2016 Rodney Strong Knights Valley Cabernet Magnum (1.5 L bottle)
Everyone knows that Napa Valley is Cabernet country. But I’d argue that its neighboring valleys can make Cabs that are just as dramatic.
The one that sticks out in my mind is Knight’s Valley. Take a look at a map, or better yet, take a clean shot up away from Napa Valley, heading towards Calistoga and the famed Chateau Montelena. But don’t stop, just keep right on going. And you know what? Without even realizing it, you’ll have passed into Knight’s Valley.
Knight’s is probably the least heard of yet one of the most dramatic areas of California to plant Cabernet. Sitting at the top of Napa, it provides the Valley’s hallmark concentrated black raspberry-flavored fruit. Powerhouse tannins and a muscular deliciousness round out the Knight’s Valley Cab. There is a reason steakhouses pour Rodney Strong—it’s one heck of a great pairing.
Fifty-five years ago, the celebrated dancer Rod Strong realized this. Yes, he actually was a celebrated Broadway dancer (the wine industry attracts all sorts of nefarious types, like ex-chefs and whatnot). As Strong put it to the New York Times in 1998, “I knew I couldn’t be an old dancer, but I could be an old winemaker.”
In the 1960s, he began teaching at Sonoma College for some extra cash. He’d gather up some of his students, drive on up to Knight’s Valley, gathering whatever hippies were along the way, and start farming the Cabernet. In this respect, Rodney Strong created one of several firsts – being the first person to farm from single geographic (and vineyard) locations, as well as being one of the first to have extensive vineyards of his own in the Valley.
Though Rod Strong passed several years ago (as a happy, old winemaker), his winery continues to make stunning Knight’s Valley Cabernet:
The black-opaque wine releases intense aromas of crème de cassis, blackberry fruit, crushed blueberries and granite stone rock. These flavors on the palate are backed by full-bodied but thoroughly integrated tannins that are fabulously seamless, pointing to the wine’s extraordinary purity and depth. The wine is drinking great now and I wouldn’t hesitate at all to cocktail off a bottle by myself on these cold winter nights. But not to worry, this magnum has at least seven more years in your cellar to be treasured.
And yes! It’s a magnum, 1.5 liters of power, or a double bottle. We know that you’ll be drinking in parties, with friends and family and you know what, nothing says “rock on” better than a large bottle. And don’t give me any of that “we’ll never drink that much!” phooey. Plenty of times you’ve opened a second bottle saying “that last glass was so great.” With a magnum the last glass is when the bottle is still halfway full and hitting in perfect stride. Enjoy the rest with great pleasure!