Creep It Real – Rodney Strong Wine Dinner

When Randy’s Steakhouse announced its October Wine Dinner – I really couldn’t believe it. Firstly, the title was “Creep it Real” and secondly, costumes were encouraged. The fact that the winery was Rodney Strong was a bonus.

I learned some interesting tidbits about the winery from Kevin the rep, who tried really hard to keep a straight face as he tried to figure out if I had on a costume or not. Well, when you’re Abby and your husband is Gibbs, it does look a bit like one of you didn’t dress up – or one of you dresses like a goth daily.

The most interesting thing I learned was that before starting the winery Rodney Strong was a dancer. The winery is about 800 acres and was sold to the Kline family in the 1980s.

Reception: Randy’s Hors D’oeuvres

Rodney Strong, Rose  of Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, California  

This wine rivals Abby’s Caf-Pow for sweet-tart-ness. It has an intense citrus flavor that is tangy. But it has both a floral smell and that of a smartie (yes, the candy). You get a pluot flavor on its own. (Pluot – you know the funky plum apricot things…) It really needs food.

The cheese stuffed jalapeño was worse than the one in September…. the spice could have killed the taste of everything, but it brought out the sweet of the wine, but the smoky bacon really smoothed out the wine.

The wine went really well with the tomato, basil and mozzarella skewer. My husband said the basil brought out the grassiness of the wine, while I thought the spices on the cheese really came out because of the wine.

The biscuit brought out the fruitiness of the wine and the salami rose went well too.

So, while this isn’t my favorite rosé, it was definitely a Monday/Tuesday wine.

First Course: Creole Corn & Crab Bisque

Rodney Strong, Chardonnay, Chalk Hill, California  

Chalk Hill is actually its own AVA in Sonoma County. Something I didn’t know prior to this dinner.

I thought the Chardonnay smelled like marshmallows, while my husband said buttered lobster. He meant the first taste – and I’d agree. It did have a very buttery and somewhat oaky taste.

The soup removed the oak for me, but the spice in the soup brought out the tart in the wine.

It’s a typical California Chardonnay – very drinkable in a Wednesday night sort of way.

We decided this wine was best suited for DiNozzo Senior – it’s a classy look and taste with an “old world feel” but affordable enough you could buy for the whole bar…. If you’re an NCIS fan, you’ll know what I mean.

Second Course: Polenta Rounds Topped With Beef, Mushrooms & Spinach 

Rodney Strong, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, California  

I said this wine had a raspberry scent. My husband corrected me and said Razzleberry. I conceded with “petroleum razzleberry.”

But while this is a Wednesday Pinot – it needs food. I wouldn’t sit around and just sip on it. It was good enough to finish the glass rather than just put it to the side.

The mushrooms brought out the spice and it went well with the polenta. We both felt that while the balsamic sweetened the wine, we would have skipped it.

This is Tim McGee – it’s a solid red, rather unassuming and blends in – kinda like Tim.

It’s actually a good gift wine – you really can’t go wrong with giving this wine. I wouldn’t sit and sip it, but my husband would. It will go with most food and most people will like it, plus has a nice price point.

Entrée: Blue Cheese Filet with Truffle Mashed Potatoes & Sauteed Broccoli 

Rodney Strong, Cabernet Sauvignon, Knight’s Valley, California  

I have limited notes on this wine, mostly because I was truly enjoying it with the truffled potatoes way too much. It went well with the steak, but did I mention it was amazing with the potatoes?

Oddly, the wine evoked a memory for my husband of high school when the belt melted on his vintage Monte Carlo… While we both agreed the scent wasn’t a pleasant one, we appreciate any wine that evokes a memory.

We decided this wine was perfect for Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo to use to impress his one time true love Jeanne Benoit. I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the show – but even her dad La Grenouille – René – would approve of the California cabernet, despite his French roots.

Did I mention this Thursday wine was amazing with the truffle mashed potatoes?

Dessert: Chocolate Cherry Candy Cake 

Chocolate Covered Cherry Martini

Personally, I didn’t like either of these options, which is really odd. Normally I love chocolate and cherry togehter.

Now, the cake had an amazing chocolate ganache on it, but the filling was straight out of my great-grandmother’s cookbook – some sort of cherry/cream gelatin concoction.

Maybe I’ve just been spoiled recently with some really good portejas wines or other wines that go well with desserts. Truthfully the Randy Alexander (his take on the Brandy Alexander) would have been better, or maybe a Cerise Cocktail (brandy and cherry juice).

Final Thoughts

Yes, my husband observed Gibbs rule number 9: Never go anywhere without a knife, but was the perfect Southern gentleman he’s become and used his steak knife after I snapped a photo. (Yes, the wine rep (in the background) was slightly appalled… oh well, a girl has got to have fun when she can….)

You can see more of the crowd on Randy’s Facebook page (here), including the pair that won the costume contest or Abby & Gibbs here, or pop over to my Instagram (here) to see the full outfit. If you aren’t following me yet, click follow, I post more of the artsy shots and spontaneous ones there.

Overall, a great (fun) dinner with some good California wines, that as the rep said – were made to be enjoyed with friends because of their taste and price point.

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