What differentiates the Mendocino from the Première Reserve Chardonnay? Most obviously, the Mendocino is aged in puncheons and seasoned French barrels so the oak flavors are more subtle than the Reserve which is aged in newer barrels. A second difference is the matter of a secondary fermentation which converts malic acid, also found in apples and pears, into lactic acid, which is found in butter and milk. We discouraged a secondary fermentation in half of the Mendocino bottling so the wine has a firm backbone of acidity and tastes of crisp, fresh Granny Smiths and Bartletts. The Première Reserve, where malolactic fermentation was encouraged in every lot, has more buttery overtones. Despite these winemaking variations, it is the similarity of Navarro's two versions of Chardonnay that is most striking. Although we label this wine Mendocino, all of the grapes were grown in Anderson Valley, the priciest appellation in Mendocino County. Most of the grapes were grown under a long term contract at neighboring Ordway's Valley Foothills Vineyards and the balance came from right across the street at Corby Vineyards.
A barrel is about 60 gallons and an oak puncheon is about 135 gallons. Puncheons give texture to a fruity Chardonnay but impart much less toasty, vanilla flavors than a barrel.
You don't have to be very old to say "yum" to fresh fruit, especially strawberries straight from the garden.
There are even some grapes from our estate vineyards in the blend so this wine's most important ingredient has the same pedigree as the fruit in our more expensive bottling. The springtime floral aromas are enhanced by lemon custard notes while the bright, crisp style makes it a perfect choice with garden fresh seasonal cuisine. Gold Medal winner.
Our neighbors, the Gowans and their ancestors the Studebakers, have been growing a wide variety of apples for over 120 years at the farm next door. We often muse that Navarro's tasting room is actually part of a long tradition of fruit stands in the Anderson Valley, especially when we are selling a wine with as much apple flavors as this Mendocino Chardonnay.