While Iron Horse Vineyards produces a variety of still wines, the producer is better-known for its sparking wines, which seem to gain more character with each vintage. The winery was established in 1978 in Sonoma County’s Green Valley, which is surrounded by the Russian River Valley, by Barry and Audrey Sterling, who had acquired an old property where there had been a railroad stop; hence, Iron Horse.
The winery makes several styles of sparkling wine, all in the champagne method, of which I tasted an array recently. I’ll eventually get to the others, but for the fifth entry in this edition of “12 Days of Christmas with Champagne and Sparkling Wine” I want to mention the Iron Horse Brut Rosé 2005, Green Valley.

The color is fire-opal red with a tinge of strawberry and blue; it’s extraordinary and entrancing. Teeny gold flecks of bubbles spume upward in a constant tempest. A blend of 81 percent pinot noir and 19 perfect chardonnay, and made all in stainless steel, Iron Horse Brut Rosé 2005 offers scents of strawberry, raspberry and red currant with hints of blood orange, orange zest and peach, this panoply bolstered by a bready, biscuity quality and plentiful crushed stone elements. This is unusually substantial, dense and chewy for a sparkling wine from California, even as it’s exquisitely balanced by an ardent sense of delicacy, even of the evanescent, while lively acidity keeps the whole package electrified. Irresistible. 950 case production. 13.5 percent alcohol. Excellent. About $50.

A sample for review.