Rodney Strong Vineyards
2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
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Mission Codename: The Greatest Raid
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Rodney Strong has granted us rare access to their secret library of previous vintages. We took the opportunity to select the best wine from their archives. Today’s 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from our good friends at Rodney Strong Vineyards
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Rodney Strong Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: Rick Sayre
Today’s fantastic 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 which 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 – A beautiful ruby color, from the core of the wine, right out to its edge. When swirled, the wine settles very quickly, giving some clue to its texture. A moment after swirling, tall, thin, wine-stained legs move quickly down the inside of the glass.
Smell – Bold intensity, with layers of rich and bright aromas. Out in front, a big rush of black cherry, leather and cedar greet the nose. Beneath these, jammy blackberry and red raspberry mix with grilled fennel and a hint of dried meat.
Feel – Light-weight and softly grippy on the attack, this wine exhibits fine grained tannins and a bright acidity. The wine leaves a rich coating all around the palate. Soon after, a soft dryness spreads all around the mouth, beginning at mid-palate and spreading outward.
Taste – Rich and very expressive with bold flavors that start with jammy blackberry and smoky cherry and then give way to dark cranberry, black cherry, leather – tasted specifically at the mid-palate – and a hint of black pepper. At the very end, a subtle salty licorice makes a brief appearance.
Finish – Long and lingering, with jammy black fruit and cherry extended by a bright and tangy acidity that carries cranberry and black pepper to the very end, where a delicious hint of European salty licorice provides a distinctive and mouth-watering ending.
Conclusion – This is a fantastic wine that our tasting panel went absolutely wild for. This is a perfectly ‘aged’ wine, that still delivers a great deal of fresh, bright fruit. the color of the wine is a perfect Ruby-red. This is notable for an ‘aged wine’ and it reveals the care with which the wine was bottled and subsequently stored. The color is brilliant rub red, with none of the ‘brickish’ color that is seen in an oxidized wine. Long on flavor and with deep aromatics, this wine is an experience. Our tasting panel spent a great deal of time sipping and discussing this wine, noting how fresh the fruit is and how it shows such balance. This Cab is ready to drink, now, but will be holding onto a few bottles for the next few years, as well. Enjoy this flavor-filled wine all on its own, or pair with a hearty pasta dish or a grilled steak.
Special Note: We were able to secure the final cases of this fantastic wine. Once we sell out of it, it’ll be gone forever. If you love really exceptional Cabernet, please don’t miss out on this one.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Rick Sayre
WINE EDUCATION: 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.
AGENT RED: Thanks for taking a few minutes with us, for this brief interview, today. Please tell me a little bit about your 2004 Alexander Valley Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
RICK SAYRE: Thanks, Red. 2004 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 the 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 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: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you and your wine. Keep up the great work, we love your wines.
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
Awards & Accolades:
91 Points & Exceptional & Cellar Selection – Beverage Tasting Institute
About This Wine:
Bold fruit aromas and flavors centered on red plum and boysenberry, and a rich and mouth-filling 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 26 months. Enjoy over the next 3 – 6 years.
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. We are especially proud of our estate vineyards, which we farm meticulously, matching grape variety to soil and climate, and selecting our harvest dates with great care.
In The Vineyard: The 2004 vintage began with an early bud break during an unseasonably warm March, followed by a contrastingly cool April. After a normal May and June, July and the first part of August were on the cool side, but by the end of August, harvest was well underway as a heat spell got ripening going strong and early for most varietals, with all of our cabernet in by the 21st of October.
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.
Winemaker: Rick Sayre
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Blend: 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot
TA: 0.66 gm/100ml
Residual Sugar: 0.06%
Cellar & Fermentation: 26 months in French and American oak barrels