Navarro's Mendocino Chardonnay pays homage to the Chardonnay grape, considered to be the finest white wine grape variety in the world. Eighty five percent of the grapes in this Mendocino bottling were grown in Philo, where the flavor profile is reminiscent of green apple, poached pear and citrus. The remaining 15% of the grapes were grown in Potter Valley, about 40 miles northeast of the Anderson Valley. Potter Valley is a little warmer and ripe Chardonnay grapes here have melon-like flavors that complement Anderson Valley's apple-pear-citrus profile. The Mendocino bottling has a wider fruit flavor profile because of the Potter Valley fruit addition but the biggest difference between our two Chardonnays is due to the winemaking regime. Unlike the Reserve which was barrel fermented, the Mendocino was cool fermented in stainless steel tanks; the lower fermentation temperatures help retain more fruit aromatics.
Pruning three year old Chardonnay vines. The vertical trunk has already been formed; now horizontal trunks (cordon) are being developed. It typically requires four or five years before the vine's final shape is completely formed.
In France, Chardonnays from Chablis typically undergo a different winemaking regime than the same grape variety in Mersault. In the latter, wines are usually barrel fermented in a winemaking protocol similar to how we produce Navarro's Première Reserve with the emphasis on depth and complexity rather than highlighting vineyard aromatics and flavors. This Mendocino is perhaps more like Chablis; it is aged in seasoned barrels and proudly struts its apple-citrus-pear fruit against a subtle backdrop of oak.
The Reserve wine underwent a secondary malolactic fermentation. In contrast, the Mendocino was racked to seasoned French oak barrels, puncheons and ovals after primary fermentation, avoiding buttery flavors generated by a secondary fermentation. Grape flavors are the emphasis here. The generous Chardonnay flavors are framed with liberal natural acidity, yielding a wine perfectly matched for grilled fish, poultry and veggies, foods that are better suited to crispness than complexity. Gold Medal winner.