Pulling out thirty year old vines from our Tasting Room field was painful but provided us a clean slate, an opportunity to plant some exciting Chardonnay clone and rootstock combinations. The fruit from these vines has always been part of our Première Reserve Chardonnay but we will have to wait close to a decade until the new vines are mature enough to include their fruit as part of Navarro's flagship Chard. The Tasting Room vines account for 15% of this 2009 bottling, so we expect our production of Première Reserve will be smaller while we wait. We've slowly been planting other small blocks of Chardonnay which are now well established.
The investment in a modern vineyard is substantially more than what was standard in 1979 when we first planted this field. After harvest 2009, we removed all the vines from our Tasting Room block and in summer 2010 buried a large culvert five feet deep across the entire field (top left). We then installed French drains every 40 feet that flow into the central culvert in order to recycle Navarro's frost protection and irrigation water as well as providing better vineyard drainage.
ENTAV clones 76 and 95 have performed particularly well in Philo and represent respectively 16% and 13% of the 2009 cuvée. 56% of the wine was grown in Navarro's Hammer Olsen block. It was planted a bit later than the Tasting Room field with FMS "California" clone 17R and has consistently delivered stunning grapes. The Première Reserve was fermented and aged ten months in a mixture of 1/3 each new, one year old, and two year old barrels made from oak staves air-aged for three years. Tickle your taste buds with citrus blossom, butter, vanilla, cinnamon and baked quince. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
At a depth of three feet we installed irrigation mainlines (top right) to each of the six vineyard sub-blocks for individualized irrigation schedules. The soil was amended with over 100 tons of compost which was incorporated to a depth of four feet, simultaneously bringing up old vine roots for removal. After seeding, the field was ready for the winter rain. (bottom left). Last year we were able to plant in May but this year's late rains make a June planting more likely of several chardonnay clone-rootstock combos. (bottom right).