For the last sixteen years, Navarro has released a good, but inexpensive, springtime white wine which is always snapped up by our wine friends. For the first fifteen years, we sourced grapes from a Chenin Blanc vineyard in Talmage. In 2012 those grapes ceased to be available and we spent many days looking for a suitable bright replacement. This year we are releasing our first Pinot Blanc from grapes grown by Gordon Jahnke near Ukiah. Since there are only forty-three acres of Pinot Blanc vines in Mendocino County, we were pleased and surprised to find a mature vineyard planted to true Pinot Blanc. In California many of the pioneer Pinot Blanc vineyards were later discovered to be mistakenly planted in Melon. Navarro's winemaker visited Gordon's vineyard several times last summer and we decided to harvest in late September in order to avoid a hot spell in the forecast. After destemming and pressing the grapes, the juice was cool fermented in stainless steel, then racked to French oak puncheons to age four months.
The Navarro family is expanding. In addition to introducing a new variety, meet Skyler Bennett White who was born in February.
Aging wine in seasoned cooperage allows the wine to clarify naturally without picking up strong oak flavors. Newly fermented wines improve with barrel aging and in the spring following harvest, at the same time we have bud-break in the vineyard, wines in cask begin to “open up.”
In our morning tastings we found that an addition of 12 percent Chardonnay nicely augmented Pinot Blanc's citrus-melon flavors and lengthened the finish. Pinot Blanc is an underappreciated variety but we think Navarro's newest “baby” will please with its bright bouquet, clean flavors, crisp finish and moderate price tag. Gold Medal winner.
Pinot Blanc, a color mutation of Pinot Gris, was confused with Chardonnay until the end of the 19th century when it was properly identified by French ampelographer Victor Pulliat in 1868.