Not being able to hug friends for almost a year has certainly degraded our sense of humor. Perhaps we've read too many newsletters and emails from wine retailers, but statements like “The Montrachet of Italy”—which some wine person wrote recently—somehow drove us bonkers. It might be a sensational Chardonnay, but there are only 20 acres on the planet where the white wine tastes like a Montrachet. Anyway, while on the subject of sensational Chardonnay, we should tout Navarro's non-Montrachet. For the last two decades we've replanted our vineyards with improved clones and have been impressed with the depth of flavors from Chardonnay clone ENTAV 548; consequently 50% of our newest Chardonnay vineyard is planted to this clone. It has become an increasingly larger part of our Première Reserve bottlings, but since it tastes spectacular and always produces a light crop—about 60% of normal—it is usually a candidate for our top-of-the-line Chardonnay.
Phil sanitizing barrels—bunghole down—using hot water and steam on a contraption that inserts a rotating nozzle inside the barrel through the hole.
Harvesting Hammer Olsen Chardonnay at dawn, September 2019
We barrel fermented our Chardonnay just like they do in Montrachet, in French oak barrels, but with Navarro modifications appropriate for our Philo vineyards. Our barrels—about 20% new for this bottling—are constructed from tight-grain French oak that is air dried for three years to avoid any green-wood flavors. The wine underwent a malolactic fermentation which softened the acidity and made the wine creamy, while the extended lees contact added roundness. It has Philo's signature of poached pear and lemon united with barrel flavors of vanilla, Asian spices and toast. Gold Medal winner.