Founded by Audrey and Barry Sterling, the Iron Horse winery is a small, independent and family-owned operation, which officially opened its doors in 1979. What drew the Sterlings to the Green Valley––a subregion of the Russian River Valley––was the cool and foggy rolling hills that they knew would be well suited for growing high-quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition to Iron Horse’s standard cuvées, the winery also produces a limited number of special bottlings for establishments such as Disney and Michael Mina. According to the winery, Iron Horse sparkling wines have been served at the White House for the past five consecutive presidential administrations. For a full list of reviewed Iron Horse wines, be sure to check out our Iron Horse Ratings.
This multivintage bottling is extraordinarily rich in orange fruit. You’ll find complex layers of smoky butter, yeasty brioche, vanilla and toasted oak. What’s so remarkable, though, is the mouthfeel: While it’s brisk in acidity, it feels as soft and gentle as satin. It’s so beautiful now that you’ll find it difficult to keep from drinking the entire magnum immediately.
A triumph, really. Held back for 14 years and just recently disgorged, it’s fantastically rich and complex, just oozing the most delicious orange, butterscotch, yeast and toast flavors. So silky, so sweet in fruit, and yet with a dry finish. Stands out in any tasting of the best sparklers. Hard to imagine a California bubbly better than this.
Made from equal amounts of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, this wine was aged on the lees for more than four years, which gives it a fabulous creamy, yeasty complexity. There are tantalizing flavors of limes, orange zest, roasted hazelnuts, minerals and smoke. Absolutely wonderful now, and should hold and develop in the bottle through 2014, at least. Only 563 cases produced.
This is a gorgeous wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It’s light and delicate, but powerful, and boasts delicious cherry pie, cassis, cocoa, char and spice flavors. It possesses the kind of tannins that are soft and sweet now, but firm enough to hold the wine for many years. Best now, or anytime through 2015.
Marked by its soft, mousse-like refinement, this sparkling wine is sheer silk and satin in the mouth. On the palate, the raspberry, lime and vanilla flavors are subtle, while leesy doughiness and oakiness bring a touch of smoke. This is a beautiful wine for a celebratory toast, or to enjoy with lobster, crab or scallops. It would also perfect a weekend brunch…
The virtues of this 100% Chardonnay are its elegance, cleanliness, brightness and the sheer pleasure it offers. It’s so refined and complex, offering flavors of Meyer lemons, Kaffir limes, brioche and smoky vanilla that change endlessly in the glass. Just fabulous, and a terrifically versatile food wine.
No doubt about it, this is a big, lusty Pinot Noir. From a low-production parcel of the estate, it routinely produces immensely concentrated wines. The winemaker’s challenge is to give balance and harmony to grapes of this heft, and here, Iron Horse has it figured out. Dry and enormously ripe in cherries, black raspberries, cocoa and cola, it’s good now with lamb…
Great depth and purity of fruit. It shines with lovely violet and lavender accents. Very dark cassis, black plum, coffee and toasty oak flavors, with handsome herb and spice accents. The mouthfeel is excellent—big, but almost perfectly balanced between lush richness and solid tannic structure. A keeper needing four to six years.