Rodney Strong Vineyards

2006 Alexander's Crown Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Alexander's Crown Vineyard

California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley

Offer Expired:Nov 15, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Crowning Glory

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Acquire a limited quantity of the fantastic 2006 Rodney Strong’s Alexander’s Crown single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from our good friends at Rodney Strong Vineyards

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Rodney Strong Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2006 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Rick Sayre


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 fantastic value Cabernet Sauvignon with some of its ‘classified’ grapes coming from from Rodney Strong’s famed Alexander’s Crown Vineyard that was originally planted in 1971.

Alexander Valley in northeast Sonoma County is located on the western side of the Mayacamas range and extends westward to the edge of the Russian River Valley. This appellation was formerly considered a part of Dry Creek Valley but became its own appellation in November 1984. The region is best known for exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but recently people are starting to discover its Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Chardonnay as well.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark ruby red hues, right through the clear but slightly darker core of the wine. At the rim, a fat pink band encircles the glass. Swirl the wine and then marvel as tall, inverted V-shaped legs split off as the streak down the glass.

Smell – Bold in intensity with toasty oak-infused red raspberry, Bing cherry, blackberry and red currant. Herbal notes with star anise and wild mushroom emerge after some vigorous swirling.

Feel – Medium-bodied and softly grippy with plush tannins that gives the wine a crushed velvet feel all around the palate. Bright acidity rounds out the wine.

Taste – Rich and bold, with black plum, black currant, dark dried cranberry and smoky young strawberry. After a moment, a bold note of European black licorice emerges, with a very subtle salt-mineral note. Al of these are filled-in by soft black pepper and earthen dark mineral.

Finish – Long in length with dark fruit and smokey strawberry that yields to the dark black licorice and softly smoky oak. Bright acidity and minerals at the end encourage more sips.

Conclusion – This is a dark, complex and and very delicious wine. The dark flavors of the wine provide an intriguing contrast to the deep red look of the wine. We expected more red fruit, just given the appearance. Instead, our tasting panel was treated to a wonderfully complex and darkly-flavored wine. The bright acidity on at the end makes this a great food companion. This bright acidity serves as another delightful contrasting element, adding to the overall intrigue of this terrific wine!

Mission Report:

The call came in the middle of the night.

“Go for red,” I answered groggily.

“Do you recognize my voice?”

I perked up almost immediately. It was Teech, a great asset and local college professor. Teech is a respected professor of Wine Industry Marketing at the Sonoma State University, and a great friend to the company.

Without saying her name, I replied, “I do. Go.”

“If I can guarantee your anonymity, will you come and guest lecture to my students?”

“I would be honored. Transmit the date and details, and I’ll be there. Depending on my mission on that day, I may have to come in disguise. That’ll help me keep my cover.”

She agreed and we signed off. A few minutes later, my smartphone chimed. Coordinates and full details were revealed to me on the small screen. I confirmed the date.

The weeks passed and I eventually found myself in front of a class of college students. I was there as a ‘wine industry marketing insider’, and I gave a talk on ‘alternative sales channels’. Actually, it was more like an informal dialog, with a short presentation and a longer Q&A session. It was good fun and almost all of the students actually stayed awake.

One student, in particular, had the tougher questions for me. I did my best to answer him, but as the questions became tougher, I realized that he was testing me. Was he trying to punch holes in my cover? I wondered. I kept my cool and decided to subtly press back.

It was obvious, to us both, what was happening here, so I made it a point to encourage other students to ask questions.

The presentation now over, the young man approached me. He reached into his jacket pocket. I tensed, ready to spring. He withdrew his hand – to reveal a business card. the card read, ‘Rodney Strong Vineyard’ and contained his name, [REDACTED], and title, [REDACTED].

I took the card and then accepted his outstretched hand. He said in a whisper, “Agent Red, I’m codename King. I’m your newest asset. I’ll be acting as your mole at Rodney Strong. I’ll reach out when I can secure a fantastic RS wine.”

I don’t know how he knew my true identity – and it didn’t much matter; And so a valuable new asset was developed. And, now you know how I came to procure today’s delicious Syrah for you!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the 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:

Alexander’s Crown Vineyard produced the first Vineyard Designated Cabernet Sauvignon in Sonoma County. Planted by Rod Strong in 1971, the first vintage was the unforgettable 1974, which placed Sonoma County, and the Alexander’s Crown, indelibly on “the map”, not to mention garnering top honors by winning the Sweepstakes award at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. Since then, it has continued to gain prominence over the years.

The 2006 vintage began with a rather late bud break during an unseasonably cool and wet spring. March rains slowed shoot growth down considerably, and set the timer for a late harvest. After a fine May and June, much of July was a scorcher, including a 10 day stretch where every day saw temperatures over 90 degrees, and several days topped out at 110! Fortunately, the delayed development of the grapes kept sun scorch to a minimum. Harvest began on October 3rd, and continued throughout October. This ripening period was accompanied by mild weather and promoted excellent flavor development, with the last of the vineyard harvested on October 30th.

Blackberry, red currant, and fresh earth are core flavors with the Crown, and are accented by hints of mint and herbs. 20 months in French oak adds a subtle toasty spice component, and both rounds and softens this elegant, Bordeaux styled Cabernet into a graceful expression of the varietal that will entreat you to enjoy another glass. Drink this classic “collector’s” Cabernet Sauvignon over the next 4 to 8 years.

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

Alcohol: 14.5%

TA: 0.61gm/100ml

pH: 3.80

Appellation: Alexander Valley

Blend: 89% cabernet sauvignon, 11% merlot

Cellar & Fermentation: 20 months in oak, 100% French

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