Naming this wine modestly as Navarrouge belies its intrinsic complexity. We were tempted to add a splashy Old Vine Selection or some other impressive designation on the label that would clue people into the quality of grapes that went into this bottling. For the past several years we've purchased more old-vine Zin than we intended to bottle as Zinfandel, simply to provide an exciting base wine for our Navarrouge blend. This vintage is a third Zinfandel, all from well-tended vineyards with ancient goblet vines on well drained soils. Of the remainder, twenty-three percent is Syrah, sixteen percent is Grenache, and fourteen percent Valdiguié. Like the Zinfandel, all these lots are from gnarled vines, older than most of the people who made or will drink the wine. What made us reluctant to call this Old Vine Selection is that fourteen percent is Anderson Valley Pinot Noir.
We purchased our first Zinfandel grapes grown on ancient head-trained vines from Ed Pallini in 1991. Since then he's introduced us to several other members of his family, all with heritage vines. Thanks Ed!
We enjoy doing things the old fashioned way. For centuries red wine has been made by manually shoving the skins that rise to the surface, back into the fermenting juice. We prefer the results over more modern methods utilizing pumps.
The oldest Pinot vines in the valley were planted in the 70's, so although the quality of Anderson Valley Pinot is now well established, the vines definitely don't qualify as ancient heritage vines. With 70% of the blend being Zinfandel, Syrah and Grenache, the wine has a rich Rhône-like structure with flavors of black cherry, blackberry jam, dark chocolate and spice; multifaceted but not too heavy with the softness of a favorite cashmere sweater.
Casey Hartlip manages Eaglepoint Ranch, where we've purchased outstanding red wine grapes since 1978. His two sidekicks enjoy riding on the ATV; it gives them a perch from which to hunt gophers.