Navarro has produced Pinot Gris for ten years and with each vintage the gold medals and enthusiastic reviews keep mounting. The wines have changed over the years and it wasn’t all due to the weather. Our first Pinot Gris in 1993 came from 20 year old vines that had been grafted over to Pinot Gris. The original vines were planted on the valley floor in the seventies and used AXR-1 as the rootstock; it was popular in those pre-phylloxera days because it is a vigorous rootstock and yields large crops. We loved the rich texture and delicate perfume of this variety so we planted three more acres on the valley floor. These vines were planted with a lower vigor rootstock to produce a smaller crop and presumably produce better wine. Our third planting was about 700 to 900 feet higher in a vineyard we call the Middle Ridge. It is a tightly spaced vineyard planted on a low vigor rootstock and is Navarro’s largest planting of Pinot Gris.
The breezy cool springtime weather in 2002 on Navarro’s
Middle Ridge produced grapes with plenty of small berries. The French call this "miller- andage". Mendocino old timers call it "hens and chicks." Whatever you call it, the most intense flavors in white wines comes from the juice closest to the skin so the smaller the berries the bigger the flavors.
We produce Pinot Gris the same way we make
Estate Bottled Gewürztraminer. The grapes are pressed without the use of SO2 and we rack off only the first pressing. We cool ferment in seasoned oak ovals and let the wine rest on the lees for 8 months. The result is wine with attitude. Marcus is working at Navarro for the second season and in 2003 he brought along his cousin Franz from Austria.
The field slopes into the setting sun, perfect for ripening evenly in coastal Anderson Valley. At this altitude there is a constant ocean breeze and less heat during the middle of the day. The field ripens a week later than the same clones on the valley floor with less sugar, more vibrant acidity and a flavor profile reminiscent of Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige. The 2002 is Navarro’s first where the grapes from the Middle Ridge 2001 constitute a significant portion of the blend. Gold Medal winner.
Pre-Release members on a vineyard tour at the top of the middle ridge. This new field high above the valley floor yields fewer bottles of wine per acre in spite of double density plantings but the wines produced seem consistently deeper with a clean, mineral finish.