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Bubbly Wine,Russian River Valley,Sonoma,Sparkling,Wine,Wine tasting,Winery

Putting the “Joy” into Sparkling Wines ~ Iron Horse Vineyards ~ Part 1

What a joy Joy has been for me. Her parents aptly named her.

Earlier this year I got to taste and enjoy her family’s newly released Iron Horse Vineyards Chardonnays, calling the blog post Tasting Through Sterling Chardonnays. Now, their newly released sparkling wines arrived on my doorstep, marking August 11, 2011 as the official time when the fun really began to close out 2011 for me… and with loads of bubbles.

First of all, I discovered a Magnum bottle of Joy. This 1997 Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine disgorged on July 31, 2011, is a multi-vintage, limited production, prestige Sparkler that’s produced exclusively in magnums. It ranges in age from 10 to 15 years on the yeast in the bottle. On the back label it read: “This makes the wine irresistibly rich and bubbly, like the name.” (I can hardly wait.)

This one won’t/can’t be opened for simple enjoyment, so forgive me, Joy. After the holidays this year, I’ll report back to you on how special it was, and I’ll have a Thanksgiving table completely dressed to showcase what was to come.

Next came seven sparkling wines, each with a different focus, and each with its own story to tell. One can only imagine how much more time consuming, labor intensive, and meticulous this kind of presentation and way of doing business must be. Being such a small winery, Iron Horse could simply blend their vineyard sources into one release, and just get on with the business of doing sales. That, however, isn’t the route they’ve chosen.

What follows is Iron Horse’s newly released bubbly wines, all perfect for going into the last trimester of the year.

Which one to chill first?

Just as I did with the Chardonnays that I tasted, there was absolutely no way that I was going to open all of these wines, for the sake of compare and contrast. I can do that any day of the week at Iron Horse. It’s only about 20 to 30 minutes from my home.

Nay… these wines each deserve to be sipped and savored, enjoyed with great food and lots of camaraderie. I put my hand into the box, and pulled out the 2006 Iron Horse Brut Rosé. That same day, I also knew that I had had enough of taking care of everyone else, and knew that it was time for others to take care of me… So, that one was taken to Chinois Asian Bistro. I wanted to also share it with my good friend Chang Liow, the owner/chef/sommelier. Chang loves to taste wines with us, and I love enjoying his dishes.

