The minute you think Iron Horse, you immediately think sparkling wine. Tell someone that’s what you’re sipping, and they know you’ve got quality bubbles in the glass. But the winery is more than a big Napa name: they give back to the community — in this case the ocean community. Four dollars of every bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve goes toward the National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative, establishing marine protected areas and supporting sustainable fishing practices around the globe.

I hope this isn’t untoward — but I did pair this wine with a (sustainable) fish dish!

About the Wine: The Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from Sonoma County’s Green Valley AVA. The grapes were pressed whole-cluster and went through primary fermentation in oak, sur lies with regular battonage.

13.5% ABV

Flavor Profile: Pop the cork on this Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve and there’s just the fresh aromas of citrus fruit hanging on the trees, complete with fully-bloomed blossoms. There’s not a yeasty aroma to be found. The wine presents nearly clear on the pour; in the glass it is the most subtle shade of champagne.

Initial aromas are certainly of that citrus, but add to it a bit of pollen from those blossoms, a slight nuttines, and a background of butter. Swirl, and release a delicate floral perfume. Pull the nose away and find the addition of pomme fruits like red apple and white pear.

The body of this sparkling wine is very light, but it immediately presents powerful fruit flavors. And those fruits continue to come more and more forward as the tasting progresses, leading to an almost sour finish. If you hold the blanc de blanc in your mouth for a bit, you’ll find a bit of substance in the form of raw nut meat (like the flesh of a coconut) as well as some crusty french bread notes.

Food Pairing: I paired the Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve with a baked halibut filet, curry-spiced mango purée, and a coconut cauliflower “rice” pilaf. This wine needed this food pairing: The spice in the mango purée perfectly cut through those dominant fruit flavors; the coconut rice calmed down the acidity, and the halibut — which was baked with a bit of butter — lended a smoother mouthfeel. Perfect pairing full-stop.

I will note that, to my palate, the Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve was just a tad too fruit forward for me. And, while it certainly is still considered a dry wine, those excessive fruit notes could be perceived as sweetness to some. That being said, I much more enjoyed this wine with the meal than I did on its own.

More Info: I received the Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve as a sample for review. (Cheers Shana!) Retail: $50. For more information about Iron Horse, their wines, and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Iron Horse Vineyards website.


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