It dawned on us sometime in the early eighties that the Anderson Valley was capable of producing outstanding Pinot Noir. We had spent the previous decade concentrating on improving our winemaking equipment and skills, learning to match just the right French barrels with our fruit. It became obvious that focusing on building state-of-the art vineyards was equally important. Fruit and wine quality benefits when vines are under moderate water stress which is why deep fertile soils generally produce mediocre wines. Highly regarded vineyards are well-drained. In three of our new vineyard sites we went as far as installing multiple gravel-filled drain lines feeding into an underground culvert so that the fields would dry out quickly after a storm. Navarro's recent planting are newly favored clones. We also planted double, sometimes triple, the usual number of vines per acre so each vine has a third of the fruit to ripen and is able to get it done faster and better. The vineyard crew takes pains during the growing season.
Every year we take measurements in the winery to track the progress of fermentations but we've had less data on vineyard clones. Sarah's recent Master's degree research shows that clones have measurable differentiating traits that are consistent across different vineyard sites. We've long known that clones taste slightly different but now we have actual measurements. Pinot Noir clone 4 tastes like Pinot of course but there are also flavors suggestive of strawberry and cinnamon. Clone 115 has a broader mid-palate and the aromas tend more towards raspberry.
Navarro's fermenting Pinot Noir is punched down by hand several times a day; the crew often sees both the sun and moon rise from the crush pad. Because we keep the lots separate we have learned which clones thrive and produce the best wines in Navarro's micro-climates . This wine was made from 14 lots representing 9 clones: 20% 667, 19% 13, 15% 4, 10% 114, 10% 777, 9% Chalone, 8% 115, 6% 113, 3% Wente.
Every shoot on every vine is manually positioned sunward for maximum photosynthesis and all these shoots are supported by multiple catch wires on steel trellising. Eighty percent of the fruit in this bottling came from these new high-tech estate vineyards, and the balance is from reliable neighbors with whom Navarro has long term contracts. The wine was aged for 11 months in new and one-year-old French barrels. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.
It takes a lot of trenching to help a field composed of gravelly clay drain efficiently in the Anderson Valley.