Clones and rootstocks affect wine aromas and flavors. Consequently, Navarro's Chardonnay plantings feature multiple clones and rootstocks in order to produce an Anderson Valley Chardonnay with a full range of Chardonnay fruit flavors. The two clones with the most obvious differences are ENTAV 76 and ENTAV 548. In our vineyards ENTAV 76, the better producer of the two, yields aromatic wines hinting of citrus blossom and spring herbs with flavors suggesting citrus and poached pear backed up by lively acidity. ENTAV 548 is a shy producer with many of its shoots producing only one small cluster rather than the typical two.
Paola night-harvesting fruit in Navarro's oldest Chardonnay block. The field was planted before we had much vineyard experience and the vines were cordon-trained on a high trellis; this seemed logical for someone over six feet tall, but the height has proven more challenging for shorter pickers. Our later vineyards were designed with a more picker-friendly trellis height.
Harvesting Hammer Olsen Chardonnay grapes at sunrise. Each bin holds about a half-ton of fruit and in vintages with a full crop, a gifted picker can fill three to four bins in an eight-hour period.
The resulting wines produced are less aromatic than those produced from clone 76, but they are rich and full-bodied with flavors of apple and tropical fruit. Since the wines from these two clones complement each other so well, in 2010 we replanted the field by our tasting room, divided into five blocks, each featuring either clone 76 or 548 grafted onto two different rootstocks. The grapes from the Tasting Room field constitute 71% of this bottling with additional grapes from the Hammer Olsen and Pond vineyards. The fruit from each block was destemmed and pressed, and fermentation of the juice was started in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, then racked midway to French oak barrels—32% new—to finish primary and malolactic fermentations and to age for eight months sur lie in barrels. Gold Medal winner.