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Flat front label of wine

Iron Horse T-bar T Benchmark 2002

Bordeaux Red Blends from Sonoma County, California
  • WE94
  • W&S93
0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Benchmark is our finest achievement. The first word that comes to mind to describe this wine is luscious. It 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 Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot - all grown on the T-bar-T Vineyard in the northeast foothills of the Alexander Valley. This release is made entirely from the finest barrels, cherry-picked from the vintage.

Rich, yet superbly elegant, we recommend pan seared lamb chops with turned potatoes and thyme, grilled venison tenderloin with a sauce of sun dried fruit, tian of charred tomatoes and summer vegetables with chevre, red wine braised guinea hen with pancetta and tiny onions, oven roasted sweet peppers stuffed with aged Cheddar and fresh corn.

Critical Acclaim

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WE 94
Wine Enthusiast
W&S 93
Wine & Spirits
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Iron Horse

Iron Horse

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Iron Horse, Sonoma County, California
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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.

Sonoma County

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Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

YNG57226_2002 Item# 84948