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Sonoma

Bubbly Events, Sparkling Wine

Iron Horse Harvest 2012 – Join the Party

September 18, 2012
iron_horse_party_trifle_tray

You couldn’t have asked for a more picture-perfect day than Sunday when Iron Horse Vineyards celebrated the 2012 harvest. It was a sunny 80 degree day, with hardly a cloud in the sky — I even spotted a young deer lurking near a twisted oak as I drove up the 101.

What I love about Iron Horse is that it’s one of the few places that you can have a rustic and natural experience, all the while sipping an exquisite glass of méthode champenoise sparkling wine.

Sometimes pictures tell a story better than words… so here are some images that capture the effervescence of Sunday’s party.

After parking under oak trees, we walked up a pathway lined with zinnias in decorate bubbly bottles.

At the end of the walk, guests were greeted with an Iron Harvest harvest cocktail of fresh pinot noir juice in the 2007 Brut X.

After noshing at Chef Ciara Meany’s bruschetta bar filled with grilled Costeaux French Bakery ciabatta, heirloom tomates from Barry Sterling’s garden, pesto, grilled bacon and other seasonal toppings, we sat down at two long tables set in a V-shape. Joy Sterling, president of Iron Horse, praised her brother Lawrence for his work running the winery, toasted her parents on the occasions of their 60th anniversary and thanked friends and Corral Club members for coming.

 

I loved the simple place settings topped with sprigs of lavender, the plates that look like this season’s fashionable jacquard prints and the Laguiole-inspired cutlery.

The first course was a lovely salad of fresh field greens — again from the estate garden — topped with pickled radishes, roasted sweet corn and Laura Chenel goat cheese followed by a delicious grilled quail stuffed with Swiss chard and sausage.

Dessert was a petite cup of trifle layered with late summer apples, vanilla cream and amaretti crumbles paired with a glass of Russian Cuvée.

Food + Recipes, Sparkling Wine

Got Peaches? Try this “Bellini” Sorbet Recipe from Zazu

July 31, 2012
girl_holding_peach

Ripe peaches and Moscato sparkling wine make a deliciously fresh and light Bellini summer sorbet.

A couple summers ago dining with friends at Zazu in Santa Rosa, I spotted this recipe on the wall. I snapped a picture of it, so I could try it during peach season.

Duskie Estes and John Stewart, the chefs of Italian inspired Zazu, are known for their way with pork and Black pig bacon. But they also make crazy-good wood-fired pizzas, seasonal pastas and desserts.

Technically, a Bellini is made with white peaches and prosecco, the light and fresh tasting dry sparkling wine from the Veneto. (Click to read more about prosecco on The Bubbly Girl.com.) This recipe features Moscato d’Asti, another popular Italian sparkling wine that’s sweeter and less bubbly.

Since Moscato naturally and has flavors and aromas of peaches and apricots, I’m guessing that’s why the Duskie and John chose it for this sorbet. They suggest their favorite Bonny Doon Moscato del Solo, but it can be made with any good quality Moscato.

I spotted this Bellini Sorbet recipe on the wall at Zazu Restaurant in Santa Rosa.

Zazu Bellini Sorbet

1-1/4 pounds ripe white peaches
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Moscato d’Asti

Peel the peaches with a small knife. Combine the peaches, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor bowl. Process until you have a smooth purée. Stir in the Moscato. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions or freeze in a shallow pan and fluff up every hour or so using the granita method.

Recipe courtesy John Stewart and Duskie Estes of Zazu Restaurant.

© 2012 Maria C. Hunt, aka The Bubbly Girl.

 

Celebrity Chefs, Food + Recipes

Experience the Magic of Pigs & Pinot with Chef Charlie Palmer

March 8, 2012

Chef Charlie Palmer is hosting a series of events celebrating pinot noir and pork during March at Hotel Healdsburg.

