Iron Horse Vineyards
2002 Classic Vintage Brut
Pinot Noir - Chardonnay •Green Valley
California: Sonoma County
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s sparkling wine from Iron Horse Vineyards.
TOP SECRET SPECIAL: Free Shipping on orders of six or more bottles. Use the promotion code BRUTSPY during checkout.
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT: Today’s bubbly is fan-tas-tic! If you love French Champagne, but prefer the flavors of California fruit, we invite you to be blown away by this wonderful sparkling wine
Mission Codename: Post-Tax Party Time
Operative: Agent Sparkle
Objective: Tax time is behind us! Secure a celebratory bubbly for our Operatives – and make Agent Red suffer (just a little) in the process
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Iron Horse Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2002 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut
Winemaker: David Munksgard
Backgrounder: Our Operatives are diligent about paying their taxes on time, but they are equally diligent about celebrating their victorious missions. For today’s selection, we sent Agent Sparkle to Iron horse Vineyards to secure a cache of their stupendous 2002 Class Vintage Brut, a sparkling wine that she declares her favorite bubbly tasted this year! Read her detailed tasting notes and mission report below
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful golden and glittery with the most vigorous and energetic bubbles I have ever seen in a bubbly
Smell – Bright and fresh with big aromatic green apple, pear, fresh-cut summer grass with a hint of white peach
Feel – Even though the bubbles in this sparkling wine are so vigorous, the feel is surprisingly round and smooth, with an especially pronounced roundness on the mid-palate
Taste – Delicious, with bright flavors of citrus (particularly a pronounced pink grapefruit), grannysmith apple, slate and a hint of fresh Asian mango
Finish – Long and very complex with layer upon layer of flavors that feel off, one after the other
Conclusion – This is a really superb and delightful bubbly that is sure to please even the most staunch fan of classic French Champagne. This wine certainly has French characteristics, but the fruit here is unmistakably Sonoma County – with a fruit and flavor profile that I prefer over “the French stuff”. What we have here is a sparkling wine that has a big, bold and bright quality to it – without being brash or hard-edged at all. Instead, this is a sparkling wine that presents itself as a fun to drink and flavorful romp of a wine that does not lack quality or the refinement sometimes missing from Cali bubbly!
Follow-on Observation – Because Agent Red is such a huge fan of decanting, I decided to conduct an experiment: I left a bottle of this sparkling wine open overnight on my Wine Diagnostic Station. I fully expected the wine to be flat and maybe even spoiled when I tried it nearly 24-hours later. Surprise! It was still extremely effervescent and very delicious, even at room temperature! If you’ve had a similar experience with a sparkling wine, please write to me
Not to brag, but I filed my taxes a few weeks ago. Agent Red, on the other hand, got his filed at a few strokes before midnight.
Whew! Now that was a close call!
Those of you that know Agent Red, know him as a model of efficiency. This year, despite my having bribed him with the promise of a nicely chilled bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards 2002 Classic Vintage Brut, he didn’t file his taxes until the last possible second. You see, we have been keeping him plenty busy with missions. This, as evidenced by the incredible volume of great wines he has been bringing us.
Here is the conversation that ensued just after midnight on April 15th:
Agent Red: Wow, I just made it. I got my taxes filed just in time! Now, where’s that Iron Horse bubbly you promised? It’s time to celebrate!
Agent Sparkle: Sorry. Drank it.
Red froze. After a moment his lip gave a slight quiver and a tiny bead of sweat ran down his forehead. I live for these moments!
Agent Red: D-drank it? Honest?
Agent Sparkle: You know what? It was the best sparkling wine I have tasted so far in 2008. It beat the pants off of any French bubbly I have tasted in recent memory as well. It was crisp, delicious and really fun.
Red’s face sagged. I should probably have let him off the hook. Then again…
Agent Red: Fun?
Agent Sparkle: Talk about great bubbles! I have never seen so many bubbles, all of them moving at different speeds. Don’t even get me started on the crisp flavors, the great moth-feel or the wonderful finish. I have to say that the folks at Iron Horse are my new heroes!
By this point, Agent Red had slumped himself down in my office chair, utterly dejected. Now might have been the time to let up, but such an opportunity is rare at Wine Spies Central Command.
Agent Sparkle: Also, we tried this bubbly with practically everything!
Agent Red: We?
Agent Sparkle: Oh, yeah, Agent White, Agent Blush, Agent Pinot Noir, Agent Grenache, Agent Zin… We were all here just a few days ago while you were on that last mission of yours.
Agent Red: Oh.
Agent Sparkle: Yeah, sorry about the rain, by the way, and your flat tire. While you were away, we had a great time and there wasn’t a food that we paired with that didn’t work. Iron horse call this sparkling wine the ultimate food wine, and I have to agree.
Red shut his eye. The redness in his face told me that I’d better act fast.
Red looked up instantly… and saw the rest of us beaming at him. My fellow Agents had been hiding in an adjoining office, listening in on my torture of Agent Red. The bottle of Iron Horse Vintage Brut in my hand was overflowing with bubbles.
Red paused for a moment. It almost looked as though he were about to cry. Instead, he leaped from his chair, grabbed me in a great bear hug and snatched away the bottle from my hands.
The laughter and celebration that ensued was wonderful, and the evening was heightened immensely by Iron Horse’s incredible bubbly!
Be sure to grab up your allotment early. We expect that other Operatives will be stockpiling this wine for future celebrations.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Iron Horse Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
A detailed Iron Horse Vineyards block map can be seen in this Top Secret document
What the winery says
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Awards & Accolades:
The current vintage was awarded 91 points by Wine & Spirits and was named one of their top 100 wines of the year. The 2001 vintage was awarded 93 points by Wine & Spirits and was recommended by Gourmet Magazine for holiday entertaining. The prior vintage was the toasting wine at the grand re-opening of the re-designed De Young museum in San Francisco. It earned 88 points in Spectator. The 1999 received a 90-point rating in Wine Enthusiast.
About This Wine:
The most traditional of the Iron Horse Sparklings. A classy blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, aged an average of four years on the yeast in the bottle. Wonderfully rich and creamy, it sends all kinds of memory bells that say “champagne”, though the fruit is unmistakably Sonoma County-Green Valley. It is vintage quality in every sense of the word.
Winemaker’s Tasting Notes:
Bold, rich, creamy and delicious, this is the most “classic” of our Sparklings. It is a traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s refinement and finesse send off memory bells that say “champagne,” though the bright fruit is unmistakably Sonoma County – Green Valley. It is “vintage” quality in every sense of the word.
The ultimate food wine. Goes with everything—sushi, fried, salty and spicy dishes, rich chicken soup (guaranteed to cure whatever ails you), with popcorn on movie night. The best no-fat dessert is Brut and fruit – a handful of fresh berries in summer or sliced mango in winter.
About The Vineyard:
The Pinot Noir for our Sparklings tend to come from the oldest vines in the cooler, low lying areas of the property where the fog settles, extending the length of time the grapes hang on the vine developing, great flavor and character. The Chardonnay for our Sparklings comes primarily from our Thomas Road Vineyard planted to a specific clone (Clone 4), which has the best berry size to make the most delicate juice with the most intense flavor and character.
Alcohol: 13% v/v
Blend: 70% Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay
Acidity: 0.73 g/100ml
Malolactic Fermentation: None
Date Bottled: June 2003
Release Date: 1st Disgorging April 2006
Residual Sugar: 0.6 g/100ml
Total Production: 3,500 cases
Time en Tirage: Four years on the yeast
Suggested Retail Price: $31/bottle