Rodney Strong Vineyards
2006 Alden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Alden Vineyards
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
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Mission Codename: The Return of the Strongman
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Rodney Strong Vineyards and retrieve their Single Vineyard Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Rodney Strong Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Alden Vineyards 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 single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Rodney Strong’s highest elevation Cabernet Vineyards, Alden Vineyards. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and mission report, below, for the the complete scoop on today’s wine
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark and inky Burgundy in color with a heart of darkest garnet, The wine maintains deeply concentrated color out to the edges of the glass. On swirling, this wine shows a tight and very fast-moving surface. When it finally settles, it leaves two rounds of legs. the first are evenly-spaced and skinny legs that shoot down the glass. After a few moments, a second set of legs emerges! These are chubby and tightly-packed, and take a long time to run down the glass
Smell – Dark and lush, with dark layers of blackberry, dark blueberry, smoky black cherry, plum, earth, oak and spice. These sit softly atop softer notes of cedar, anise, and floral notes
Feel – Light, soft and wet up front, then grippy and mouth-coating across the mid-palate. After a few moments, more medium-grained tannins show up, drying the cheeks and lips as the mouth experiences a cascade of the flavors of the wine
Taste – Delicious and rich, but balanced and even with great fruit and flavors that lead off with black fruit and dark mixed berries. These are followed by an under-layer of smoky cherry, soft oak, dark chocolate and soft spice
Finish – Begins with big flavors which linger for a long interval before they begin to fade gradually. The wine begins dark and fruity, then tails off with smoky mixed berries, earth and a very subtle hint of licorice
Conclusion – This single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from our old friends at Rodney Strong is a real delight. At today’s price for this wine, I declare it an exceptional value, as well. With a deep and lush aromatics, a really excellent feel and flavors that invite lingering sips, this is a wine that is just a pleasure to drink. I enjoyed it with fresh pasta with a light tomato and basil sauce and it was a delightful compliment. With balanced acidity, this is a great food wine. I also really enjoyed an extended sipping-session of the wine on it’s own. I sampled the wine immediately after opening it – and after a few hours of decanting. Both were exciting and delicious experiences, but if you desire a more tender experience, decant the wine for at least 30 minutes before drinking. This 2006 is, in my spy-pinion, ready to drink now – but will be even better after a few more years. For best results, buy enough bottles for both experiences!
What follows is a retransmission of our initial encounter with Rodney Strong:
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 Cabernet Sauvignon for you!
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:
Perched at over 1200 feet, the Alden Vineyard is a unique environment to grow wine. At this elevation, Spring comes later, cooler, and, longer, naturally limiting berry growth size. The resulting smaller berries affect the overall skin to juice ratio in a manner that potentially makes for deep colors, powerful structure, and tremendous concentration of fruit flavors. The challenge, however, is getting the grapes mature before the late season rains. Fortunately elevation comes through a second time, yet in a different way. When Autumn’s longer nights fills the valley with moist, cool air and fog, the higher Alden Vineyard stays above the inversion layer, remaining quite warm throughout the night, allowing for the ongoing enzymatic activity that ultimately matures the crop.
Forward dark berry flavors with accents of chocolate, earth and bold, spicy oak give this powerful wine a lot to offer for near term enjoyment, but classic mountain fruit structure will provide the patient with plenty of reward over the next 5 to 10 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.
Winemaker: Rick Sayre
Appellation: Alexander Valley
Blend: 88% Cabernet, 12% Merlot
TA: 0.66 gm/100ml
Residual Sugar: 0.08%
Cellar & Fermentation: 24 months in oak, 71% American