Rodney Strong Vineyards - 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay / 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Rodney Strong Vineyards is a Sonoma County producer with an impressive and consumer friendly portfolio. If you’re a wine lover there’s a very good chance they have something you’ll like that also fits into your budget. Today I’ll take a look at two of their wines that I have tasted over numerous vintages which are consistently well made year after year. The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay was produced entirely from fruit sourced in the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. 92% of the wine was fermented in French oak and underwent malolactic fermentation. That portion was also aged in new and seasoned barrels for 9 months; the balance was fermented and aged in stainless steel. This widely available wine has a suggested retail price of $20. Aromas of vanilla, lemon zest and subtle toast emerge from the nose of this Chardonnay. Bartlett pear and yellow delicious apple flavors are dominant through the palate along with a wallop of zesty lemon curd which is one of the hallmarks of this wine year after year. Minerals, white pepper and baker’s spice are part of the finish along with hints of creaminess. Firm structure marked by solid acidity makes this a Chardonnay well heeled to pair with a variety of food styles. The Chalk Hill release from Rodney Strong is in that beautiful middle ground of Chardonnays that showcase pure fruit that are enhanced by judicious use of oak which is clearly present but never detracts. Drink it up, they make more every year.

The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced from fruit sourced at a number of vineyards. The River East vineyard in Healdsburg which was planted by Rod Strong in 1968 is a chief contributor. This wine is 100% varietal. Barrel aging occurred over 11 months in entirely French oak. This wine is readily available nationally and has a suggested retail price of $20. Strawberry, leather, and cinnamon aromas are well represented on the nose of this Russian River Pinot Noir. Black Cherry flavors leads the palate and they’re joined by red plum, as well as continued bits of strawberry. Black tea, pepper and a treasure trove of spices as well as hints of red apple emerge on the finish which has very good length. Racy acidity and nice overall structure help make this a versatile food wine. If you’re looking for a dependable Russian River Pinot Noir for around $20, this wine has got to be on your list.

It’s probably clear by now that I’m a big fan of the Rodney Strong Vineyards wines. As much as I do like the wines though, I’m an even bigger fan of what this winery represents. They’re a widely available brand that provides fair value at numerous price tiers. Consumers should have the confidence to buy wine with the Rodney Strong name on it knowing that they are getting a well made wine that represents a real place, Sonoma County. Not everyone has the wide selection available that we do in some parts of the country, the time to research them when we do or in some cases the resources to blindly take a chance on a bottle. With Rodney Strong Vineyards you’re placing a safe bet that you will win.