One of the highlights of this semester was the SSU Wine Club tasting with Iron Horse Vineyards located in the Green Valley AVA of Sonoma County. Green Valley is a small special section of the Russian River Valley which has a cooler climate and more fog than surrounding areas. Located just 13 miles from the Pacific Ocean, it is an ideal place to grow chardonnay and pinot noir. Iron Horse is one of the largest of the 8 wineries in this appellation, and has become quite famous for its sparkling wines.
The wine tasting was hosted by Joy Sterling, CEO of the winery. According to one participant, “Joy has the most amazing charisma and was really able to relate to the students.” Joy described the vineyards, winemaking, and told great stories about happenings at the winery.
Six different wines were tasted, but the two favorites of the evening were a sparkling and a chardonnay. Coming in first place with the most votes was the 2004 Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut ($33) with a rich creamy mouth feel, citrus and a yeasty brioche finish with crisp acidity. It is a blend of 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay, and was aged 4 years on the lees. Joy said it would pair quite well with sushi and other spicy foods.
The second favorite was the 2007 Iron Horse UnOaked Chardonnay ($26) which had an intense minerality and a wonderful hint of mandarin orange. Very fruity, but with good texture due to time spent on lees….and no oak! Joy suggested pairing this was salad, shrimp, or pasta with white sauce.
For more information on Iron Horse Vineyards and their wines, see: http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com/