Syrah and Grenache are the mainstay red wine grapes of the Rhône in southern France. The wines produced are frequently blends of several grape varieties with Syrah dominating in the northern Rhône and Grenache further south at Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The grapes for both this Syrah and the Grenache were grown at Dark Horse Vineyards on red volcanic soil, located in the hills south and east of Ukiah. Proprietors Paul and Heath Dolan are professional winemakers so it comes as no surprise that the vineyard is farmed to produce superior wine. We also appreciate this vineyard because it is farmed biodynamically; our enthusiasm is not because of Steiner's intricate potions but rather due to the extra care that organic and biodynamic farming requires to avoid problems that otherwise would involve heavy-handed remedies. The Grenache grapes were harvested on September 9th and the Syrah almost two weeks later on the 21st. After destemming, the must for each variety was transferred to an open-top fermentor for twice-daily punch-downs; after about 10 days, the musts were pressed and the juices racked to seasoned French oak barrels to finish both primary and malolactic fermentations, then aged 11 months.
Heath Dolan inspecting his Syrah crop prior to harvest. We first purchased biodynamically grown Syrah grapes from Dark Horse Vineyards 12 years ago. When their grapes produced consistently excellent wine for four successful vintages, we decided that this vineyard should supply all of the Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre grapes for Navarro's red wine program.
Punching down Syrah in an open-top fermentor. Notice the ice forming in the foreground tank; warm grapes ferment quickly, so if grapes we receive from a distance are warm, or if the fermenting must is too hot, we turn on the cooling on our open-top tanks so that we don't have a runaway fermentation. Wine judge Rich Cook on the Grenache: “Bright cherry fruit, joined by fall spice, white pepper and a touch of citrus are lively and fresh. 96 points.”
During our blending trials, we found that the Syrah was improved with a 24% addition of the softer Grenache, and the Grenache tasted best with a 15% addition of Syrah's backbone. Both wines are 100% Dark Horse and 100% from biodynamically grown grapes. Gold Medal winner and Best of Class, bottled unfiltered to preserve it's beauty.