Rodney Strong Vineyards

2005 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Mar 16, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Alexander’s Gift

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Rodney Strong Vineyards and retrieve their special 2005 Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Rodney Strong Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Rick Sayre

Backgrounder: Today’s Cabernet Sauvignon comes to us from one of our favorite Sonoma County wineries, Rodney Strong. Grown in Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley, today’s wine is a delicious Estate Cabernet Sauvignon from Rodney Strong’s special benchland and hillside vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report, below, for the the complete story on today’s wine

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Darkest garnet, with a hint of purple, with the deepest ruby-hued edges and a clear but darkening heart. A swirl of this wine reveals it’s purple hues, as a thin layer of the wine spins around the glass. The wine settles fast, leaving behind skinny, colored legs that move slowly down the glass.

Smell – Rich and bold, dark aromatics leap out at you, led by black cherry, dark plum and blackberry. These are followed by soft spice, oak, raspberry and vanilla.

Feel – Soft and easy-going on the attack, then a fuller body appears, gradually, adding depth and dimension. After a moment, fine tannins and a soft acidity dig in, gently, adding an intriguing dynamic to the experience.

Taste – Balanced evenly between bright and dark, red and black, the flavors in this wine are in perfect harmony with one another. Plum and dark cherry lead the way. These are followed soon after by dark mixed berries, brighter red cherry juice, smoky cranberry and smoky oak

Finish – Long and flavorful, with purple fruit and soft oak that taper off slowly. The bright acidity of the wine lends itself to easy pairing

Conclusion – We are always impressed by Rodney Strong’s offerings. Today’s 2005 Estate Cabernet is a delicious reminder of how even their lower-priced wines deliver a fantastic drinking experience. This wine is an easy-drinker with plenty going on. Delicious and complex, without being overly robust, this wine shows a finer balance than some of Rodney’s bigger-brother offerings. This makes the wine a great go to as a daily drinker, an easy aperitif – or a compliment to a great meal. On first opening, you may detect a bit of oak on the palate. Decant for a short while and this mellows, revealing great fruit on the nose and on the palate. A hearty thank you to our friends at Rodney Strong for allowing us to bring you this exclusive Cabernet!

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: Rick Sayre, Vice President, Director of Winemaking

AGENT RED: Greetings, Rick. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

RICK: Always a pleasure!

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?

RICK: I wasn’t struck by lightning so to speak. It was a slow burn. I was 19 and a bootstrap Cellarmaster at Simi Winery. Prior to that I worked at an Italian restaurant and was a cook and firefighter in the Forestry stationed at Occidental. Wine and food, what can I say? It was my encounter with Andre Tchelistcheff who became my mentor at Simi in 1973. I was his first “kid” after he retired from Beaulieu Vineyards.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

RICK: It was Andre and his passion was contagious. I picked up knowledge from other greats along the way; Bob Stemmler, Maryann Graff, Zelma Long, and of course Rodney Strong.

RED: Who do you make wine for?

RICK: Anyone who enjoys wine. It is not just for breakfast anymore!

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

RICK: 2005 Estate Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has the classic rich and juicy black currant flavors that Alexander Valley is known for without the excessive tannins that can make a wine finish harsh. This wine comes from hillside and vineyards on the bench which give it more richness than vineyards on the flat next to the Russian River. This is our Steakhouse Red.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

RICK: This one is simple. A big juicy steak! I have to say there are people that have this with oysters. To each his own. When things get a little too serious I even recommend it with a hot tub.

RED: In your opinion, what makes Sonoma County and alexander Valley so special?

RICK: Sonoma County with its diversity of soil, and climate is one of the best places on earth to work, play, garden and cook with local ingredients. Alexander Valley is one of the best places for big, juicy Cabernets. I get to play with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Russian River Valley as well.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

RICK: The tasks of Winemaking and grape growing change with the seasons. Right now blending, bottling and traveling to spread the good word are on the front burner.

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

RICK: Drink what you like. Drink with friends and have them share a few bottles so you can expand your taste buds without breaking your wallet.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

RICK: I like to get the word out about consistency of our wines. I have been here going on 31 years and it is a combination of good vineyards, (we own more than a 1,000 acres) family ownership that has a long range outlook, and the best tools/ equipment a winemaker would want.

RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of Rodney Strong Vineyards (look for the the brick-colored, X-shaped building) can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

“Bold fruit aromas and flavors centered on red plum and boysenberry, and a rich and mouthfilling texture with soft tannins ”. RICK SAYRE, WINEMAKER

The Alexander Valley signature, or terroir, is evident in this delicious cabernet: bold fruit aromas and flavors centered on red plum and boysenberry, and a rich and mouthfilling texture with soft tannins, all of which we’ve framed in the finest oak barrels for 25 months. Enjoy over the next 3 – 6 years.

