Tuesday, September 19, 2017

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  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rodney Strong Blending Seminar with Winemaker Rick Sayre



Rodney Strong Blending Seminar

In , I had the pleasure of attending a Blending Seminar with Winemaker Rick Sayre of Rodney Strong Vineyards at Restaurant Bosk inside the Shangri-La Hotel in downtown Toronto. This was my first such experience, so I was honestly very excited to be part of this fascinating event.

After Rick provided a brief introduction of himself and some of the history of Rodney Strong Vineyards, we began with the business of blending wine. Everyone was split into groups of 3, and the task was to recreate the 2013 Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage (pronounced like heritage) red wine by tasting each of the 5 varietals separately before crafting the blend. This process provided a small window into the world of a winemaker because they also go through this process when crafting their wines.

Wine Blending
To offer some help, Rick provide hints during the introduction, such as this wine usually includes at least 60% will be Cabernet Sauvignon, and that Petit Verdot is used in relatively small quantities. We were provided with a cylinder, funnel and pipettes to precisely craft our blend.
Once each group was satisfied with their blend, they submitted their wine to Rick for assessment. Our blend consisted of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. The results were announced shortly thereafter and, based on Rick's comments, it sounded like he enjoyed our wine the most, mentioning that it was very much a Bordeaux style of wine. However, this task was not about creating a Bordeaux style of wine; instead, the task was to create a Californian style of wine, such as the Symmetry. Thus, unfortunately, we did not win the competition, nor the prize that came along with it.

The winning team, oddly enough, consisted of 2 Chefs and a Somm. Congratulations to my friends Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelière Rebecca Meïr-Liebman of Chef & Somm as they were two-thirds of the winning team! They crafted their blend using 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 10% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 4% Cabernet Franc. The actual blend of the 2013 Symmetry consisted of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 4% Merlot. I was surprised at how much Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc was in the Symmetry, as well as how little Merlot was included.

Winemaker Rick Sayre (second from left) with Winners of Wine Blending Competition Chef Eyal Liebman and Sommelière Rebecca Meïr-Liebman

After the blending seminar, we were invited upstairs for a Reception to taste a few other wines from the Rodney Strong portfolio. Wine reviews of the Symmetry, as well as a few of the other wines tasted are provided below. These wines do show up in LCBO VINTAGES periodically, however, you can also reach out to the Agent, Mark Anthony Group, for your immediate needs.

Tasting Note:

RODNEY STRONG SYMMETRY 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#641142) (XD) - $56.75
Blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec and 4% Merlot. Medium-high intensity nose should open up further with air, this has pretty floral, bing cherry, sweet vanillan oak and hint of medicinal aromas. It's full-bodied and ripe on the palate with nice aroma replays - sweet vanillan oak and blueberry come to mind. It has structured, grippy tannins and very good acids to allow for long-term ageing. Long, earthy and dark berry finish. Score: 90+

Rodney Strong Symmetry 2013 (90+ pts)

RODNEY STRONG ALEXANDER'S CROWN SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#329961) (XD) - $100
This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is highly aromatic and shows lovely red currant, cassis, evergreen and mint notes. It's full-bodied and firm on the palate with structured tannins, mouth-watering acids and very nice aroma replays. The finish is long and smooth. A powerful wine with finesse that is enjoyable now, but will age gracefully for at least 15 years. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Alexander's Crown Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)

RODNEY STRONG ROCKAWAY SINGLE VINEYARD CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#202507) (XD) - $100.95
Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, with 12% Malbec, 4% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot completing the blend. Medium-high intensity aromas have dark fruit, blackberry, dark currant and oak notes. It's full-bodied with tight tannins on the palate, while showing finesse with dark berry aroma replays, plus leather and integrated oak flavours. It has very good acidity and finishes long. Drinkable now, but better in 3-4 years and should drink well to 2030. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)

RODNEY STRONG BROTHERS RIDGE CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2013 - Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA (#405209) (XD) - $89.75
100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Medium-high intensity aromatics offer dense, dark fruit, purple fruit, cassis, sweet oak and black plum aromas and flavours in a big package. It's full-bodied with mouth-watering acids and firm, structured tannins that are a bit tight. There's some minerality on the palate and it has a long, earthy finish. Age 3+ years and drink to the mid-2030's. Score: 92 pts

Rodney Strong Brothers Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 (92 pts)


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