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Notes from a tasting of six Iron Horse sparkling wines, Friday, December 12, 2003. The wines were all tasted in a single non-blind flight over a period of six hours.

Overall impressions: each of these wines were very good-excellent, with the Blanc de Blanc and Brut LD at the top of my list. The Brut Rose was a very nice surprise. I had expected something more to the Demi-Sec side of things, but this was quite dry, and brimming with fruit. The Russian Cuvée was equally surprising. Here too, I had expected something less dry. Rather, it smacked of nice lightly jammy Pinot Noir. Finally, the Wedding Cuvée was a very good wine that just seemed to loose its steam a little early-on, fading softly through the finish. I don't know if this is this particular bottling's style, or if it was just the youth of the wine. Either way, I was certainly more enamored with each of the other bottlings.

Tasting Notes

2000 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvée - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Light yellow-gold color, with just a tinge of pink. Nose of light citrus and pear scents, with just a touch of yeast in the background. Nice moutheel, quite smooth - even a bit soft, on the palate, with a light yeasty quality to the medium-long finish. The initial crispness of this wine seemed to fade out a bit toward the latter palate, finishing somewhat softer than expected. Two+ yrs on yeast.
85% Pinot Noir, 15% Chardonnay.

1998 Iron Horse Brut Rosé - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Gorgeous light-medium cranberry color, with just a tinge of amber. The color alone is beautiful. Nose of strawberry, with a light toast and yeast scent. Full bodied in mouthfeel, with a nice complexity of fruit and yeasty/toasty flavors, and a fleshy quality throughout. Very long tasty finish, and delicious aftertaste. Four+ yrs on yeast. Just lovely!
72% Pinot Noir, 28% Chardonnay.

1996 Iron Horse Brut LD - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Light medium yellow color. Toasty and yeasty in the nose, with touches of sweet lemon and lime, and almost an older Riesling scent. Smooth and creamy on the palate, delicious flavors of light lemon curd, with a toasty-nutty milled grain quality to the aftertaste. Very, very smooth throughout the long finish. LD stands for Late Disgorged, and the wine spent six+ yrs on yeast, about 1 year longer than usual. Filled with subtle nuances and beautiful texture!
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay.

Favorites - In Order of Preference
1994 Iron Horse Blanc de Blancs
1996 Iron Horse Brut LD
1998 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut
1998 Iron Horse Brut Rose
1998 Iron Horse Russian Cuvee
2000 Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee

1998 Iron Horse Russian Cuvée - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Light gold in color. Nice yeasty nose, with just a bit of toast and jam in the nose. Off-sweet mouthfeel, and though not quite as dry as a Brut, this wine retains a very nice crispness, and lovely balance. Very tasty throughout the long finish. Four yrs on yeast.
75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay.

1994 Iron Horse Blanc de Blancs - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Medium gold color. Subtle at first, the toasted aromas of freshly baked bread start rising from the glass after a few moments. Fabulously smooth mouthfeel, with lots and lots of toasty and yeasty flavors, and a very smooth long finish. This wine received 20% barrel fermentation in older French oak. Seven+ yrs on yeast, and it shows. Just gorgeous!
100% Chardonnay.

1998 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut - Sonoma County, Green Valley
Medium yellow-gold color. Effusive nose of lemon, ginger and pear, along with a nice touch of yeast. Full bodied, with an excellent balance of toast and yeast flavors. Lightly crisp throughout, yet also has a slightly delicate feeling on the palate. Delicious tasting, with a very long slightly crisp finish. Four yrs on yeast. Very nice!
75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay.

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Last Update 12.16.03