Rodney Strong Vineyards
2006 Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
What We Say
LIMITED ALLOCATION RELEASE:
Our allocation on this delicious reserve Pinot Noir is extremely limited. Should we sell out, we will be featuring another delicious selection from Rodney Strong as a Double Agent Day feature.
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Mission Codename: Strong Reserves
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Rodney Strong Vineyards and retrieve their extremely limited Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Rodney Strong Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2006 Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir
Winemaker: Rick Sayre
Backgrounder: Today’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir comes to us from one of our favorite Sonoma County wineries, Rodney Strong. The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Is brilliant and deep ruby red with ruby and garnet reflections through its deep clear core. Along the edges the color becomes pinkish-brick and when swirled, evenly spaced fast thin legs streak down to the springy wine below.
Smell – Medium in intensity with great depth and complexity starting off with juicy aromas of red cherry and raspberry. Layer upon layer of exotic allspice, earthy forest floor, herbal menthol, floral rose petals, toasted oaky vanilla and a slight nutty mocha touch.
Feel – This expansive medium-to-full bodied dry wine has a lively attack that smooths across the palate with firm but supple tannins. Bright but balanced acidity with a kick of spice lingers long into the finish.
Taste – Rich juicy red and black cherry and raspberry with a touch of cola and allspice are well integrated with toasted oak and vanilla. Earthy forest floor, herbal and the complex aromas from the nose also present on the palate.
Finish – Clean and long with lingering juicy red fruit, exotic spice and toasted oak with vanilla hints are well supported by this wine’s supple tannins and vibrant acidity that begs for you to take another sip.
Conclusion – The 2006 Rodney Strong Vineyards Russian River Valley Reserve Pinot Noir is a delicious example of why the Russian River Valley is so beloved for its wines. Rich and elegant with layer upon layer of complex aromas and flavors are supported by a solid but elegant structure, but this wine is also very approachable with its sentimental spiced fruit flavors. This wine is drinking perfectly right now and will continue to evolve for the next several years. We paired this wine with simple grilled hamburgers on soft brioche bread.
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:
94 Points – Exceptional – – “Deep ruby black color. Compacted aromas of hazelnut praline, berry pie, cocoa and spice follow through on a supple, vibrant entry to a fruity-yet-dry medium-to-full body with a hint of menthol tobacco and eucalyptus honey. Finishes with a long, chewy fruit, peppery spice, and soft tannin fade. Excellent depth of flavor and balance in a broad sturdy frame.”
About This Wine:
Soft and rich, with layers of red cherry, raspberry, cola, caramel and a hint of Asian spice, this impressive, full-bodied wine is aged in 100% French oak, which adds an elegant toasty vanilla character. Enjoy this voluptuous pinot noir now and over the next 2 to 4 years.
Philosophy: The Russian River Valley is well established as one of the premier pinot noir growing regions in the world, and we have been growing and making pinot noir here for forty years. Our Reseve is the winemaker’s artisinal blend of individual wines made from time tested, meticulously farmed sections of some of the very best vineyards in Russian River Valley. Each lot is vinified separately, aged in our finest barrels and then selected by the winemakers for complexity, concentration, and grace. It is literally a matter of taste.
In the Vineyard: 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 the third week of September, and was accompanied by mild weather which promoted excellent flavor development, with the last of this pinot noir harvested on September 26th.
In the Cellar: In 2006, we crafted our Reserve pinot noir in our new “winery within a winery.” Techniques, such as cluster pre-sorting, berry sorting, cold soaking and a free-run only protocol are accomplished in a truly state-of-the-art facility, with small tanks and equipment sized for the most discriminating vineyard selection process.
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
Residual Sugar: 0.08%
Appellation: Russian River Valley
Blend: 100% Pinot Noir (55% Clone 115, 35% Clone 777, 5% Clone 23, 5% 114)
Cellar & Fermentation: 15 months in 100% French Oak barrels