Medieval vineyards were planted with a mixture of grapes to ensure a crop even in difficult years but by 1100 the vineyards in Burgundy were in decline. On Christmas Day 1112, thirty Cistercian monks led by Saint Bernard were given their first vineyard in Meursault. The young monks were educated and dedicated. They studied, propagated and provided cuttings from the best vines, experimented with pruning and grafting and were careful winemakers. They contributed the concept of "cru" to winemaking; they recognized sections of vineyards that consistently produced wine with exceptional quality and flavor. The religious order and the vineyards prospered and a few years later the monks of Pontigny planted the first 100% Chardonnay vineyard in Chablis. We planted our first Chardonnay vineyard at Navarro in 1979 and like the Cistercians we now have favorite vines and blocks. Three blocks in Navarro's Hammer Olsen field consistently produce delicious Chardonnay and form the base for the Première Reserve cuvée year after year.
Geoffrey of Waterford was a wine critic during the Middle Ages. One of his wine descriptions could easily apply to this Chardonnay:
"its strength is tempered, it opens out sweetly as it comes into the mouth, greets the nostrils and comforts the brain, taking the palate softly but with force."
Conscientious New World wine-growers today engage in the same pursuits as Cistercian monks 900 years ago in Burgundy to identify the sections of their vineyards that consistently produce distinctive quality wine. Sarah and Jeff are recent graduates from U.C. Davis. Sarah has a Masters degree in Enology and Jeff in Viticulture.
A newer vineyard planted to Dijon clones 76 and 95 is showing great promise and makes up 25% of this bottling. The wine was fermented and aged 10 months in French oak barrels. Bâttonage contributed toast, vanilla and butter to the pear-apple fruit with a squeeze of citrus. Gold Medal winner.
Navarro's label is an assemblage of three medieval woodcuts respecting the long history of our profession. In January we humbly carried Navarro wine to a family wedding at the church in Vieux-Bellême, France.