Normally Zinfandel is the second most important ingredient in Navarrouge but in this vintage that position has been usurped by Cabernet Sauvignon. In fact Cabernet Sauvignon makes up 26% of this blend. We know of Meritage wines that have less Cab. But don't get us wrong; this is no claret. There is no Merlot or Cabernet Franc lurking in the blend. Mendocino is not Napa and the grapes that flourish in our cool valleys were planted by rebel Italian immigrants who were distinctly uninterested in having their wine imitate the grand chateaux of Bordeaux. 28% of the wine is a round and fruity Valdiguié and in decreasing amounts this year's Navarrouge is Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Zinfandel, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Cinsaut. The Pinot Noir and Zinfandel combine with Valdiguié to provide the core of ripe fruit while the Cabernet asserts herbal and tobacco notes. The remaining splashes of heritage Mendocino reds will remind you of the rugged and rebellious nature of the folks who first planted vineyards in Mendocino and who continue to farm here.
Punching down by hand rather than using electric pumps produces wines with a more gentle tannin structure. All of the red wines in this blend were literally hand made.
Last summer we replaced an older diesel frost protection pump with a modern fuel efficient engine. It is a farmer's equivalent of trading in an old gas guzzler for a hybrid car.
As well as being delicious and food friendly, Navarrouge is priced for cottages not for castles. When you buy it by the case it is less than $10 a bottle, which is pretty amazing for a red wine that has aged in the best French barrels.
Ryan Young could use eyes in the back of his head to navigate a tractor in the ancient Valdiguié vines that make up 28% of this blend.