25 Sep Rodney Strong releases three single-vineyard cabs
Rodney Strong Vineyards recently hosted a dinner in the heart of the Rockaway Vineyard to celebrate the release of three single vineyard cabernet sauvignons from the Alexander Valley. Overlooking the vineyard, guests dined on food by Chef Tara Wachtel while enjoying the wines of Rodney Strong with owner Tom Klein, winemakers Rick Sayre and Greg Morthole and grower relations’ manager Ryan Decker.
Rodney Strong Vineyards, established in 1959 by dancer Rod Strong and purchased by the Klein family in 1989, owns 12 estate vineyards in Sonoma Country. Three of the vineyards, featured at the event, are from the Alexander Valley.
Alexander Valley, located at the northern end of Sonoma County, 22 miles long and adjacent to the Russian River, has 15,000 acres are planted on hillsides to the east and west. Best known for growing Bordeaux varietals, the Alexander Valley is one of the warmer regions in Sonoma County. The region received its AVA status in 1984.
Rodney Strong’s three vineyards in the Alexander Valley are Alexander’s Crown Vineyard, Rockaway Vineyard and Brothers Ridge Vineyard. The single vineyard series represents the individual places in Alexander Valley and are only produced in excellent years. All three vineyards are hillside vineyards but they vary in elevations ranging from north to south. The fruit is hand-picked in all three and blocks are kept separate. The vineyards also share good water drainage and nutrient deficient clusters. 2012 was an excellent year across Alexander Valley resulting in Rodney Strong releasing single vineyard bottling from each of the vineyards.
Alexander’s Crown in Jimtown
Rodney Strong was the first to do a single vineyard cabernet sauvignon in Sonoma Country from this vineyard in 1974. Located in the southern part of the Alexander Valley, at an elevation of 250 feet above sea level, it is the coolest of the three vineyards with access to ocean breezes in the afternoon. With 66 acres planted, the 15 acres at the pinnacle of the hill are also known as the Crown. Replanted with a single clone on a single rootstock in 2003, the grapes from here are used for the single vineyard cabernet sauvignon.
The soils are old river bench deposit, volcanic tuff and red, well-drained gravelly loam and clay. The resulting wine is the most elegant and Bordeaux-like. The softest of the three wines, it has ripe flavors of black cherry, plum and dried fruit with notes of violet. A voluptuous wine, it has soft tannins and a long finish.
Rockaway Vineyard in Geyserville
Acquired in 2003, Rockaway Vineyard is located in the middle of the Alexander Valley, five miles north of Alexander’s Crown and seven miles south of Brothers Ridge, in the hills east of Geyserville. At an elevation of 750 feet about sea level, there are 125 acres planted to the Bordeaux varietals and syrah.
The soils are made up of well-drained loam with gravelly clay subsoil over fractured substone. Acidic soils with low pH result in a wine with concentrated red cherry, red currant and plum, as well as notes of tobacco and baking spices.
Brothers Ridge Vineyard in Cloverdale
Planted in 1997, Rodney Strong Vineyards bought Brothers Ridge in 2003. Located in the warmest part of the valley and at the highest elevation (1,000 feet above sea level), the 141 acres are planted to cabernet sauvignon, as well as small blocks of merlot and Malbec. The soil is made up of well-drained loam with sandy clay subsoil, sandstone, shale and greenstone. The resulting wine has aromas of ripe black fruits and chocolate, layers of flavors and big tannins.
While single vineyard bottlings have been made from each of these vineyards over the years, the 2012 vintage has provided the opportunity to look at the appellation and compare the quality of the cabernet sauvignons coming from the Alexander Valley.Read the original story in the Napa Valley Register.
Check out photos from the release party in the vineyard: [miniflickr photoset_id=72157658485978160&sortby=date-posted-asc&per_page=36]