Two of Navarro's favorite varieties, Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer, are very sensitive to sun exposure and interestingly, both are white wine grape varieties that develop deeply colored skins near harvest. A recent study demonstrated the extent to which sun exposure can affect the temperature of a dark-skinned grape cluster; the data revealed that the temperature of the berries on the inside of the cluster were over 155°F on a typical summer afternoon. In Gewürztraminer, sun exposure and heat results in a dramatic reduction of cis-rose oxide, linalool and geraniol, which are responsible for Gewürztraminer's floral, almost lychee-like aromatics. Dappled shade is good for Pinot Gris too, but for another reason. Quercetin is a bitter flavonol found in the skins of Pinot Gris. The more sunlight, the more quercetin: clusters grown in the sun have up to three times more of this astringent compound than shaded fruit.
The Pinot Gris cluster in the foreground has yellowed because it was grown in direct sunlight. Navarro's viticultural goal is to minimize direct sunlight and most of our fruit is grown in light shade, so the clusters turn a lovely dark grey-blue color.
The inside of a French oak oval, looking out. We ferment, then age Pinot Gris sur lie in ovals for eight months which allows the wine to clarify and develop a hint of "toast" from the yeast contact.
When grapes are destemmed to produce wine, the juice extracts phenolics from the skins; the amount of harsh phenolics picked up by the juice is a function of the grape's temperature as well as the amount of time that the juice macerates with skins. Consequently, we harvest the fruit at night when the grape temperatures are a cool 40°F and 50°F and extract minimal harshness. When we destem the fruit at the winery, we immediately separate the cold juice from the skins. This bottling is a cuvée created by blending the wine of four ovals from our three best vineyard lots. Refined and nutty with lots of texture, this pampered wine is our family's favorite with holiday ham. Gold Medal winner.