Grapevine leaves can absorb what's in the air, including smoke, and store it in the growing material which can include the berries' skins and seeds. The grapes' juice remains smoke-free so while white wines aren't affected, in red wines—which require the skins to ferment along with the juice—the smoke can be extracted from the skins into the wine. The resulting wine initially displays little if any smoky quality, but as the wine ages the smoke becomes more obvious. In late August 2020, our Pinot Noir vines had a modest crop and the vines were well-tended with a full, green canopy. Everything looked in top shape (other than Covid work precautions) and we were confident that the upcoming harvest promised good quality. Then forest fires broke out in inland Mendocino; we became very concerned since we had a horrid experience with smoke taint in the 2008 vintage. We sprang into action, changed our picking schedule from whites to reds, and for the next few days harvested all the Pinot Noir blocks with ripe fruit. To avoid any chance of smoke taint, we decided to fashion our 2020 Méthode à l'Ancienne Pinot exclusively from vineyard sites harvested before smoke started to fill the air.
We age our Méthode à l'Ancienne Pinot in French oak barrels, a third new, for 10 months to add structure to the wine for long-term aging. We are most pleased with our Pinot barrels fashioned from Allier oak by Tonnellerie Remond in Beaune. The barrel's flavors mirror and seamlessly integrate with our Philo fruit without adding excessive oaky or charred flavors to obscure the Anderson Valley terroir.
Night harvesting Pinot Noir from the blocks adjacent to the winery. This field tends to ripen earlier than most and forms part of the 2020 Méthode à l'Ancienne cuvée.
This bottling is top-notch but unfortunately we could only bottle less than 40% of our normal production; this bottling will sell out in the next few months so don't miss this rescued gem. “Generous, deep black-cherry and clove flavors give this complex wine a rich expression, while mild tannins and a touch of tangy acidity form a great structure. Red cherry, toast and mint develop with time in the glass. It's a timeless classic from Navarro.” —?WineEnthusiast.com. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class. 96 points.
Dan, punching down Pinot Noir. Although manual punchdowns are much more labor intensive than fermenting in large tanks and using pumps, Méthode à l'Ancienne (the old-fashioned method) produces better wine when the cultivar is Pinot Noir.