Until mid-season it's almost impossible to tell the difference between Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. Gris and Blanc are mutations of Noir with similar genetic material; their leaf shape and growth habits are virtually identical. Véraison marks the transition from berry growth to berry ripening and this onset of ripening is evidenced by the change of color in the berries. Pinot Blanc berries soften as they ripen and the color turns from green to straw yellow. Pinot Noir berries turn purple then almost black when fully ripe, the skins containing more pigment and phenolics than Blanc. Gris, when ripe, has a grayish-blue fruit; logical, since gris means grey in French.
The Pinot Gris cluster in the foreground is yellowed because it was grown in direct sunlight. Navarro's viticultural goal is to minimize direct sunlight and most of our fruit is grown with indirect sunlight and the clusters turn a dark grey-blue color. One study showed that quercetin was a good marker for sunlight exposure; clusters grown in the sun had up to three times more of this bitter compound than shaded fruit.
Pecorina, a Maremma livestock guard dog, spends most of her nighttime protecting sheep. During harvest, she dutifully protects the night harvest crew. We harvest at night under floodlights so that the grapes arrive cold at the winery for de-stemming; low juice temperatures minimize phenolic extraction from the skins. The free-run juice was cool-fermented then aged eight months in French oak adding roundness to the crisp citrus and peach flavors.
However the skins of Pinot Gris, like Sangiovese, contain a bitter flavanol called quercetin so the winemaker's decisions at the crush pad determine the style of wine that can be produced. Will the juice be allowed to macerate with the skins and for how long? If allowed to macerate with the skins, the juice can extract flavors and a copper color from the skins, but unfortunately, at the cost of increased bitterness. Bitterness can be masked by sweetness in a wine but since Navarro's goal is to produce a dry, delicate wine to accompany food, we chose to avoid skin contact. "Exceptional. Delicate spice of stone fruit and dried pear; dry entry, but fairly rich. A superb cool-climate version." -VintageExperiences.com. Gold Medal winner.