayre’s word, “voluptuous.”

Rodney Strong 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley) – A blend of French and American oak. Minted dark chocolate, leafy dark chocolate, and flatness. No generosity. Pretty insipid. (2/08)

Rodney Strong 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” (Sonoma County) – Dark fruit with some wildness to it and fine, solid tannic structure. The initial wash of fruit, though, eventually gives way to blueberry-vanilla milkshake, though it’s not as overdone as one sometimes finds in California reds, and it soaks up its wood (French) fairly well. (2/08)

Rodney Strong 2004 “Symmetry” Meritage (Alexander Valley) – The lushest wine of the tasting, with better aromatic complexity than anything I’ve yet sniffed. Mixed chocolates and a rush of upfront fruit are promising (though I’d prefer less of the former), the structure arrives and announces itself…and then the wine rather abruptly absents itself from the conversation. Just: poof! It disappears. A high-priced void. (2/08)


Copyright © Thor Iverson.