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Iron Horse T bar T Benchmark 1999

Bordeaux Red Blends from Sonoma County, California
  • WE94
  • W&S93
  • RP90
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Winemaker Notes

The first word that comes to mind to describe this wine is luscious. This proprietary blend has exquisite fruit and soft, silky tannins. Both qualities speak to the wine's roots in the Alexander Valley. The blend is Cabernet Sauvignon with 12 percent Merlot and 12 percent Cabernet Franc - all grown on Forrest Tancer's T-bar-T vineyard in the northeast foothills of the Alexander Valley. The percentages are identical to the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon, but like two diamonds of the same size and carat weight … this release is the more dazzling because it is made entirely from the finest barrels cherry picked from the vintage.

Food Pairing: Sliced New York strip steak, pepper steak with french fries, grilled rack of venison served with a fresh onion tart, blue cheeses like our current favorite Humbolt Fog.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
WE 94
Wine Enthusiast

W&S 93
Wine & Spirits

RP 90
The Wine Advocate

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Iron Horse

Iron Horse

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Iron Horse, , California
Iron Horse
A pioneer in the Green Valley appellation within the Russian River area of Sonoma County, the Iron Horse family is building a legacy of prestige sparkling wines and elegant estate-bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir within a "holistic" environment of natural balance, cultivation and love of the land.

Iron Horse is best known for its Sparkling Wines, which have been served at the White House since 1985, beginning with the historic U.S.-Russian Summit Meetings ending the Cold War, at the White House Millennium celebrations ushering in the new century, and at the White House dinner honoring the Pope.

Their Chardonnay is considered a signature wine for the cool, foggy Green Valley region. Pinot Noir is the winery's rising star wine.

Iron Horse has been named an American icon in a reference book published by Random House called "Icons of the American Market Place". Listed in alphabetical order, Iron Horse takes its place between iPod and Jack Daniel’s, validating Iron Horse’s reputation as a brand backed by pride, passion and quality.

The Iron Horse name came from a train that cut across the property in the 1890s. The logo, the rampant horse on a weather vane, came from a 19th century weathervane found while clearing away the rubble to build the winery.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.

In the Glass

Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.

Perfect Pairings

Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.

Sommelier Secret

Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

YNG192020_1999 Item# 51393

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