It is not surprising that wine lovers are a bit confused about what to expect from a Pinot Gris. The wine has about a zillion names depending upon where it is grown: Pinot Grigio, Tokay d' Alsace, Ruländer, Grauer Burgunder, and even Szürkebarát. To confuse things even more, the grape can appear anywhere from dark blue to mauve to golden when ripe and winemakers don't all agree on how the variety should be handled. Since Navarro has spent the last thirty years learning how to perfect an Alsatian style Gewürztraminer, you can bet your Pinot that we followed the traditions of Alsace in producing Navarro's Pinot Gris. In fact, we took our time researching ampelographies from Colmar to decide just which clones of Pinot Gris to plant on the Middle Ridge, our newest, best and most extensive planting of this variety. There are two authorized clones in Alsace and a third under observation.
Navarro's harvest intern in 2004 was Jean-François Mann (right) whose family makes wine, including Pinot Gris, in Alsace under the label Wunch Mann. Jean-François sent us his résumé because Carl Niehaus, a Navarro fan of many years, mentioned Navarro's name while visiting Jean-François's winery in France. Carl (left) joined Jean-François for a harvest-crew lunch at Navarro in October 2004.
|The Pinot Gris grapevine is genetically unstable; sometimes a single vine will yield both dark and pale berries.
ENTAV clones 52 and 53 are what we planted in 1997 and it's great to finally have the vines in full production. Clone 52 has smaller clusters, less yield per vine and riper fruit than Clone 53 which is tarter, more floral and more mineral-like. As in Alsace we fermented and aged the wine seven months in French oak casks. The 2003 has more clout than previous vintages with a rich, pear-like viscosity and a clean, mineral conclusion. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
This is the first year that the Pinot Gris from Navarro's Middle Ridge constitutes the major portion of Navarro's Pinot Gris blend.