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Rodney Strong Sonoma Merlot 2015

Merlot from Sonoma County, California
  • WW89
13.5% ABV
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13.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

Lush with predominant notes of black cherry and plum with a hint of dried herbs. Silky and voluptuous with soft tannins and a finish of cocoa and vanilla.

Critical Acclaim

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WW 89
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com
COMMENTARY: With Merlots, I often think that wineries should not make too big a wine, that territory is already covered by Cabernet. The 2015 Rodney Strong Merlot stays perfectly happy in its "sweet" spot. BTW, this is not a sweet wine. TASTING NOTES: This wine is nervy and bright. Its aromas and flavors of snappy red fruit should pair it nicely with a couple of servings of unagi. (Tasted: October 17, 2018, San Francisco, CA)
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Rodney Strong

Rodney Strong Vineyards

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Rodney Strong Vineyards, California
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Founded by wine industry pioneer, Rod Strong, in 1959, Rodney Strong Vineyards is now owned by the Kleins, a farming-based family that prides itself on land stewardship and a relentless push for superior wine quality from Sonoma County. After purchasing the company in 1989, Tom Klein began the endeavor that today brings together excellent vineyards, the industry's finest winemaking equipment, and exceptional talent. The winery farms and sources grapes from vineyards throughout Sonoma County, focusing on Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill. Rodney Strong Vineyards is best known for its estate-bottled and vineyard-designated wines, and is also recognized for their sustainable and Fish Friendly Farming, dedication to solar energy production and becoming carbon neutral in 2009.

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Sonoma County

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Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.

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An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. But the grape also has enough stuffing to make serious, world-renowned wines. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, in St. Emilion and Pomerol, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc. On the Left Bank in the Medoc, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot with Cabernet Franc.

SWS16100_2015 Item# 507908