For almost forty years Navarro has been producing Anderson Valley Pinot Noir wine and two decades ago we set out to dramatically increase our estate Pinot vineyard acreage. Given Navarro's early winemaking experience with several Pinot clones, each one with a different flavor profile, we felt pretty confident about clonal selection. The biggest gap in our knowledge concerned newly available rootstocks. How would they perform in Philo? We decided to plant our newer fields with a selection of different rootstocks as well as various clones, the shoots that are grafted on to the roots. After twenty vintages of making wine from various clone/rootstock combinations, it's our observation that there is as much flavor profile difference due to the rootstock choice as the clonal selection. One rootstock we've used is Rupestris
, which has a deep tap root. We've also planted using Riparia Gloire
, whose roots spread more horizontally.
We carefully redesigned our grapevine trellis making it tall enough for miniature baby-doll sheep to graze under the vines during the summer without them eating leaves or grapes. It appears we forgot that the chickens, that graze the fields after the sheep, have wings and can perch on the drip-tubing a foot from the fruit.
We prefer "punch-downs" to pumping over because it helps keep wine tannins soft. Julia Berry is using obstetric gloves so that she can feel temperature differences in the must, which indicate a difference in fermentation rates. Mixing hot areas with cooler ones produces a more even fermentation.
It's our guess that the rootstocks are getting nutrients from different soil strata, which alters the wines' eventual taste. This bottling is a complex cuvée, produced from nine separate vineyard blocks, planted to five distinct clones, on five different rootstocks. The wine was aged in seasoned French oak barrels in order that fruit, rather than oak, should dominate; raspberry, plum, dried cherry and toasty oak all for less than $20 a bottle. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
In August, after the berries have filled out, sugar begins to accumulate and at about 10% sugar, the berries begin to color. Forty percent of this bottling was produced from fruit grown in our high density vineyards, planted in 2009; the balance is from portions of lots that were excess to Navarro's
Méthode à l'Ancienne and
Deep End Blend bottlings.