The Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma is one of a handful of areas in California that's well suited to regularly turning out world class Pinot Noir. There are others, of course. Too often however, Pinot Noir from California is too dark, too heavy, too alcoholic and bearing little resemblance to fine Burgundy. At the end of the day most wine makers who take on the challenge of Pinot Noir are using Burgundy as their gold standard. Rodney Strong Vineyards in Sonoma has a large portfolio with a wide array of offerings across various designations, price points and styles. Amongst those are three different Pinot Noir offerings. Their 2006 Russian River Pinot Noir is amongst several wines I'll take a look at over the next few days. This 2006 Pinot Noir from California has 3% Syrah blended in. This is fairly common in California, often to add color. The wine spent 9 months in 100% French Oak. The suggested retail price for this offering is $22 and it can often be found in the mid teens.
Wild strawberry and rhubarb notes are the first thing to emerge from this wine's nose. Taking the first sip I was hit with bing cherry, nutmeg, light vanilla and additional strawberry notes. The wines mid-palate is soft, lush, delicate and gentle. A strong earthiness that features mushroom notes emerges at the end of the mid-palate and carries through the finish. This is accompanied by persistent spice notes, which linger, in an above average finish. The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir, as with other well made Pinot Noirs will match a wide array of foods. This is a selection to look for in a restaurant when everyone at the table has ordered vastly different dishes.
What I like best about this wine is that it's true to its varietal. Here's a relatively modestly priced Pinot Noir that has the characteristics one would expect from this grape. The oak influence in this wine is well in check, properly enhancing, not detracting from the fruit. Well done by Rodney Strong Vineyards.
Up Next: Rodney Strong Vineyards- Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
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