Navarro's Gewürztraminer Brut and this dry table wine were both produced from our favorite estate grown grapes but our methods of production were poles apart. Sparkling wine requires juice with very high acidity and low sugar, so the grapes are harvested at the beginning of the season. All Navarro's Gewürztraminer grapes are harvested in the chill of the night but the grapes for this Estate Bottled dry cuvée were gathered several weeks later in the next calendar year than the 2009 Brut, with riper varietal aromas and flavors, higher sugars and less tang. Most grape flavors and aromas are in the grape skins so a winemaker's trick of the trade is to allow the juice to macerate on the skins to extract these compounds. In order to produce a delicate sparkling wine we whole cluster pressed the grapes immediately to create a more neutral canvas. The Estate Bottled cuvée, however, demanded more spiciness, so we allowed the juice and the skins several hours of contact. After pressing, the cold juice was allowed to warm up in oak ovals, and once the fermentation started, refrigerated stainless steel cooling panels inside the ovals kept the wine in the low 50's, helping to retain its pretty perfume.
Aaron checking a sample from our smallest and oldest ovals. We ferment and age all our Gewürztraminer in oak ovals. Each is fitted with a stainless steel cooling panel. In October this wine won the prestigious 2011 Western Wine Award from Sunset Magazine for the best white wine under $20. It's nice to know that we weren't completely crazy when Navarro decided to specialize in this persnickety grape thirty eight years ago.
Navarro's 2011 Crush crew. We augment our normal five person winery staff at harvest with two tasting room employees, six winery interns, and two proprietors.
Fermentation lasted about a month; once it was complete, each oval was chilled to stop yeast activity, the casks were was topped off to avoid oxygen contact and then the wine was allowed to quietly rest on the yeast for seven months. Wine aging in oak casks clarifies without the use of bulk filtration and the yeast contact produces a rounded mouth-feel. As is Navarro's tradition, the finish is dry and will spice up ham, pot stickers or roasted potatoes with raclette. Gold Medal winner.
Gewürztraminer berries were Lilliputian in 2010 and the vines produced only 60% of normal. This wine was produced from a crazy number of small lots of wine which Navarro kept separate throughout the winemaking process: Apple 456 (11.1%), Apple 457 ( 14.5%), East Hill T trellis (14.7%), East Hill V trellis (11.1%), Peach Day 1( 26.7%), Peach Day 2 ( 7.6%), Pond Lower: (3.1%), West Hill Upper (11.2%).