Hang time has become a trendy term among winemakers. Conventional wisdom holds that the longer the time span between when the berries color and when they are harvested the more flavorful the grapes. We have no controlled experiments regarding hang time but we've noticed that sometimes the best grapes are the first ones harvested... not the last. This wine is a case in point. The first Zinfandel grapes were harvested on October 1 from a very old planting at Tre Sorrelle Vineyards, romantically located on Lovers Lane near Ukiah. The vineyard was planted by the late Bruno Pallini and is now farmed by three of his granddaughters: Tia, Michelle and Debbie. Picked early it still had the highest sugar content of all the 2005 Zinfandel lots.
Ed Pallini introduced us to all his relatives and their Zin grapes are some of our favorites. His family's old vines also supply the fruit for Navarro's Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah, Chenin Blanc, Rosé and Navarrouge.
"Though the winery is located in Anderson Valley, Navarro goes inland to warmer sites in Mendocino where Zinfandel thrives to purchase grapes from five different growers. The vines are typically between 50 and 80 years old. Navarro's founding owners, Ted Bennett and Deborah Cahn, continue making great wines at terrific prices, selling primarily to mailing-list customers and restaurants."
--The Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2007
Farmers are practical folks; a Republican grower and a Democratic vintner can agree on making good wine. It's a pleasant surprise to realize how many things unite rather than divide us.
The second batch was harvested five days later from Al Tollini's oldest block which was planted in 1943. This section of the field had a lighter crop than normal which may account for the speed at which the fruit ripened. Navarro's Old Vine Cuvée is a blend of the best barrels from the best lots and paradoxically this blend was completed by the addition of four barrels from the last 2005 Zinfandel to arrive at Navarro's crusher. These vines are farmed by the Berry family and were planted in the sixties. All were fermented in open top fermentors, punched down by hand to keep the tannins supple and aged eleven months in French oak barrels. Gold Medal winner.
Al Tollini pruning his goblet trained vines.