We have ambivalent feelings about vineyard designation on a wine label. A vineyard named on the label establishes where the grapes were grown, a good thing since one of the great joys of wine tasting over many vintages is discovering a sense of place or terroir; unfortunately, due to rarity alone, vineyard designated wines tend to fetch excessive prices relative to quality. Although we don't identify a specific vineyard site for this Première Reserve cuvée, we select our best lots from the same fields each year. Eighty two percent of grapes that produced this bottling were grown in Navarro's Hammer Olsen vineyard and the remainder in a neighboring field; both are located about 2.9 miles west of Philo, situated on a south-west facing gentle slope, at an elevation between 250 to 350 feet. Hence, Navarro's Première Reserve consistently displays a sense of place.
Harvesting Chardonnay at sunrise.
All of Navarro's irrigation and frost protection water is collected in ponds during the winter storms, leaving the streams with their full complement of water in the summer. Not only do the ponds sustain our vines, they also support abundant wildlife. Farming without chemicals helps maintain a healthy habitat for the many creatures living and growing families near or in Navarro's ponds: bass, mallards, ospreys, great blue herons, black phoebes, box-nesting swallows and bluebirds to name a few.
The wine's usual core of pear-apple fruit is bright, firm and lingers, qualities that reflect the vintage's cool ripening season. Grapes were destemmed and pressed with the first squeeze juice from each picking fermented, then aged, as separate lots in French oak barrels. We're very pleased with this 2010 bottling, but unfortunately, the following vintage was tough and due to quality issues, Navarro didn't bottle any 2011 Première Reserve. We've stocked our cellars with this vintage to cover the upcoming shortage and we advise our Chardonnay fans to do the same; lovely with smoked salmon or chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.