The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 is an estate-grown 100% Pinot Noir. For a little bit of background, Rodney Strong was a dancer on Broadway who came to Sonoma in 1959 and became a modern pioneer of California wine. He was one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Russian River and plant Chardonnay in the Chalk Hills AVA. They are also pioneers in sustainable growing and winemaking practices.
The Klein family has been running Rodney Strong Vineyards for the last 30 years and are 4th generation farmers. Grapes have been growing on Rodney Strong property for over 100 years. This is a prestige winery with strong roots.
The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 is sourced from estate vineyards (they own 11 vineyards) with the bulk of the fruit coming from the River East Vineyard which was planted in 1968. The River East Vineyard was their original vineyard and one of the first Pinot Noir plantings in the AVA.
The 2018 vintage is the current release and you can tell a great deal about the wine from when the grapes were picked and when the wine is ready for release. A wine that took 3 or more years to reach its balance probably had complex production methods. Lots of grape extraction and lengthy fermentation process and detailed oak barrel aging.
The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 was aged for 10 months in French oak barrels, 20% new barrels. New barrels give more oak influence than barrels that have been used once or twice before. The right blend of new and used barrels is needed to get the oak to be exactly right.
This is a wine that lists for $25, but I found it on sale for $14.99, which is an excellent price for an estate of Russian River Pinot Noir from a winery and not a brand of wine. Rodney Strong has a more affordable line of wines that features fruit from local growers and has wines that sell in the $50 to $80 range.
The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 should be a classic Russian River Pinot Noir from a winery that is one of the originators of Russian River Pinot. The alcohol content is a little hot for a Pinot Noir at 14.5%, but not out of line with modern California Pinot Noir.
The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 Tasting Notes
The color is a clean, clear garnet red, very see-thru with an almost clear rim. The nose is classic California Pinot Noir, herbs, crushed autumn leaves, cherry, Dr. Pepper (not sweet), black pepper, faint vanilla, and licorice. The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 is silky with subtle, mysterious flavors.
This Pinot Noir tastes like ripe black cherry, a slap of spice, rough-edged herbs, bitter chocolate, and ripe, juicy plum. The mid-palate shows a salty sensation, orange zest, sleek blueberry, sour cranberry, more spice, and a late splash of orange mixed with strawberry. The tannins are in the mix and add texture. The acidity is right-on, the flavors have plenty of space to unfold and the acidity has you reaching for the next sip.
- The Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 is an excellent value. It is a subtle mix of old school Pinot Noir and newer bolder Pinot.
- This is an excellent food wine with plenty of structure to stand up to a variety of food and if you are having ham for the Easter meal this will fit right in.
- I was a little concerned with the 14.5% alcohol, I refer old school Pinot to the newer wines, but the Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2018 is a kind of the best of both worlds Pinot Noir.