The 2015 harvest in Philo was skimpy with our Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer vines affected the most. For the 2013 and 2014 vintages of Navarrouge, we added a good-sized portion of Pinot Noir, but with an anticipated small crop of 2015 Pinot Noir, we scrambled to come up with a suitable replacement. By summertime we had made arrangements to purchase additional amounts of old-vine Zinfandel from two of our favorite growers, Al Tollini and Ed Berry. In fact, we should really call this Al's and Ed's wine since they supplied all the grapes for this bottling. Ed supplied most of the Zinfandel and Al not only provided more Zin, but Barbera, Grenache and Carignane as well. There were eight vineyard lots for this bottling that we destemmed, fermented and aged as individual lots in seasoned French oak barrels for ten months. Bottled in August 2016, the wine was bottle-aged another year before release. Compared to the prior vintage, the 2015 has a higher percentage of old-vine Zinfandel and lower amounts of Pinot Noir and Syrah.
Jim and Al Tollini discussing vineyard conditions prior to harvest. All of the wine in this bottling came from grapes grown by either Al Tollini or Ed Berry. The vines they nurture are old-timers with an average age of over seventy years.
Ted and Ed Berry Sr. schmoozing after Ed delivered grapes to Navarro on his flatbed truck. One of the nice traditions in rural Mendocino is making time to talk to your neighbors. Ted is a Berkeley Democrat and Ed a Reagan Republican but we're still good neighbors and friends, even in 2017.
As a result, the wine is a little softer due to slightly less acidity than the prior vintage, with Zin's blackberry, blueberry and peppery-spice flavors taking center stage. This vintage is full bodied, the flavors are ripe and juicy, the tannins are supple, and there is a nice coating of vanilla and toast from aging in French oak barrels. A great match with lamb kabobs or pork ribs off the summer barbeque. Gold Medal winner.