Over three decades ago, Navarrouge was a blend selected from the various lots of wine that didn't fit into Navarro's varietal offerings. We sometimes bought "additional" (code word for expensive) fruit from good vineyards to maintain consistent Navarrouge quality from vintage to vintage. However, as a result of continually improving quality of this evermore popular daily red, this "additional" fruit now accounts for the majority of the recent blends, so we shouldn't have been surprised when the last release of Navarrouge, the 2010, sold out in just seven months. The combination of base wines that we've used for the last three vintages is especially pleasing: fruit-driven, old vine Zinfandel teamed up with Syrah's rich, firm backbone and completed with Pinot Noir's lengthy suppleness. In 2011, late-ripening varieties in Mendocino were degraded by stormy weather and we were unable to harvest any Cabernet Sauvignon or Carignan and only a little Grenache all of which are usually part of this blend.
Topping barrels; Navarrouge is aged for about 10 months in French oak barrels.
In red wine production, the skins macerate in the juice, sometimes for weeks, and the CO2 generated by fermentation causes the skins to float to the surface. Rather than use pumps to remix the juice and skins, we prefer to shove the skins back into the fermenting juice by hand; we think the wines produced have less harsh tannins.
In order to compensate, we upped the percentage of earlier ripening Pinot in this 2011 bottling. The wines were aged in French oak barrels, then in a series of five tastings, we selected a final blend for this bottling. We had already bottled this 2011 Navarrouge before we realized how quickly the 2010 bottling would sell out, so we only bottled the same amount as 2010. Don't dawdle stocking up on this show stopper.
The fruit from these old Zinfandel vines accounts for about a third of this vintage's Navarrouge.