Wine of the week: Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2018 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir

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Sometimes, mischievous winemaking is the most delicious kind.

It’s the undercover experiment that was never discussed, approved or budgeted.

Sometimes, you see, permission is simply out of the question because curiosity is an indomitable force, a breeding ground for possibility.

Justin Seidenfeld of Healdsburg’s Rodney Strong Vineyards knows a thing or two about mischievous winemaking,

“The first time I made rosé, I did it without telling anyone,” Seidenfeld said. “The owner came and saw it on the table, and to say he was surprised would be an understatement.

“After a somewhat tense conversation, he invited me to bottle it, and now it’s our most popular new wine. I guess the moral here is sometimes taking a risk and doing something you love will pay off.”

Seidenfeld is behind our wine of the week winner –– the Rodney Strong Vineyards, 2018 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County Rosé of Pinot Noir at $25.

This is a gorgeous rosé that’s light on its feet. It’s delicate with notes of white peach and strawberry, buoyed with great minerality.

It is an elegant rosé that’s extremely well crafted.

Seidenfeld pointed out that this rosé is not a saignée, and that makes a difference.

Saignée (“sohn-yay”), for the uninitiated, means “to bleed,” and it’s a method of making rosé that involves “bleeding” off a portion of red wine juice after it has been in contact with the skins and seeds.

“We’re picking the grapes for the purpose of making rosé versus bleeding juice from grapes picked for a different purpose,” Seidenfeld explained. “We’re picking the grapes when they have the perfect balance of acid and sugars for rosé, which is totally different than what you would want for a regular pinot noir. This is an expensive and time consuming way to make rosé …”

Seidenfeld, 36, has been at the winery for nearly a decade, and now he’s the director of winemaking. He graduated from UC Davis in 2006 with a degree in viticulture and enology.

“I’m trying to make a Provencal style rosé, pale in color and full of delicate floral notes, as well as being fresh and vibrant,” Seidenfeld said.

“I like this style because when I drink rosé, it’s what I’m looking for.”

You can reach Wine writer Peg Melnik at or 707-521-5310.

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