Over seventy-five percent of the wine comprising our 2005 blend came from sixty year old vines. As with the last eight vintages, the base (60%) of the Navarrouge is Zinfandel and Valdiguié, grapes with as much character, history and stamina as the ancient vines that produced them. We discovered this combination in 1997 and there's good reason that the combo works. These two grapes have complimentary flavor profiles: Zinfandel tastes of wild blackberry and Valdiguié flavors suggest wild cherry. But there is a more technical reason that the blend is so successful. Zinfandel has very high sugars at full ripeness but Valdiguié doesn't. Consequently we can produce a wine with fine, rich flavors without too much hot, abrasive alcohol. Each year we add splashes of other red varieties.
Rather than using pumps to keep the highly-colored skins wet with juice, we punch-down manually, plunging the skins deep into the juice to extract color and flavor. Pumps are abrasive to skins and seeds and introduce too much oxygen.
Normally you wouldn't expect fruit from 60 year old vines to be the base for a $12 wine... but then it isn't usual for wineries to sell most of their wine to existing customers. If this wine was sold through the standard three tier system (wholesaler, retailer, then you), Navarro would net less than $6 a bottle. Those economics simply couldn't sustain the average per ton purchase price of $1820 paid for these top quality grapes.
This vintage the single largest addition was 20% Syrah which adds black currant flavors and a firm backbone. Next 8% Cabernet Sauvignon was poured in to add herbal complexity. On the last four days of the blending trials we were really fine tuning: the wine was completed by 3% additions each of "old vine" Petite Sirah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Pinot Noir. Navarro's old time customers know that Navarrouge is an old-fashioned value, especially when purchased by the case. We always have a bottle ready for a messy bowl of homemade Cioppino. Gold Medal Winner.
Navarrouge was aged exclusively in French oak barrels for about 10 months. Each barrel has to be sampled on a regular basis and Navarro has over 1,000 barrels, which keeps Andy busy.