The base wine for Navarro's Rosé has always been from grapes harvested from Debbie Pallini's ancient Grenache vines (49%) blended with grapes from her sister Tia's seventy year old Carignan vines (33%). These gnarled vines produce a very distinctive and flavorful wine enhanced by their locations in particularly cool spots for these varieties. The old vines produce a small crop; production is limited and will continue to diminish over time. We've tried to source more fruit and we did find another sixty year old Grenache vineyard at McDowell Vineyards three years ago. This site was first planted in 1890, and then replanted in 1948. It constitutes 18% of the blend adding ripe strawberry flavors and a rounded mouth. We would like to expand Navarro's rosé production, or simply maintain production levels, without diluting the character of our "old vine" fruit.
Summer is when our roses and our rosé are in full bloom. It is traditional to plant roses close to a vineyard because, like a miner's canary, the roses display the symptoms of a mildew infection before the grapes. Pat has managed Navarro's tasting room since 1980, the year it opened.
Sisters Michelle, Tia and Debbie Pallini, circa 1968. (left to right). Debbie's vineyard supplies the Grenache for Navarro's rosé and Tia's vines supply the Carignan. The crisp Chenin Blanc, part of Navarro's spring releases, came from Michelle's vineyard. These vineyards were planted by previous generations and when this photo was taken, the vines that produced this rosé were already over thirty years old.
We experimented with Grenache from 20 year old vines but they added nothing to our blend and were nixed from the mix. We carefully monitored skin-contact time to extract enough flavor before we began to extract tannins. The juice was slowly cool-fermented to retain strawberry flavors from the Grenache and guava-rhubarb from the Carignan. It was stored sur lie (on the yeast) for 12 weeks to add roundness to the mid-palate and some complex yeastiness. This is the smallest bottling we've ever had from these vines and one of the most flavorful vintages.