It’s an overload of new Rodney Strong releases, many representing the brand’s more entry-level offerings. Let’s dig in.
2020 Rodney Strong Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley – Boldly acidic, with notes of peaches and strawberries up top, fading to elements of sour plum and a pinch of Christmas spice. There’s only a minor floral element here, and it feels fresh rather than dried, offering a pleasant counterpoint to the fruit-forward attack. B+ / $22
2019 Rodney Strong Chardonnay California – This is an affordable, no-frills chardonnay that hits all the highlights one would expect from a California-designated white. Bold and acid-driven citrus, plenty of vanilla, and a coconut cream element on the finish all make for a semi-sweet, fruit-forward experience that keeps any otherwise overwhelming barrel-driven notes in check. Fruit trumps wood on this wine, but both make an appearance — which is just what I was hoping for. Amazing value for what’s in the bottle. A- / $10
2017 Rodney Strong Merlot Sonoma County – Quite dry, almost dusty at times, this merlot takes one on a trip across the vineyard, offering notes of earthy terroir, licorice, and blackberry brambles. It fares better with food, where its stubbornly tannic underbelly can be tempered by outside influences. B / $20
2018 Rodney Strong Zinfandel Sonoma County – This aggressive zinfandel doesn’t stray far from expectations, punchy with currants, chocolate-covered plums, and a big blackberry note that builds on the sweet, slightly meaty finish. This is a wine that gets more dessert-like as it develops in the glass, while the beefy elements don’t offer the best complement. B- / $25
2018 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County – Rather flat, with a hefty element of roast beef and woody barrel notes that land with a thud. Black fruit pops for a second or two, then completely disintegrates as the finish builds, taking things back to the butcher’s block. Intensely savory and tight as it fades out. C+ / $22
2018 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley – A more refined and slightly more upscale expression of cabernet than the above, this wine is amply tannic and rather meaty, but it’s layered with black fruits and notes of tea leaf, giving it some nuance — and a bit more immediacy. B+ / $28