Don’t you love the way some combinations of food and drinks are just perfect together? Milk just begs for cookies, pizza needs beer, and according to celebrity Chef Charlie Palmer, pig likes pinot noir. He should know.

His Pigs & Pinot benefit that started seven years ago as a fun way for Sonoma food lovers and Pinot makers to come together to raise money for charity has become the hottest ticket in Healdsburg. Tickets for the March 23-24 event at Hotel Healdsburg sold out in about five minutes.

But don’t despair. Dry Creek Kitchen is hosting a series of events this month that celebrate the wonderful flavors in both pork and pinot noir. Chef Valette is creating a three-course Sonoma Neighbor Dinner Menu of some of his best por dishes for $36; it’s $51 paired with two wines. Sommelier Drew Munro has added more international pinot noirs to the wine list, and can help pair them with a la carte pork dishes that will be featured during March.

The little benefit became big news when contestants on Top Chef: Las Vegas were challenged to create pinot-loving pork dishes.

“We got about 5,000 email sign-ups on the website and the tickets sold out in 3 minutes,” says Circe Sher. Her family owns the Hotel Healdsburg, where Palmer has his Dry Creek Kitchen restaurant.

On a recent bright and cool Thursday, I drove up to Healdsburg for a Pigs & Pinot preview event. A group of us gathered in the sun room off the main lobby, where we sipped and nibbled on Chef Dustin Valette’s housemade charcuterie and sipped Cuvée Aureole by Iron Horse before a Pigs & Pinot preview tasting.

Winemaker Daryl Groom led us through a competitive blind tasting of 16 of the pinot noirs competing in the Pigs & Pinot judging. Some were elegantly earthy and floral, others were bold and so big they tasted more like syrah.

After choosing a winner, we sat down to a delicious luncheon that starred a roasted porcini velouté (that’s a velvety soup to the rest of us) with crispy coppa ham that sang with the earthy 2008 Soter Mineral Springs Pinot Noir from Oregon. The juicy pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto and daubed with violet mustard was well-suited by both the 2009 Rochioli Three Corner Pinot Noir and the jammy 2009 Kosta Browne Kanzler Vineyard Pinot.

To make reservations for your own pork and pinot experience at Dry Creek Kitchen, call 707.431.0330.

Drinks, Lifestyle, Pop Culture, Sparkling Wine

Toast the Year of the Dragon with Iron Horse’s Chinese Cuvée

February 9, 2012

Iron Horse Chinese Cuvée was created to celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

It’s early February, and we’re about two weeks into the Year of the Dragon. According to the Chinese astrological charts, dragons are ambitious and dominant, passionate, creative and prefer to live by their own rules — know anyone like that? Many Chinese families plan to have children this year, because it’s the most auspicious year for a baby to be born.

Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma is especially excited about their new Year of the Dragon baby, a very limited bottling called the Chinese Cuvée. Created for export to China, only a lucky in the US few will get to taste this new wine.

Come toast the Year of the Dragon with Iron Horse President Joy Sterling and taste the new cuvée at a dim sum and party from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday Feb. 11 at Press Club. After the party, head outside to view the Chinese New Year Parade, which dates back to 1860 and is one of the last illuminated Chinese New Year parades. Sponsored by Southwest Airlines, it starts at 5:30 p.m. and passes near Press Club.

Sterling says their winery has a historic connection to China. “The Clintons served Iron Horse at the State Dinner for President Jiang Zemin at the White House in 1997,” she said.

That history led Chinese wine importer Jaguar Wines to approach Iron Horse about making a special cuvée for export to China. The wine’s gold and red label has both English and Chinese and is adorned with a dragon on a fan at the bottle’s neck.

“My family and I are very proud that we have created a top quality American wine that is now an export success story,” Sterling says.

The number 8 is considered especially lucky in Chinese culture, so 8’s were attached to the Chinese Cuvée wherever possible. Of the 1,000 cases made, 880 were shipped to China and the remaining ones are available here in the U.S. The bottle sells for $98 — in numerology, the sum of the digits is 17, which in turn add up to make 8.

