Saturday, March 26, 2022

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon with tomahawk beefsteak dinner

Linda prepared one of her classic tomahawk ribeye beefsteak dinners with smashed potatoes and asparagus tips. I pulled from the cellar this vintage Reserve Sonoma Cabernet. My view is that Sonoma Cabs tend to be a bit lighter, less structured and therefore more approachable than those from Napa with its slightly warmer climate, lacking the cooling influences of the Pacific. Having less cache' perhaps than Napa cabs, Sonoma cabs also tend to be less expensive as well, often providing higher QPR - quality price ratios - as Napa wine prices have escalated through the roof in recent years. 

This wine is labeled Sonoma County, Alexander Valley, which is in the northern, eastern portion of region.

It has been written that Sonoma winemakers like to think of their region as a quieter, less glitzy alternative to the Napa Valley — though in fact, it produces roughly 50 percent more grapes annually, covers more than twice the ground, and boasts about three times the population. 

I write in more detail about Sonoma County and its diversity in my chronicles of our Sonoma Wine Experience 2017.

Sonoma had grapes planted earlier than Napa did, with the first plantings dating back as early as 1812. Legendary Hungarian writer and entrepreneur Agoston Haraszthy, called "the father of California viticulture," bought a property in Sonoma in 1857 and founded the still-extant Buena Vista winery there,  (it is the oldest commercial winery in the state). He later traveled around Europe collecting vine cuttings and is said to have introduced some 300 new varieties to California (among them, according to legend, zinfandel — though this has been disputed). 

Sonoma County boasts a broader range of more diverse soil types and microclimates due to its size and proximity to the coast on the west, and the inland mountain ranges and valleys to the east. The numerous subregion appellations are suited to many grape types with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir being more predominant to the west and Russian River Valley, and Cabernet and Zinfandel thriving inland in the warmer climate areas. 

Dating back to 1959, Rodney Strong Vineyards was the 13th winery bonded in the nascent emerging Sonoma County wine industry.

The current owner proprietors, the Klein family, 4th generation California farmers, took over in 1989.

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Sonoma County Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

This would have been crafted by winemaker Emeritus Rick Sayre, who carried on the Rodney Strong vision, crafting wines for almost four-decades before handing over winemaking duties to current Director of Winemaking Justin Seidenfeld in 2018. 

This vintage release label was awarded 90 points by Wine Enthusiast. 

Wine Enthusiast notes, "The winery is trying very hard to boost the quality of their Reserve Cab. The challenge is to build in those extra layers of complexity and depth." I think this sums up well the impression left by this wine, that it lacks any wow factor and is less than inspiring, lacking that complexity and firmer backbone or structure one might expect or hope for.  

They did package it in a heavy stock grade bottle, indicative of more expensive premium cabernets, found commonly today.

Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, black berry fruits with notes of cassis, herbs and hints of spice and cedar with moderate tannins on the finish. 
RM 88 points.