I can’t think of a better way to introduce this wine than with the story of how it got its name…
From Yorkville Cellars Founder, Ed Wallo:
Richard I was the King of England from 1189-1199. Along with the kingship of England, Richard also inherited Dukedoms and Counties across Europe too numerous to list here, one of which was Aquitaine, known to us in modern times as Bordeaux, in the south west of France. Richard is famous for spending very little time in England, preferring to spend most of his time fighting. However, he understood that his war machine required one very important thing: top quality wine.
In 1199 Richard signed a charter that granted, for the first time, self governance to a group of the King’s subjects. The city of Saint-Émilion on the Gironde River, just northeast of what is now the city of Bordeaux, received the right to govern itself in exchange for quality-control checking every barrel of wine that was shipped from their port to Richard’s troops. If the sampled barrel passed the taste test, the side was burned with the King’s royal seal. If it didn’t, it was hurled into the river.
The six Noble Red grapes that were planted in Richard’s time are some of the same ones we have planted in our vineyard at Yorkville today. Those same varietals all blended together (as in this blend) was the wine Richard, with his refined palate, was gulping down after the heat of battle.
Cool story, no? So let us taste with our refined palates, this most royal of red blends…
One hundred percent bottlings of Petit Verdot are hard to find — and I love a good Petit Verdot. It has to be my favorite of the main Bordeaux varietals. While traditionally blended with the other noble grapes (usually in small amounts, predominantly for a touch of texture and added color), it seems more vintners are finding the beauty in what this grape has to say when on its own. So any chance I have to taste a single varietal bottling of PV, I take it. This is my first dive into PV from Mendocino County, and it seems — based on this tasting — the Yorkville Highlands AVA has quite a unique affect on this royal red grape.
Yorkville Cellars may seem a bit of a secret. Indeed, the Yorkville Highlands AVA itself is a bit of a hidden gem, found squeezed between Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley AVA and Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley AVA. Only one percent of Yorkville’s 40,000 acres is planted to vines, but amongst that one percent are 21 different grape varieties. Yorkville Cellars is one of the 25 wineries found in this mountainous region and the only one growing all eight main Bordeaux grapes and producing them as varietal wine. Who likes Cab Franc?
When I spoke with Ed Wallo about tasting his wines, I noticed that he has a tendency toward the unusual — 100% bottlings of odd varietals; orange wine; and sparkling…Malbec??? I rarely drink Malbec as it is, so the prospect of tasting a sparkling Malbec intrigued and excited me. The classically rustic red wine is known to pair with bold flavors (Steak and chimichurri anyone?), yet sparkling wines and rosés are usually paired with lighter fare. (Where’s my cheese board?). Well, I did both. So let’s see what a sparkling Malbec tastes like and what kind of food it likes best.
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!