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Iron Horse Chardonnay ~ Always a deliciously special treat ~ Part I

Laurence Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards uses the world wide web as it was originally intended, in terms of journaling. Chronicling his vineyard journey, this allows easy access for everyone, including his marketing sister Joy. After the seasons are completed, Joy reflects back on each vintage’s high and low points, with everything in between. This kind of a snapshot is valuable information for understanding each vintage’s uniqueness, and then telling its stories.

SIDEBAR: When I was working with Foppiano Vineyards, I used to marvel at patriarch Lou Foppiano’s dedication to writing the weather of the day on their big desk calendar, through each season. Devotedly writing the temps and weather conditions, this allowed their winemaking team and marketers to assess the year… pre computers.

Joy Sterling, “Looking back at my brother’s blog from 2010, archived on our website, reminded me how dramatically challenging it was and how beautifully the wines turned out, mostly thanks to hard work, dedication and pursuit of excellence by the entire Iron Horse team.”

[Q]  What was 2010 like for you all, Joy?

[Joy]  It was all about unpredictability, proving the value of being estate bottled. We called it the year of the “sort, resort and sort again.” We even pre-sorted. The winery crew, including David [David Munksgard, Winemaker] and Lawrence, went into the vineyards with flashlights before dawn, ahead of the picking crews, to drop fruit we didn’t want harvested. We’re also lucky to be in Sonoma, growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which we had all in before the big October rains.

[Q] What did the harvest deliver for your Chardonnay program?

[Joy]  We bottled six Chardonnays, primarily representing single vineyard blocks on the estate, planting to specific clones. This includes the UnOaked Chardonnay, which comes form 14 acres of Chardonnay planted on our Thomas Road Vineyard. (We also used our Thomas Road Vineyard Chardonnay grapes in our Blanc de Blancs Sparkling, Ocean Reserve.)

[Q]  I really love your Estate Chardonnay. How’s this one created?

[Joy]  The “Estate” is the sole blend of various sites; and, of course, all of our wines are estate. For the Native yeast, Rued, and Heritage Clone Chardonnay, this was our second vintage working with the young, replanted blocks. This was very exciting, because the wines are evolving as we gain experience. The Corral Vineyard has since been pulled out for replanting.

[Q]  Lately, on my blog I’ve been making food recommendations with wines that I’ve been trying, so it will be really fun to begin this process with the six of your Chards. I’m looking forward to getting started.

[Joy]  Well, it’s going to be really easy for you, Jo, because our food and wine pairings are being renewed by chef Ciara Meany. Chef Ciara has created a food and wine tasting experience for our wine club members, and we also have shared those pairings on our tasting notes. We’re so lucky to have Ciara; she graduated first in her class from the Culinary Institute of American at Greystone. We couldn’t be more pleased to have her on board with this project.

… Life’s now easy for me in the 2012 Iron Horse Chardonnay department, so I got started…

UPDATE: Part II was going to be today, when I wrote, “Tomorrow, the results… Stay tuned for details.” Because Ed King of King Estate died, it changed my day for finalizing the story. The story is now scheduled to launch on Monday, June 11. (thanks for your patience.)

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