In 2000, we rented a gîte in the rural French village of Loubressac for a summer vacation. One of the joys of France is the dazzling assortment of delicious home-grown foods available at the local farmer's markets. Breads, cheeses, eggs, meats, fruit, veggies, condiments and yummy sweets are readily available but we typically would travel to the closest supermarché for our wine selections. What blew us away was the extensive selection of rosé wines; frequently a wider selection than either red or white still wines! In California, there wasn't a wide selection of rosé wines and what was available were typically ponderous and sweet, but the rosé wines from the south of France were dry, refreshing and delightful. We drank our share of these wines during our stay and we returned to Philo, rested and excited about the prospect of crafting a dry rosé. In 2002, we produced Navarro's first dry rosé; a cuvée of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah.
Sarah, Emilia and Zoë cleaning the pomace out of a wine-press. The white surface on the left is a canvas bag that inflates like a balloon, gently pressing the grapes against the stainless steel surface on the right. The juice escapes through the slots in the stainless steel drum and is collected in a juice pan under the press.
Debbie Pallini with her father Ed in the Grenache vineyard that produced this exceptional rosé. These ancient vines, for whatever reason, produce excellent rosé wines and have been the cornerstone of Navarro's Mendocino Rosé program every year since 2002.
We were surprised by how many people were reluctant to even taste it; this should not have been a surprise given the reputation for syrupy pink wines in California. A lot has changed since then. Dry rosé wines are now well accepted and we've gained experience making these wines. The base wine is still produced from Pallini's ancient Grenache vines, but we've replaced the heavier Syrah component with a crisper, minerally old-vine Carignane. At a recent tasting, Navarro's staff was most impressed by the length and persistence of the snappy strawberry-guava flavors. Gold Medal winner. Best of Show.