Rodney Strong Vineyards Rosé is Pinot Noir Pleasure

I constantly drink pink wine. But most of those bottles are blends, particularly in the style of Provence. Lots of Grenache, Carignan, Syrah,Mourvèdre, and/or Cinsault in various percentages. (And other grapes, too.) But I want to focus on Pinot Noir and particularly the Rodney Strong Vineyards Rosé. The winery sent me a sample bottle along with a few other current releases.

2017 Rodney Strong Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25)

This Sonoma winery makes its rosé from 100% Pinot Noir, sourcing it from the prestigious Russian River Valley region. Something about Pinot Noir rosé I find striking in very good examples (like from Sancerre or Burgundy) is that have a…well…how to say this?

This is going to sound really dumb.

OK, I’m going for it.

Great Pinot Noir rosé has a lovely…Pinot Noir-ness to it. Whew. Ok, I said that and the world didn’t stop turning.

My point is that a lot of nondescript rosé, particularly from Provence, it doesn’t smell or taste like much. Though, truth be told, I drink a hell of a lot of rosé like this. Falling on my corkscrew for you here on this blog.

It’s really nice to stick your nose into a wine glass, or in my case a juice glass/rando Fernet short (not shot) glass/enamel tumbler, and get some nice whiffs of classic, pretty, elegant Pinot Noir. Extremely pleasant.

2016 Rodney Strong Vineyards Upshot Red Wine Blend ($28)

I’d also like to call attention to the rosé label. It’s a departure from the old-fashioned ones you find on other bottles from the winery. Shifting wine gears, if you are a red blend fan and want to see a very modern, unique, and informative label check out Rodney Strong Vineyards Upshot. Ok, I’ll just post it here. It’s a Zin-based mix with Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and even 3% Riesling (!) invited to the party. I drank it at a Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (ZAP) lunch. Don’t worry, it’s not sweet. (Also, there is a ton of dry Riesling out there, even from Germany. Sorry, getting distracted.)

Rodney Strong Vineyards Rosé is Pinot Noir Pleasure

So while rosé blends are great, it’s really fun to drink one made 100% from a single grape. And then think about the red wines you’ve had from that grape and how much you get a sense of it from the pink stuff. (Cabernet Franc is another grape I find very interesting in both rosé and red form.) And by all means, keep on drinking those rosés made from a unique, thoughtful hodgepodge of grapes. Just keep slaking your thirst with rosé, period, forever.

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Randy Meyer of Geyser Peak Winery Talks Roses (Flowers)

Recently I was invited to taste through a lineup of Sauvignon Blanc from Geyser Peak Winery. Located in Healdsburg, California, I was at first intrigued because it seems, well, audacious for a place to make four (!) Sauvignon Blancs. It reminded me of Matanzas Creek, the only other Sonoma winery I could think of  also producing numerous Sauv Blancs from multiple sites. (If there are more, LMK.)

After the tasting I happened to learn the new (as of March) winemaker at Geyser Peak Winery, Randy Meyer, had a passion outside of wine I thought was intriguing. He’s really into roses. And no, I’m not one of those people who spell rosé without the accent over the e. (Here’s a great rant about that from one of my favorite wine blogs, The Drunken Cyclist.) I’m talking roses as in flowers and that Poison song.

Anyway, I thought I would give Randy a call and we’d talk about roses and Sauvignon Blanc. Concerning the latter, we get into Geyser Peak Winery’s three bottlings sourced from Anderson Valley, Russian River Valley, and Dry Creek Valley. (I should note Geyser Peak does have a rosé as in the wine.)

Here are some highlights from our conversation.

On developing a passion for roses:

My father, who is a retired pediatrician, always had roses and would propagate them. One of our all-time favorites is the Double Delight. It’s got red edges and a cream center….Insanely fragrant. My dad used to propagate them and give them away to friends. So I remember when I got my first house he gave me a couple five-gallon buckets of Double Delight roses. It all started from there really.

Double Delight rose photo via Wikimedia commons by Arashiyama.

The number of rose varieties in his garden:

That’s funny I was just counting recently. I think I have eighteen in my yard now.

Whether roses at the end of vineyard rows are an early warning system for grapevine problems:

It is true to a certain extent. With particular varieties, they [roses] can pick up powdery mildew or any sort of potential wet climate diseases before the grapevines pick them up.

In a way roses are very similar to grapevines. They produce something wonderful, they go dormant, they have diseases, yet they’re hardy.

Thoughts on gardening and winemaking:

When you’re out there gardening, there is this very slight artistic element to it. You take pride in raising that crop, whether it’s an amazing bouquet of all different kinds of roses or some amazing Sauvignon Blanc. The two do go very much hand-in-hand….There’s also attention to detail, a little bit of preventative methodology, that goes into both of them.

Randy Meyer of Geyser Peak Winery Talks Roses (Flowers)

Randy Meyer, winemaker at Geyser Peak Winery

Why Sauvignon Blanc is interesting to work with, particularly in multiple sites:

We’re very lucky to have these vineyard sources in the three different valleys. I must admit they all are different. Those differences can either be accelerated or brought together depending upon when they’re picked [the grapes] and how they’re farmed.

Alexander Valley’s the hottest. When we’re up there, we’re usually looking at making sure the grapes don’t get too ripe. One of my critical Sauvignon Blanc attentions to detail is maturity at harvest. It’s probably one of the pickiest grapes at harvest as far as nailing the maturity to the flavor profile. Alexander Valley being pretty warm, the acidity can drop pretty quickly. Those crisp flavors can drop out quickly, too.

When you move to Russian River, you’re dealing with high acidity. And often times a slightly higher brix [sugar content of grapes] level that may not be damaging to the flavors….I tend to like Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River a teeny bit riper.

In Dry Creek, you’re kind of splitting the middle. The particular vineyard around the winery, I’d almost borderline call it pungent. Really aromatic, big grapefruit, passion fruit.

With Sauvignon Blanc people used to use a bit of oak and the Fumé [Blanc style] was popular. Then New Zealand came on the scene….that whole trend took off. For the most part that grapefruit-y style, which is one of my favorites, seems to be what consumers are going after. And I’m more than happy to make it for a long time.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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