My cousin Leilani (writer of the blog Wine Deviant) decided that since I was in town we should hit up some wineries for tastings. She organised a mini two day sparkling wine tour for us, and today we focused on Sonoma County. Our first stop was J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg. We sampled from their J Sparkling Flight option which included:- 2002 J Vintage Brut Magnum
- 2003 J Vintage Brut Magnum
- 2005 J Vintage Brut
- J Bin 1008, NV Brut
- J Cuvée 20
The woman leading us through the tasting was knowledgeable and even threw in a Brut Rosé for us to sample. Since she provided each sparkling wine in its own glass it allowed us the opportunity to let them breathe and return to each one after it had warmed up (I found it interesting how much more you could smell/taste). My favorite was the 2003 J Vintage Brut Magnum.
Next we drove to the Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, which were established in the late 1800s. Lei and I each chose four different complementary sparkling wines to sample and share:- Le Premier
- Master's Reserve Blanc de Noirs
- Brut (made with organic grapes)
- Chardonnay California Champagne
- Brut Rosé
- Sec Anniversary Cuvée
At this tasting we used the same two glasses throughout so we didn't get the opportunity to go back and compare each one. After finishing we went to their delicatessen for lunch and both ordered the warm pastrami sandwiches and shared a roast vegetable salad. The sandwiches tasted amazing and were perfect for a cold day.
Our last stop was Iron Horse Vineyards in Green Valley. Their tasting room is outside on a hill overlooking the vineyards but undercover with heat lamps to keep you warm. Thankfully the rain held off while we were there. Lei and I shared two of the flight options.Sparkling Flight:
- 2008 Wedding Cuvée
- 2008 Classic Vintage Brut
- 2008 Russian Cuvée
- 2003 Brut LD
- 2006 Brut Rosé
Reserve Sparkling Flight:
- 2007 Ocean Reserve
- 2008 Brut-X
- 2008 Fairy Tale Cuvée (made exclusively for Disney)
- 2004 Chinese Cuvée
- 2008 Winter's Cuvée
I really liked the informal and rustic tasting room which allowed for different groups to chat with each other during their tastings. Unfortunately we once again only had the two tasting glasses, and therefore couldn't really do a full comparison of the sparkling wines. Iron Horse seems to partner with different organisations for limited edition wines, and the Russian Cuvée was originally served at the Reagan Gorbachev summit meetings!
Overall I enjoyed this first day of tastings and learned about the percentage blends of pinot noir and chardonnay that make up different types of sparkling wines, as well as some new terms such as dosage. I am looking forward to tomorrow's trip to Napa.