Navarro has made Zinfandel every year since 1999 from vineyards farmed by Al Tollini and Ed Berry in the eastern part of Mendocino County, in the Russian River valley. Navarro is located in the western part of the county and, as far as red wine production is concerned, is primarily a Pinot Noir producer, where balance and finesse always triumph over weight and muscle. It is this west county experience and palate that we bring to Navarro's Zin production. Although we respect the Italian tradition of growing this heritage grape, Navarro's “Pinot” production influences our winemaking.
Jim and Al discussing pruning. Many of Al's vineyards were planted years ago with the vines goblet-trained eliminating the need for any trellising. The vines were planted on a six foot by six foot grid so that weeds could be eliminated by disking in two directions.
Jim and Ed in Ed's Zinfandel vineyard; the vines, planted over sixty years ago, are goblet-trained, which is typical of many vineyards of that era. Fifty-seven percent of the vintage was produced from grapes grown by Ed Berry, and forty-three percent was produced from vines farmed by Al Tollini.
Grape seeds contain very bitter compounds named ellagitannins, which are mostly extracted from grape seeds when the alcohol is over twelve percent. (A low alcohol Zin is an oxymoron.) Navarro's red wine regime features a slow, cold start to the fermentation process that allows the grape's own enzymes to break down the grape skins and extract color and flavor early in the process so that when the alcohol reaches twelve percent, the must can be pressed and the juice removed from the skins before these bitter compounds are extracted. Waiting longer to press would have perhaps produced a bigger and more extracted wine, but at the loss of a supple mouthfeel making the wine-food pairing more of a challenge. Although we simply designate this wine as Mendocino, it is produced entirely from vines that could be collecting Social Security. Strawberry jam and white pepper nose, stewed plum and a minty note; a crowd pleaser with lasagna or pork ribs. Gold Medal winner.