Classically trained dancer Rodney Strong put down roots in California (as a resident and a wine maker) in the late 1950s. His wines took a fascinating ride with quality rising and falling over the past 50 years. But in the last 2-3 years, I've noticed a serious uptake in the overall quality of these nationally distributed wines. From the "Charlotte's Home" (Strong's wife) Sauvignon Blanc to the "Alexander's Crown" Cabernet Sauvignon, these are wines to seek out for quality and value. Today's Pinot Noir offering is a very good wine at a modest price to slake America's burgeoning love affair with this grape.
2010 Pinot Noir, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Russian River Valley $20 srp
Classic Burgundian color. Overt and supple, this Pinot delivers fresh cut roses, leather, ripe strawberry compote and cola notes on the nose, with lively spice-box overtones and judicious oak. Flavors are brisk, yet mouth-filling. Pure fruit elements are in balance with a tannic structure that promises further development. Drink now-2016.