  • 2006 Iron Horse Brut Rosé ~ Jose and I enjoyed this Brut Rosé with dinner at Chinois, and Chang did join us. I enjoyed it with their Asian Pot Stickers , served with balsamic citrus-soy sauce sprinkled with toasted chili flakes. (Yum!) ($50.00)
    • The wine had aromas of raspberries from this richly colored rosé (having sat on the skins for an extended period of time). That then gave way to strawberries and plum flavors, and it had a delicate summer fruit finish, with a bit of pepper spice. All so good!
  • 2006 Iron Horse Russian Cuveé ~ This one was enjoyed on a Saturday afternoon, while spending the day catching up on my blog. I like to be ahead by a couple of weeks with stories, but the summer delivers too many playing opportunities, and my writing fell a bit behind. (This is why I enjoy writing in advance, so when play time arrives, I can partake with no worries.) I popped some corn and added some butter… Oh, yeah, decadent and sinful, and popped the cork. ($38.00)
    • This sparkling wine was gloriously refreshing, and took away the guilt of pairing it with popcorn. It’s 75 percent Pinot Noir and 25 percent Chardonnay. The caramel and vanilla on the nose led to a rich, creamy palate. The White House served this one with Pecan Pie for the Queen Mother. I felt like a queen with my bubbly and popcorn on a late Saturday afternoon.
  • 2006 Iron Horse Brut X ~ “Brut X means extremely dry, extremely bright, extremely expressive. The doasge is under 0.5% residual sugar – barely perceptible, but adds just the right amount of ‘polish’.” ($50.00)
    • What a beautiful Sunday wine. I opened it on Saturday, before I left the house with Jose to go interview Joel Peterson of Ravenswood. It was so dry… Hey, Brut X tells you all you need to know about it, as regards what this wine is going to taste like. Dry, baby… desert. After tasting it, I got to thinking, “What foods would I pair with that?” All I could think of was something creamy or cheesy, and off I went to Sonoma to meet Joel.
    • Today’s Sunday (as I write about this one), and I was hungry. “How to best use that Brut X?” I went for cooking a quick hamburger lunch. (Hey, I wouldn’t do this any other time with this wine, but I feel it’s important to taste each of these sparkling wines in a somewhat timely way). So, I loaded the cheeseburger, on oat grain bread with purple onions, rich, ripe tomatoes, red leafy lettuce, and gooey mozzarella. Jose and I were dripping with richness, satisfying it with delicious Classic Brut X. From there I got into house cleaning, listening to Hip-Hop and R&B… finding myself dancing and wanting to share how great this wine is …  Now that I think about it, this was a perfect sparkling wine for just enjoying this Sunday.
  • 2006 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut ~ “…is a ‘classic’ blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, ‘vintage’ quality in every sense of the word and ‘brut’ level dry. All Iron Horse Sparkling Wines are disgorged to order, which means that this release is aged four years on the yeast making it rich, creamy and delicious.” ($34.00)
    • This sparkling wine reminded me of days when I lived in Maine, and I’d gather up all my Girl Scouts and head to an orchard. We’d pick (and eat) fresh apples from heavily laden trees… Yup, it was that fresh, clean, and delicious. This Brut changed a working Saturday for me into a day of delicious moments. While Iron Horse wines should be for very special moments, given all the care and attention to detail they take to make them, every-so-often, it’s delicious to  just treat yourself. That’s what the Classic Vintage Brut became… Special writing moments. I wrote with great joy for the rest of the day.
  • 2007 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée ~ “…is without doubt the most romantic of our Sparklings. Made from predominantly Pinot Noir, it has an exhilarating rose color. The 2007 vintage is elegant, vibrant and creamy. Truly, a fun wine. Aged three plus years en tirage.” ($38.00)
    • This sparkling wine is as pink as a blushing bride. (Do they even blush, anymore?) The rush of tiny bubbles was balanced by listening to On The West Side, by Jeff Golub… A perfect mood setter for my palate. Lots of strawberry on a white wedding cake with marzipan flowers, it just tastes that perfect…. This one would be delicious with fresh vegetables drizzled with garlic infused olive oil, fresh oregano, a squirt of lime, and a sprinkle of sea salt (and some of that cake would be very lovely as a reward for the veggies). Heavenly…

I have more to report on for wines… For now, I want this look at the Sterling newly released sparklers to enjoy their review on the Internet super highway. I’ll be back with the following soon:

  • 2003 Iron Horse Brut LD ~ “LD stands for Late Disgorged. The 2003 Brut was aged for 8+ years on the yeast in the bottle. From Iron Horse, “Longer time on the yeast gives the wine a creamy mouth feel, balanced by an unexpected underlying youthfulness… This is our Têté de Cuvée and while we call it Brut, given the very low dosage we could have called it ‘Extra’ Brut LD.” ($85.00)
  • 2006 Iron Horse Ocean Reserve ~ “The Ocean is the source of food, rain, oxygen and beauty. But today, pollution, overfishing and climate change have placed the ocean in crisis. Here is a sip of hope. Iron Horse Vineyards is partnering with National Geographic to help restore the ocean to health. Continuing our commitment, every bottle purchased Iron Horse will donate $4 to establish marine protection areas and reduce overfishing around the world.” ($40.00)
  • 2007 Iron Horse Joy ! ~ “Joy! is produced exclusively in magnums. The current Joy! is 100 percent Chardonnay, 13 plus years on the yeast int he bottle. A gorgeous combination of elegance, refinement and power. Each bottle is labeled with the disgorgement date.” Only 300 magnums exist…Now, only 299, thank you very much!($179.00)
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3 Responses to “Putting the “Joy” into Sparkling Wines ~ Iron Horse Vineyards ~ Part 1”

  1. Sondra says:

    Jo, sounds like you’ve had a tough two weeks – hard work that someone’s got to do! joyful!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Sondra, the universe delivers joyful assignments, just at the point when I most need them.

    We should get together to share the Brut LD, and celebrate your book having gone to the publishers! I think that would be a perfect use of htis wine. When are you open?

  3. […] Last year: Putting the “Joy” into Sparkling Wines ~ Iron Horse Vineyards […]

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