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Latest Accolades: Scores for Our Best Sparkling Wines

by Joy Sterling | Published November 16, 2022

Sparkling Wine ratings tend to land in the fall, giving us something new and shiny to dangle before your eyes like dancing sugar plums. We submit our five “core” bubblies for review to three national publications: Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Wine Enthusiast. The current crop of bubblies are vintage 2018.

It’s fun to compile them into a grid to see where the consensus lies. Some of our best Sparkling Wines we submitted for scores:

Wine SpectatorWine & SpiritsWine Enthusiast
Wedding Cuvée94 – Spectator Selection91
Classic Vintage Brut


939294 -Editor’s Selection
Ocean Reserve9393
Brut X9393
Russian River Cuvée9295

Naturally, we’re thrilled to receive high scores and promote them to the hilt. As my mother says, “The more the merrier, the higher the better.” We are very lucky that we can afford to be nonchalant. Our best Sparkling Wines, Chardonnays and Pinots have received 90-point + ratings for decades.

There has been score inflation over the years. It used to be that a 90-point rating was considered high praise. Now, anything under 92 barely gets mentioned. 94 is considered “outstanding,“ and is Iron Horse’s new “baseline.” 95 points is deemed “classic”, 97 gets noticed. And that, of course, is the primary role of wine scores, to hopefully get noticed.

But it isn’t all just numbers. Words matter.

Our latest accolades include being written up in the New York Times for the newly released 2014 Stargazing, which Florence Fabricant included in her Front Burner column. She described it as: “… pale gold… (with) a fine mousse, lovely toasted notes mingled with white peach and a finish that lingers. Raise a holiday glass of give as a gift”.

The Write Ups + Top 100 Wines

Wine & Spirits Magazine named Iron Horse’s 2013 Brut LD one of the Top 100 Wines of the World – the sole American bubbly on the list. It was an honor to pour our 2006 Joy! and the LD – both in magnum alongside Bollinger and 2013 Cristal at their tasting in San Francisco.

It is always interesting to read how the professionals describe our best Sparkling Wines.

Tim Fish, Senior Editor at Wine Spectator, historically prefers our Wedding Cuvée. He has awarded the 2018 vintage 94 points, saying: “This beautiful bubbly is stately yet festive, with effusive notes of raspberry and zesty lemon accented with graham cracker and fresh ginger as this fans out on the finish, picking up creamy and spicy notes along the way.”

We have a new editor reviewing our wines at Wine Enthusiast, Jim Gordon, who gave our 2018 Russian River Cuvée his highest score of 95 points, with this beautiful description: “Finesse, detail and elegance make this wine outstanding from the first whiff to the lingering finish. Subtle aromas of bread dough, toast, almond and ginger lead to a creamy palate of rich golden apple, cream and a touch of honey, all on a silky texture of fine-grained fizz.”

Josh Greene, publisher Wine & Spirits Magazine, traditionally reviews our wines for his publication. With his 93-point rating of our 2018 Ocean Reserve he writes: “Ocean Reserve blends Chardonnay from six blocks at the Iron Horse estate, building complexity into the green-apple flavors of a cool, discreet sparkler. Its gentle briskness edges toward lemon pith, pale yellow plum and white strawberries, carrying the flavor of the fruit without the sweet ripeness. A California pleasure that supports Mission Blue’s marine protected areas while enlivening most any sustainable seafood.”

Love, love, love that Josh calls our Ocean Reserve a “California pleasure”! That’s our goal, to make wines of pleasure. Suffice it to say they are all delicious and we think they are all our best sparkling wines.

My recommendation for the best gift is for you to pick your favorite of these delicious bottles packaged in a gift box with two Iron Horse flutes. Can’t go wrong.