When we first visited Alsace thirty five years ago Pinot Gris was called Tokay d'Alsace. It seems that Tokaji from Hungary had brand recognition that the winegrowers of Alsace wanted to emulate. Since then international diplomacy has concentrated on Protected Designations of Origin for wine grapes and the Hungarians want exclusive use of Tokaji. For a while the French winemakers used Tokay Pinot Gris as a transitional name but as of last year the word Tokay is forbidden. Ironically winemakers in California, Oregon, Washington and New Zealand have been making such nice Pinot Gris that the winemakers of Alsace just may benefit from New World efforts. Regardless of the name, Navarro has always respected the style of Pinot Gris from Alsace which tends to be riper and less herbal than the Italian counterparts called Pinot Grigio.
If you find a bottle in your cellar that is still called
Tokay d'Alsace or
Tokay Pinot Gris, it is now a collector's item. Winemakers in Alsace had to discontinue using the word
Tokay in 2007. "Perfectly fills the need in California for a bone-dry, racy white wine. Acidity is the star here, enriched with savory lemon and lime zest, grilled pineapple, pepper and mineral flavors. After all the oak and super sweetness of too many wines, it makes you want to sing and dance."
-Steve Heimoff, Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Hillside farming on terraces is more costly than growing on the valley floor. Instead of weeding under the vines with a tractor, we use a weed-eater and people power. We also have experimented with geese as weeders but they definitely have to be corralled when the grapes start to sweeten.
We have been making Pinot Gris since 1993, at first from the vineyard almost next door called Valley Foothills which is close enough for Navarro's winemaker to cast an appraising eye over the fence. Our largest block was planted in 1996 on Navarro's Middle Ridge, a well-drained, breezy slope facing west at about a thousand foot elevation. We fermented, like winemakers in Alsace, in oak ovals and puncheons. The rich texture combined with racy acidity makes this a particularly nice wine with wild salmon; if unavailable, halibut is a good substitute. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.