The wine is predominantly Pinot Noir from the 2007 vintage. Its dosage — the final mix of wine and sugar added to sparkling wine to determine the level of sweetness — was designed to make it perfect for pairing with soy, chilies and other savory flavors in Chinese cuisine.

“It never ceases to amaze me that four milliliters can so dramatically change a wine,” says Iron Horse Winemaker David Munksgard. “Dosage can affect color, aroma, weight, finish. It is like the seasoning in cooking. We had Chinese cuisine in mind with the Chinese Cuvée.”

Bubbly Girl Cocktail Recipes, Drinks

Sparkling Grape Harvest in Sonoma & the Tiziano Cocktail Recipe

September 20, 2011

Pinot noir grapes for sparkling wine are being harvested at Iron Horse Vineyards in west Sonoma County. 

The sparkling grape harvest is under way in Sonoma wine country, and of course that means it’s time for harvest parties.

Saturday was the Flavors of Fall Festival at Korbel Winery in Guerneville, which is the largest sparkling wine producer in the United States. The history of the winery dates back more than 100 years when three brothers from Bohemia started a farm in Guernville. They found that nothing grew that well, except for wine grapes. They made their first vintage of sparkling wine in 1882, using grapes that were readily available locally and the same fermentation method as used in Champagne region of France.

If you’ve never been to Korbel, you’ll find it’s a very picturesque property that spreads out among majestic redwood trees. The garden tour takes guests behind a ornate wrought iron gate that’s usually locked and into pathways lined with creeping hydrangea, heirloom roses, elderberry, dahlias, anemone and a variety of other exotic plants. The garden is also a magnet for butterflies; deep sapphire blue swallowtails flitted about. One of the most impressive sights are the ancient redwoods, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.

This stand of redwoods at Korbel Winery in Guerneville is said to be over 1,000 years old.

The winery also offers a range of sparkling wines that can’t be found easily in the market. Since I was signing copies of The Bubbly Bar in the tasting room, I had time to taste some wine. My favorites were the 100% Chardonnay sparkling wine which was dry at just 1.0 dosage, creamy on the palate and full of golden apple and citrus flavors. I was also really impressed with the refreshing Sparkling Riesling made from fruit sourced in Mendocino County. It’s pleasantly off-dry at 3.6 percent sugar with a notes of stone fruit, slatey minerality and good acid structure.

I woke up Sunday to another sunny and hot day in west Sonoma county and the harvest party at Iron Horse Vineyards for members of the Corral Club. We walked up a pathway lined with hand-painted wine bottles holding zinnias from the Sterlings’ garden. Lunch started with duck egg omelets, local sausage and creamy golden cheese with I am the Ocean Reserve. We walked through the tomato, squash and pumpkin patches and hiked up the hill to the tasting room overlooking Green Valley while others line danced. Then the feast began lunch with grilled local lamb, spicy turkey tacos and a jumble of tomatoes along with a reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

We started the party with the Tiziano, a wine country cocktail made with fresh pressed grape juice and sparkling wine. If you decide to try this delicious and simple cocktail, juice your own grapes or buy some high-quality bottled grape juice like the Vignette Wine Country Sodas. Here’s the Tiziano recipe:

With fresh pressed grape juice and sparkling wine, Tiziano is a favorite harvest time cocktail at grape harvest time.

Tiziano Cocktail

15 to 20 red grapes for 3 ounces fresh-pressed red grape juice, plus 2 extra grapes

3 to 4 ounces brut sparkling wine

One red grape, for garnish

One green grape, for garnish

Puree grapes in a blender. Strain puree through a sieve into a champagne flute. Discard grape pulp. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with the red and green grape threaded on  a long bamboo skewer.

Variation: This cocktail takes on a whole different hue and flavor when made with green grapes or an aromatic variety like the Muscat.