Rosé Colored Glasses – Rodney Strong Rosé of Pinot Noir

There is something about this time of year that is magical; cool foggy mornings and evenings are tempered with the mild warmth of daylight.  The days are a touch longer, and we can be languid in the sunshine of the late afternoon.

This is rosé season.  Frankly, it’s always rosé season, but right now, in the promising first days of Spring, the wide rainbow of pale salmon, vibrant raspberry, and deep rose deliver a transitional beverage that is simply divine.

Rose can be made from any varietal, but perhaps the most common is Pinot Noir.  In 2016, Sonoma County’s Rodney Strnog Vineyards, which has been going strong for over 25 yeras, released their first rosé, expressly made from Pinot Noir grapes (no saignée here!).

While Russian River Valley can produce Pinot Nori that is a bit too bold for my liking, this rosé is, simply said, perfect.  Harvested at ~20 brix, the grapes kissed the skins for a mere nine hours as the whle clusters were pressed gently.  Slowly fermented in a temperature controlled cellar, the pale salmon pink has hints of orange hues and golden rays of sunlight.

Unlike many rosés of Pinot Noir, the first note is not strawberry or raspberry, but rather a savory one.  Fresh green herbs meet jasmine and grilled peaches, while wild mountain strawberry dances on the tongue at the finish.

An excellent late afternoon tipple on a warm day, especially sweet for the price of $25.

Thanks to the cru at Rodney Strong for making this lovely wine, and sending me a sample!

Rockaway baby on the hilltop, take 2~

Here we are, several years later, and the Rockaway blogger scandal of past years is – I hope – a distant memory.

2007 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley*The fog has come in, fall is rearing it’s ugly head after a teaser week of Indian Summer, and I wanted a big red wine.

The 2007 Rodney Strong Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon is from the vineyard of the same name in Alexander Valley, somewhere between 225 and 700 feet in elevation.  This 100% Cab is a huge monster right out of the bottle, with bitter chocolate, espresso, chicory and blackberry notes followed by cedar & menthol.

When I run this through an aerator, it immediately softens up to show more of the blackberry, but the black licorice is also coming forward.  Underlying the leather and subtle black pepper there is a tinge of cherry fruit.

One hour, three aerators and some other wine later, it was luscious and rich with mellow tannins.  A touch of chewy leather remained but mostly what was left was dark blue and black fruit covered in dark chocolate.

I can see this wine being an excellent match with a big piece of steak, after some time in the decanter.  If you want to splurge and impress yoru friends by not buying Napa, TRY IT!


Thanks to Rodney Strong for sending me another tasty winter treat!

Speed tasting!

How do you taste 10 wines in 5 minutes?  Or something like that.  It’s the annual wine bloggers conference, and we’re kicking off speed tasting with

Rodney Strong 2009 Reserve Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley



a touch of apricot



lemon drop

O Brother, where fort art thou?

So, you’ve seen my post on the little wine called Rockaway.  This wine is other half of Rodney Strong’s single vineyard high end Cabernet project, called Brothers Ridge
.  This vineyard sits between 400-1030 feet, in the hills above Cloverdale, and while it shares many similarities with Rockaway it is a very different wine and I enjoyed it for different reasons.

I did not use the Eisch glass this time, but I did decant this wine for about an hour before some old friends came to dinner the night before Thanksgiving.  Given that it was a celebration meal, I thought it was the right time to open something special.

This wine is rich rich rich, full of chocolate and coffee, with a hint of leather.  Even before I had it in the decanter, it was smooth and rich and simply lovely.  I tasted dark cherries, ceder, blackberries and cassis.  It was a chewy wine and had hints of beef jerky.  I truly loved this wine, even more than the Rockaway.   Part of it’s allure was the kick of chili pepper at the finish which surprises and delights.

I especially enjoyed the oak treatment of this wine, as it was subtle and deliciously matured for 22 months in 42% new French Oak, which has a terrific blaance and doesn’t overdo anything.

I would definitely splurge on this wine for a special dinner, but as it’s allocation only you should get in while you still can, and decide if you want to buy it when they release the next round.

Happy drinking!

