Rodney Strong Vineyards
2004 Alexander's Crown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon •Alexander's Crown Vineyard
California: Sonoma County: Alexander Valley
What We Say
LIMITED LIBRARY RELEASE:
For today’s wine, we raided Rodney Strong’s libray – and absconded with the final bottles in their stash.
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Mission Codename: The Return of the Strongman – Redux
Operative: Agent White
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: 2004 Alexander’s Crown Vineyard 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 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 and deep purple with an almost black but clear core that lets just a little light shine through reflecting colors of deep garnet. Along the edges, the color lightens just slightly to a dense garnet color. When swirled, this wine leaves behind medium-thick legs that descend leaving hints of color on the edge of the glass.
Smell – Well developed and medium-soft in character with aromas of black and red berries layered over a subtle earthiness. Hints of dried herbs, and a touch of tasted oak and cedar round out the very pleasant and classic nose of this Cabernet.
Feel – Soft and supple on the initial attach with smooth and finely textured ripe tannins that, at mid-palate, spread to the far corners of the tongue. Add to that, this wine’s balanced acidity and exceptional minerality and your get a structure that stands up and lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Round and well integrated flavors of earthy and brambly blackberry, raspberry and a touch of ripe plum framed with toasted oak. Complex notes of black licorice, smoked and toasted herbs and spice and a touch of leather reveals themselves as this wine’s supple flavors glide over the palate.
Finish – Medium-long in length with exceptional lingering ripe textured tannins with hints of fruit and minerality frames the earthy fruit perfectly and begs you to take another sip.
Conclusion – The 2004 Rodney Strong Alexander’s Crown Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is an exceptional example of why single vineyard Cabernet from great vintages are so delicious. Well developed, soft and pretty on the nose, a great textured structure that has old-world character, round and supple earthy fruit with all the complexity you’d want and a finish that lingers, you’ll find yourself taking big sips and polishing off this easy to drink wine in record time. Try, if you can, to take your time, though. Much easier said than done.
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
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – 92 Points – “Exceptional” – BTI 2008 World Wine Championships
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 Crown enjoys the coolest growing conditions of our cabernet vineyards, a major factor in its distinctive flavor profile. We grow 3 different clones of cabernet in Clough, Pleasanton, and Positas series soils, all gravelly loams with slopes in almost every direction. Every change in soil, slope, and direction provides opportunities for complexity, and in keeping with our philosophy, each unique section of the Crown vineyard is harvested separately, vinified separately, and reassembled artfully into the multifaceted cabernet that we’ve known for thirty years.
Blackberry, red currant, and fresh earth are core flavors with the Crown, and are accented by hints of mint and herbs. 20 months in primarily 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.
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.