Chardonnay is typically produced with grapes from two distinct appellations: Anderson Valley and the more inland Potter Valley. Unfortunately, the smoke from 2020 wildfires in Potter Valley ruined most grapes, including the Chardonnay destined for Navarro. As a result, all the grapes in this vintage were grown at Navarro and at our next-door neighbor. Despite the 2020 grapes coming from many of the same vineyards as the Reserve
, this Mendocino
bottling tastes quite different. The Reserve
is fermented and aged in new and seasoned barrels without any ability to chill the fermenting wine.
These vines were planted in 1977 in the ridge block and the vineyard is still productive in 2022. Navarro has purchased wine grapes, including Chardonnay, for our
Mendocino bottling from Valley Foothills since 1978.
Jim and Casey Hartlip inspecting Chardonnay vines at Valley Foothills Vineyard.
The Mendocino is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, then racked to barrels, mostly seasoned, to age for nine months. The result is that all the aromas, flavors and fruitiness of the vineyard are front and center in the Mendocino. Aging in barrels for nine months has given structure to the wine but seasoned barrels don't add enough oak to hide the vineyard flavors. Only a small portion of the wines in the Mendocino bottling are put through malolactic fermentation so this wine has a little more acidity than the Reserve. Both 2020 Chardonnays are equally dry but the Mendocino highlights fruit forward flavors of poached pear and tropical fruit with whiffs of honey, toast and vanilla from fine French oak. Double Gold Medal winner. 96 points.