We described the various Anderson Valley viticultural microclimates in the 2016 Pinot Gris story, but there are vineyard climate differences even within a particular microclimate. Perhaps the most dramatic display of this is Navarro's Campsite Riesling. Before we built a house in Philo (many moons ago) we camped out in a tent. The place where we located our summer tent was a field with hills on three sides, close to a stream at the bottom of two canyons. The canyons are forested and rise 1200 feet above the field. During the summer months, cool air drains off the forests into the sheltered field; this natural “air conditioning” can cool the field by up to ten degrees on a hot day, which is why we chose to camp here.
A Riesling cluster with cobweb and spider. Nature always finds a way to fill every environmental niche. Spiders are predators and help maintain a balanced insect community at Navarro; we regard arachnids as welcome allies.
Eduardo positioning shoots in Navarro's Campsite Riesling. This “Lyre” trellis was developed in the late 1960s at the University of Montpellier, France, and was computer modeled to maximize solar efficiency. The vine's head is split into two panels of leaves about three feet apart at the base, progressing to five feet apart at the top of the canopy. Eduardo is actually inside the trellis to train the shoots on both sides.
Several years later we decided to plant Riesling at the same location but the site is so cool that it is our last field to ripen. One third of this bottling came from a warm site on the Philo valley floor harvested on September 10. Two thirds of the grapes were harvested over two weeks later from our cooler Campsite field which is planted, for complexity, to three Riesling clones. We followed Navarro's aromatic white winemaking protocol by fermenting and aging the wines sur lie in refrigerated oak casks for eight months, but with this vintage we decided to bottle the wine considerably drier than any preceding vintage, resulting in a shimmering moonlight sonata of bright flavors: an alluring mixture of beeswax, white nectarine and marzipan aromas with an amazingly dry, focused finish. Gold Medal winner.