Rodney Strong comes up with stupendous wines from Sonoma

Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Chalk Hill and Sonoma Coast… those names conjure a slice of American history. But they are also AVAs in Sonoma, CA.  Sonoma County has a varied landscapes and microclimates  and produces world class wines at  good value, not an easy thing to do when the next door neighbors is Napa Valley.  

And within Sonoma, Rodney Strong  was one of the first to plant pinot noir in the Russian River Valley, the first to produce and release a Chalk Hill chardonnay, and the first to make a single-vineyard cabernet in Sonoma County. Since the Klein family, who has been involved in California agriculture for four generations, purchased the winery in 1989they have extended their passion for sustainable farming practices, solar power and other green business practices to the 14 estate vineyards. These are a perfect combination of varietal selection and place, and adapting the terroir -   soil and climate – to the farming and winemaking techniques.

The winery’s current wines, under the baton of winemaker Rick Sayre,  include sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot noir, zinfandel, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, Symmetry, a red meritage wine and a couple of single-vineyard cabernet sauvignons from Alexander Valley.

2008 Knotty Vines Zinfandel Estate Vineyards ($18.50)  When Rodney Strong purchased land on the west side of the Russian River he chose to leave untouched the old zinfandel wines.  Over the years new plants have been added. This superb 2008, a medium-bodied wine, blends grapes from this old vineyard as well from vineyards to the North of Alexander Valley combined with a dry spring, hot summer days and cold nights. After spending 17 months in American and French oak, it is the quintessential zin, fresh, with bright berry fruit, spicy qualities and a lingering finish. Pairs well with pastas, meats and red fruit desserts.  

2007 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Vineyards ($22)    A great value for this delicious Cab grown on the benches and hillsides above the valley floor. The wine, aged for over 18 months in oak barrels,  has a soft tannin  structure , bright, and balanced with beautiful aromatics of red plum and  lingering finish  

2009 Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc Estate Vineyards ($13.50) 100% Sauvignon blanc comes from Charlotte’s Home, Alexander Valley and Russian River Valley. Light, crisp and highly aromatic, the warmer Alexander Valley climate has given the wine ripe pear and melon character, while the ocean-cooled Russian River fruit offers citrus, mineral and herbal qualities, making this wine a fresh, lively and aromatic delight. I was sorry to see the bottom of the bottle!