This wine was provided by Rodney Strong, and as much as I would sometimes like to – I didn’t harm my brother while drinking it.  I also didn’t share, which well, is his bad for not being around :-p



Rockaway baby, in my wine glass

Who can forget, the Rockaway Scandel of 2008, where bloggers around the country were courted sent bottles of the Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon by Rodney Strong.  Now, I wasn’t part of the original Rockaway 10, or however many it was, but some of you might recall that the big bruhaha was becuase of a misunderstood condition that all bloggers must write something in return for the sample bottle of wine.  Again, I wasn’t participating at that time, but I do think that a huge mountain was made out of a molehill.  Yes kids, that’s my opinion, please don’t string me up for it.  Fast forward to 2009, when I have become one of the cool kids and was asked to play kickball at recess, in the form of my very own bottle of 2006 Rockaway Cabernet!  To be clear, no one asked me, cajoled me, or otherwise insisted that I write this piece.

This luxury cab comes from Alexander Valley in Northern Sonoma country, where there is an interesting mix of old school zins and high end cabs planted.  I was really excited to try this wine after all the conversation, and opened it up.  The 2006 Rodney Strong Rockaway cabernet Sauvignon Single Vineyardis 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% malbec, and 1% Petite Verdot, which spent 22 months in 47% new French oak barrels.  Rockaway is planeted primarily to Cab and Merlot, but includes all af the major Bordeaux varietals.  The vineyard is belanted between 250-750 feet, which provides a variety of microclimates.

to further my experience, I also decided to take advantage of an Eisch Breatheable glass that was sent to me as a press sample.  The Eisch Breatheable Glass claims that with it’s patented breathable technology that you will have the same effect leaving the wine in their glass for 2-4 minutes, as you would in a decanter for 1-2 hours.  Now, I was skeptical, but what the heck.  To control the experiment, I also used a Riedel Bordeaux glass, as well as a “standard” glass, aka a regular tasting room glass.
The first sip was in the Eisch, and I found dark cherries, leather, and notes of ceder on the nose.  on the Palate I tasted mocha, chocolate, coffee, molasses, smoke, and it was rich and elegant.  The first impression was that it was a bit young, but that’s not surprising given that it’s only a 2006.  The tannins were very mellow, and this was smooth.  It was elegantly bold with firm backbone, and the dried cherries from teh aroma made their way in to the palate with a finish of bittersweet chocolate.  There was a touch of soy sauce in there as well, with big blackberry pie flavors.  I really enjoyed this wine right out of the glass, with no decanting.

In the Riedel Bordeaux glass, I had a hard time getting the nose.  Again, this wine did not decant, and was only in the glass about 4 minutes before I tasted it.  At first, I got a slight whiff of alcohol, followed by bright red fruit.  I tasted bright red fruit, cranberries and pomegranate with a touch of bitterness on the finish that I wasnt’ expecting from teh previous taste.  I went back to taste out of the Riedel after about 30 minutes and I still tasted that bitterness.  This was not a good outcome, surprisingly.

In the standard glass, I smelled brandied cherries, sour plums, and something slightly off at the first whiff.  I tasted soy sauce and underdone meat, with a bitter note again.  After 30 minutes, the funk had gone away, but ti was still very astringent and not so enjoyable without food.  It tasted very much like the wine in the Riedel but after 30 mins – 1 hr i couldn’t tell the difference.

After a full hour, the Eisch sample was full bodied, focused, and full of dark fruit, coffee, leather, figs and burnt toast.  At this point the Ridel was starting to match the Eisch, and was opening up to all black fruit, figs, burnt toast, and smoke.  I didn’t like the wine in the standard glass at all, and I would avoid it if were served in that glass.  After one hour and fifteen minutes, there is no difference between the Eisch and the Reidel so for impatient drinkers it’s awesome

The moral of this story is two fold:

  1. Glassware matters!  I’ve always believed this, and force my friends and family to do mad scientist experiements to prove this point.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on good stemware, but it does make a difference.
  2. The Rockaway is a beautiful wine, but it needs a good hour of decanting to enjoy properly.
  3. You would probably enjoy this wine more with food.
  4. The Eisch Breatheable Glass is an excelletn idea that works far better tahn I anticipated.  if you are a drinker that is in a hurry the $20 per stem price tag is well worth it.

Rockaway is an allocation only wine, but I would suggest that you get on the list if you are a Cabernet lover, as it is apt to sell out quickly.

The Rockaway Cabernet and the Eisch Breathable Glass were sent as Press Samples.  However, I did put the Eisch glasses on my holiday wish list so I could round out the set of 1 I currently have!  There are no rocks in the Rockaway, but it might Rock you Away.