The Anderson Valley had repeated bouts of chilly, windy weather during the spring of 2007. To our dismay one spell occurred right during flowering and Navarro's Chardonnay vines responded by setting fewer than usual berries. In retrospect, it may have been fortunate that the vines had a light crop because the same miserable, chilly weather beleaguered harvest and the vines were only able to ripen a minimal crop. The unseasonable weather meant the field ripened unevenly so, as in 2006, we marked the ripest sections of each field and eventually picked them as separate lots. Due to the lighter crop and selective harvesting of the blocks, we were still able to get some beautiful ripe fruit from our best fields. These selected grapes were destemmed, pressed and fermented in new, one and two year old barrels.
We turn on overhead sprinklers during frosty spring mornings. The icicles forming on the tender new growth protects them to about 26°F. If the vines are flowering the crop level can be reduced dramatically. Our 30 year old vineyards produced only two and a half tons per acre in 2007 due to the cold spring.
Sarah is raising Babydoll sheep to weed all of Navarro's Chardonnay vineyards in the summer saving diesel fuel. Sheep consider fresh grape leaves a great delicacy. Their favorite meal consists of the vines' tender trunk suckers and the persnickety critters only settle for grass once the leaves are gone. It is easy to make friends with sheep when you are head-suckering, removing the leaves that are too high on the cordon for the sheep to reach.
We contacted the French cooper Billon and for this wine, selected barrels made from wood grown in the Vosges forest with a medium toast. The wine was aged nine months on the yeast with regular bâtonnage, or stirring, and the flavors are rich, yeasty and buttery with a core of apple and pear fruit. Our tasting panel's description of this nuanced wine confirms that it deserves Navarro's Première Reserve seal of approval: buttered croissant, apple-pear tart, cantaloupe and caramel apple. It taste delicious at cellar temperature but don't serve over-chilled or you might dull the wines complexity and subtleness. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.