History: Rod Strong recognized the Alexander Valley as an ideal place to grow cabernet sauvignon as far back as 1971, when he planted our first cabernet vineyard, the Alexander’s Crown. Today we proudly farm over 200 acres of estate cabernet, which we farm meticulously, selecting our harvest dates with great care.

In The Vineyards: The 2005 vintage began with a rather late bud break during an unseasonably cool and wet spring. Record May rains luckily came before bloom for cabernet, and an average to cool summer further contributed to a harvest about three weeks later than normal. Fortunately harvest conditions were rain free with ideal temperatures
for all varieties, and we finished bringing in our cabernet by the 2nd of November.

About The Winery:

Rodney Strong is one of Sonoma County’s most dramatic wineries. Visitors are invited to our hospitality center offering a sampling of the award winning wines of Rodney Strong. Enjoy wine tasting with balcony views, taking a tour of the winery’s working centers, attending special events, or just relaxing with a picnic and glass of wine on our lush lawn set among the beautiful vineyards of the Russian River Valley.

“Rodney Strong Vineyards was founded on the recognition of Sonoma County’s potential for excellence. Through decades of grapegrowing and winemaking, we continue to fulfill the promise of the fine land. Our approach is for the grapes from each vineyard and growing region to express their intrinsic character in the special wines we craft. Gentle handling, careful use of barrel and stainless steel fermentation and proper oak aging are guided and monitored to enhance the natural characteristics of our fruit.”

“Today the winery owns and farms many exceptional vineyards in Sonoma County’s prime grapegrowing appellations where our critically acclaimed Estate, Vineyard Designated and Reserve wines are grown.” – Rick Sayre, Winemaker.

About The Winemaker:

Rick Sayre – Vice President, Director of Winemaking – Rick Sayre began his winemaking career in 1970 at the age of 19 as assistant winemaker and cellar master at Simi Winery in Sonoma County. He joined Rodney Strong Vineyards in 1979 and since has been responsible for winemaking for the Winery’s Sonoma County, Estate, and Reserve wines.

As a practitioner of handcrafted wines, Rick is involved in all aspects of winemaking from vineyard management through final blending. In 1991, his hands-on approach paid off as Wine & Spirits Magazine named him “Chardonnay Winemaker of the Year”. Again, in 1999 Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences named him “Winemaker of the Year”.

Rick’s education in winemaking began in the 1970s under the direction of the world-renowned winemaster, Andre Tchelistcheff. It is to Tchelistcheff that he attributes his passion for the art and his desire to master the craft. Always a perfectionist with an eye for detail, Rick continues to apply these traits to making the fine wine of Rodney Strong Vineyards. “It’s so important to be aware of everything,” he says. “Andre taught me that a winemaker must live with his wine, from walking the vineyards, to the careful craft of guiding the wine into bottle. Even the smallest details can have an effect.”

Rick has expanded his winemaking expertise with several trips to France, where he studied the interplay of oak and wine. His voracious appetite for knowledge in winemaking from around the world also inspired journeys to Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

After visiting many of the French cooperage houses, he decided to bring their barrel toasting techniques back to the States and became the first winemaker in California to install an in-house cooperage, specializing in toasting of American oak barrels. In recent years, Rick has worked closely with World Cooperage, a renown American cooperage company, in an effort to perfect the American oak barrel for winemaking.

Since his arrival at Rodney Strong Vineyards, Rick has been instrumental in bringing worldwide notoriety to the Winery’s Estate wines. Alexander’s Crown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and Chalk Hill Vineyard Chardonnay have set standards of Sonoma County winemaking, and have become favorites to consumers all over the United States.

Rick lives in Windsor with his wife, Peggy. Avid gardeners, the two are often spotted at the local farmer’s market selling their fruits and vegetables. Rick enjoys cooking delicious comfort food to accompany his wines. He also finds solace in casting a line now and again for any of a variety of fish. And, while he enjoys a handful of other sporting activities, he admits bruises and broken bones are for days past.

Technical Analysis:

Winemaker: Rick Sayre

Blend: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Merlot, .5% Malbec

Appellation: Alexander Valley, Sonoma County

Alcohol: 14.2

TA: 0.62 gm/100ml

pH: 3.59

Residual Sugar: 0.05%

Cellar & Fermentation: 25 months in French and American oak barrels

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