For the third time in a decade Navarro's Cluster Select Late Harvest scored 98 points to win California's best wine at the State Fair. The luscious tropical fruit flavors are balanced by an unusually snappy, vibrant finish. What makes Anderson Valley Riesling so special is its bracing acidity. Since acid, sugar and alcohol all act to keep a wine fresh, it's no surprise that of all the wines we produce, this is the one that will age the best. According to Jancis Robinson in The Oxford Companion to Wine Cabernet Sauvignon ages the best of any red wine but not nearly as long as a white wine made from botrytized grapes. That has been our experience too. When we first arrived in Philo the then current textbooks denied the existence of botrytis in California; wine grapes until the early 70's were grown in warmer and drier climates of the state. It never occurred to us that we would end up making sweet wine from rotted grapes. Thirty years later whenever a cool summer presents us with a later than normal harvest, we leave our best Riesling fields for last and pray for wet, cool miserable weather. This wine is nectar in a glass: pineapple, guava, citrus marmalade, apricot, and honey. Gold Medal winner. Best of Show.
Botrytis infected Riesling. "The grapes turn pink or purple, and then when they are in a severely dehydrated state, they turn brown, shrivel to sort of a moist raisin, and may seem to be covered with a fine grey powder that looks like ash (to which the word cinerea refers)."
- Jancis Robinson.
We are saving at least a case of this wine for Emilia's 21st birthday.
"Many years ago we purchased from the winery bottles of your 1983 cluster select White Riesling. We opened a bottle last night with visiting friends from England who happen to be lovers of dessert wines. The Riesling was dark amber in color and absolutely incredible - great depth of flavor and perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. (Our friend David described it as "the nectar of the Gods".) What a wonderful treat. My guess it has another 10 to 20 years ahead of it at least."
-P & J D. August, 2007 via email.
Botrytis cinerea's grey filaments are called conidia and penetrate directly into the skin of the grape enabling the fungus to dehydrate the infected berries.