2012 Proves Benchmark Vintage For Rodney Strong Single Vineyard Cabernet
All photos by Emma Criswell.
There are three plots on the Rodney Strong property in Alexander Valley from which single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is produced: Rockaway, Brothers, and Alexander’s Crown. Only in the best growing seasons are any one of these wines made; it is even rarer for all three to be vinified in a single vintage. However, that’s exactly what happened in 2012 when maritime influences and warm breezes created perfect growing conditions for these vineyards which have very different climates.
Alexander Valley is a growing region a little over 20 miles long within the Sonoma wine region of California. Elevations range from 150-1500 feet above sea level allowing for a multitude of microclimates along the way. Alexander’s Crown is the coolest with median temperatures of 59 degrees and maritime influences. Rockaway is a bit warmer, and higher with average temperatures of 62 degrees, and the warmest is Brothers which sees temperatures close to 70 on a regular basis. This allows for vastly different styles of wine, ranging from feminine and voluptuous near the Pacific, to bold and rich at higher elevations further inland.
These Cabernets aren’t what you think of when imagining a California Cab; there is no Coca-Cola here, though there is a lot of cherry, be it from the bing, sour, or stewed flavor profile. Each of the three single vineyards have their own mellow yet bold flavors, would pair well with a multitude of foods; a glass or two could even be enjoyed on its own. Because there is no “rip your tongue out tannin” to be found, the wines would pair with lighter, less fatty dishes like an olive oil dressed salad, or a pork loin.
Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
The color of this wine is dark, almost reminiscent of raisin with a touch of garnet. On the nose you will find notes of soy, tobacco and sage with stewed plum and slight hints of cherry and red currants. The palate is well rounded with integrated tannin and very fruit forward. A slight tobacco sweetness catches you off guard -- in a good way -- and leads to a spicy, lingering finish.
Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
A deep purple and garnet color, Alexander’s Crown is the most elegant of the three; likely owing to vines hailing from 1971 when the vineyard was planted. On the nose, violets are prominent with black cherry, black currant compote, plum, and musty, freshly tilled soil. The palate is smooth, rich and velvety, with soft tannins, bright fruit and a surprisingly peppery finish.
Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
The darkest purple in the glass, this wine is rich and complex, very fruit forward and luscious. On the nose is mostly red fruit such as cherry, blackberry and strawberry seed. You will also find chocolate and notes of baking spice which give way to an equally rich, smooth and chocolately mid-palate with a lengthy finish.
These tasting notes are from immediately after opening; just three hours later, all three opened up and showed a more nuanced flavor profile, while keeping their individual structure.