In 2001 we decided to inspect vineyards in Mendocino's warmer Russian River Valley, searching for good Syrah vineyards in order to add this variety to an expanding portfolio of Navarro wines. Many of these vineyards were planted fifty to ninety years ago and the seasoned owners have seen the many booms and busts that typically accompany farming. These farmers prefer handshakes over written contracts; one can weasel out of a contract but not a handshake with a friend and neighbor. When you shake someone's hand, purchase their grapes consistently year after year and share harvest lunch with them, it's a mutually beneficial and satisfying relationship that is sadly dying away in the wine business.
We ferment Shiraz in open top fermenters. Each morning we record the fermentation temperature and take samples to measure and record how much fermentation has taken place during the previous 24 hours.
After the wine is pumped out, a barrel must be removed from the stack, thoroughly washed with hot water, and finally returned, ready for refilling.
We've been purchasing Syrah from McDowell Valley Vineyards for more than a decade and in 2009 decided to expand our purchases to produce a moderately priced Syrah-based wine. This is Navarro's third and, unfortunately, last Shiraz; McDowell Valley Vineyards was recently sold. We will miss doing business on a handshake with the Crawford family. The grapes for this bottling were destemmed and fermented in an open top fermenter and after aging for eleven months in seasoned French oak barrels, our tasting panel selected a blend that contains 23% Zinfandel from fifty year old vines which spice up the blend. This wine is great with rosemary crusted lamb that matches the wine's audacious fruit and zing. Silver Medal winner.