Rodney Strong Vineyard’s Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to sample Rodney Strong Vineyard’s recently released 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay and 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. With comfortable fall-like temperatures upon us here in Virginia, I have been grilling out back a lot lately. On two separate occasions, I invited wines from Rodney Strong Vineyards to my dinner table and thoroughly enjoyed them with the main course.

One evening, I grilled lemon-rosemary chicken breast and paired it with the 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay. The Chalk Hill appellation is well-suited to Chardonnay and gets the name from its volcanically-derived, white ash soils. Rodney Strong first planted Chardonnay to the area in 1965 and has produced a Chalk Hill labeled Chardonnay since 1977. The 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay is 92% barrel fermented (new and neutral) with 9 months barrel maturation and 92% malolactic fermentation (process of converting harsher malic acid to a softer lactic acid ). Tree fruit, citrus, a dash of baking spice and subtle vanilla/toasty oak scents fill the nose and carry through to the palate with a pleasant medium-length finish. The wine is nicely-balanced and well-integrated with a fairly full mouth-feel. While richly textured, the wine’s acidity holds everything together nicely and readies you for another bite of food. This wine sells for $20 and was a nice match for the grilled bird. Two friends, who claimed they didn’t like oaked Chardonnay, enjoyed this one. Like I told them, “Focus less on the oak and more on if the wine is balanced or not --- then tell me what you think.”

 Rodney Strong Vineyard’s 2010 Chardonnay & Pinot Noir

A few days later, I paired the 2010 Pinot Noir with grilled salmon. Pinot Noir, in my opinion, should have a built-in elegance about it. Some less elegant Pinot Noir wines, albeit hedonistic and delicious, are fleshy/ripe and super-sized and come across as Syrah-like and are surprisingly better suited for a New York strip. The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir flirts with elegance and pairs nicely with flavorful/fatty fish. The wine offers black cherry, tart cranberry, subtle floral perfume, and a generous sprinkling of spice and toasty accents with enough brightness on the palate to make it very food friendly. In my opinion, this is a nice entry-level example that won’t break the bank at $20 and you can enjoy it with a wide variety of foods. In closing, if you cannot find these wines in your local wine shop, then check out Rodney Strong Vineyard’s website and get familiar with the producer and their wines. These two offer good everyday value and were enjoyed by me as well as my dinner guests. Cheers!

Click here to visit Rodney Strong Vineyard's website.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own.

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