For many years Navarro's Mendocino Chardonnay has been produced from two vineyards; a neighboring Anderson Valley vineyard, and a vineyard located in inland Potter Valley. It became apparent by September 2010 that the cool, late season had been particularly harsh on the Potter Valley grapes; there seemed little chance that our usual inland site could produce the quality that we needed. Fortunately for Navarro, our neighbors, Gilman and Marge Ordway, owners of Valley Foothills Vineyard, had just purchased a second ranch right next door to Navarro and the fruit in this established Chardonnay field was, as yet, unsold. One of the main components in this blend has always been Valley Foothills' "K" block Chardonnay. If we include the wine we made from Marge and Gil's newly acquired Day Ranch vineyard, their grapes account for almost two thirds of this bottling. The other third of this bottling is Navarro grown, so this wine tastes very much of Philo: apple, poached pear and citrus with hints of vanilla from the seasoned French oak barrels.
Casey (on right) has supervised the grape growing at Eaglepoint Vineyard for three decades, so we are pleased to have him as the new vineyard consultant right next door at Valley Foothills Vineyard.
After a series of morning tastings, we decided on a specific blend containing eight different 2010 Chardonnay vineyard lots. Jim uses a metered pump to move wine from seasoned French barrels in precisely the right quantities to replicate the lab sample we developed in our painstaking tastings. In this Mendocino bottling we aim for bright Chardonnay fruit flavors with just a kiss of oak.
Remember that the weather was cool during ripening so the flavors are clean and bright and resonate with lemony clarity. We like it with local Petrale sole, quickly pan seared in butter and sprinkled with capers. Gold Medal winner.
Customers on a Navarro harvest tour with bins of Chardonnay ready to be destemmed and pressed. We can scientifically measure many of the attributes of the grape juice and skins but tasting the berries remains the best way to judge ripeness. Besides, grapes are impossible to resist.