This 2017 Mendocino Chardonnay was produced from grapes grown in three different appellations and climates within Mendocino County. We are used to dealing with the microclimates within Anderson Valley and are familiar with its general weather patterns, but Potter Valley and Redwood Valley are more inland and less ocean-influenced than Anderson Valley. The effect on grape flavor due to the warmer, shorter growing season is the reason we purchase grapes from Potter and Redwood Valleys. For example, the Chardonnay fruit profile of the wine produced from Potter Valley grapes—melon and red apple—is different from Anderson Valley's pear, citrus and green apple profile. This medley of fruit-driven flavors is what helps make the Mendocino bottling both succulent and interesting. However, purchasing grapes from other climates can also produce challenges.
Tasting Chardonnay in front of Navarro's heavy-medal display. Wine judge Rich Cook, wrote: “A favorite producer of mine, and a severely underrated Chardonnay maker at that. This is their mid-line offering, but there's nothing middling about it. Balanced citrus, peach and apple aromas and flavors show off the region, and ride a wave of freshening acidity through a long finish where a subtle kiss of oak spice pops nicely. Eminently quaffable!” A Platinum Award winner at the 2018 Sommelier Challenge International Wine & Spirits
Jim and Casey inspecting a recent planting. Casey Hartlip is the vineyard manager for our next-door neighbor, Valley Foothills Vineyard, where part of the Chardonnay in this bottling was grown.
One problem that presents itself is knowing when to schedule bins to arrive. Since growers pick into Navarro's half-ton bins, we have to arrange for the bins to arrive the day before harvest—easier said than done given how Chardonnay ripening dates can vary. In 2016 the Potter Valley fruit was harvested two weeks before Navarro's Tasting Room Chardonnay block, while in 2017 only three days separated the two harvests, which made processing more frenzied. The juice from each vineyard was cool-fermented then aged in seasoned French oak barrels for nine months prior to blending and bottling. As the man said: “Eminently quaffable!”Platinum Medal winner.
Chris racking raw wine into barrels. We age most of our Mendocino Chardonnay in seasoned French oak barrels rather than new ones. This way the oak flavors remain in the background and don't conceal the enticing Chardonnay flavors.