Benziger has a long-standing family reputation in Sonoma. The family made the migration to California’s northern wine country when it was still had its “wild west” status and together groomed the land to make some top quality wines. Since 2000, all four of Benziger’s estate vineyards have been officially certified Biodynamic, meaning they’ve eliminated the use of all synthetic materials, encourage biodiversity in the field, and nurture a closed nutrient system. The effects? Well let’s have a taste and see, shall we?
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!
This is not a Chinese wine. I’m just putting that out there because when I first received this wine I completely thought Iron Horse went rogue in China. They did not. In fact, this bottle was made to celebrate the Chinese Zodiac — 2018 is the year of the dog. Despite this not being a Chinese wine, I did pair this with a Chinese-inspired recipe…
I walked into the Selby tasting room in downtown Healdsburg not really knowing anything about it. I’d heard great things, and I’d walked by the tasting room on more than one occasion — and kept on walking simply because it was packed. And now I know why.
Selby Winery was founded in 1994 by Susie Selby and her father David. For most of those first years the winery was a bit of a “side project:” David lived predominantly in Dallas with his wife; Susie worked as an assistant winemaker for a larger company. It wasn’t until David’s death in 1997 that Susie went full-force into Selby, making what was once her father’s pipe dream into a real wine country reality. Today Selby Winery makes sixteen different varietal and Susie is still at the head of the helm — taking on no partners or investors.
“Enjoy wine; enjoy life” is Susie’s motto and, indeed, it shows in her wines. Go to the tasting room and pick any varietal you like — they all just taste like they’re handcrafted with passion. I wanted to leave Selby with a bottle of everything. But I showed restraint and picked just one — this 2014 Dry Creek Grenache.
I was introduced to MacLaren by winemaker and good friend Cindy Cosco of Passaggio. After visiting her tasting room in the Sonoma Square, she literally took me by the hand and walked me just a few doors down. Who could escape a recommendation like that? Needless to say — though I’ll say it anyway — I wasn’t disappointed. Their focus is single-vineyard expressions of single varietals. And while their Pinot Noir was memorable, their Sauvignon Blanc as dry as I like it, it was their Syrah that was the real standout. If you’ve never experienced a Syrah tasting where the only difference is the specific vineyard source, I highly recommend it. You’ll be amazed at the different ways the grape can express itself even within the same
AVA. And with four Syrahs on their current release list, MacLaren is the perfect place to conduct this wine-nerdy experiment. I did, and I couldn’t walk away without this 2012 Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah.