Navarro fans know to hurry when ordering Chardonnay Table Wine. Scrumptious Chardonnay at a reasonable price always sells out quickly. But Navarro never hurries production and this wine was well vetted before blending. By the time Philo Chardonnay was ripe enough to harvest in the wet, cool '07 season some of the clusters were tainted with botrytis. The noble rot is fine in sweet wines but adds unwanted astringency to Chardonnay. We culled out the rotted clusters and, as in 2006, selectively picked the fields keeping the ripest sections separate. The wines were tasted in the spring and we decided that about 20% of our production would not be bottled by Navarro; it was sold as bulk wine.
In 2006 we installed two weather stations that upload current weather and climatic conditions to satellite which we can access from any computer. This helps us predict mildew and monitor the amount of water the vines are using. The information proved indispensable in 2008. Half of our carefully collected winter rainwater had been consumed for frost protection in the spring. During summer each vine received exactly enough water but no more, allowing Navarro to stretch its limited irrigation supply. We ran out of water in early September 2008, a few weeks before harvest began.
Rot was starting to spread by the time we began harvesting Chardonnay. We separated rotted fruit from the perfect clusters and then segregated each section of the field by ripeness.
Then we assembled our Première Reserve blend utilizing the ripest lots from our best fields, but the less ripe sections of our best fields tasted pretty darn good since we treated all the grapes from our favorite fields the same way. It's no surprise that both wines have a similar flavor profile. Less than half a percent difference in ripeness of the grapes separates the Première Reserve from the Table Wine, even though the Table Wine is about half the price. Apple-pear fruit is backed up by toasty oak and a hint of buttered bread. We bottled a third less this year than last and expect to be sold out quickly. No wonder. The ground freight on a case only costs one penny! Silver Medal winner.
The Chardonnay lots that comprise this cuvée were all fermented and aged in French oak barrels and rested on the lees for 9 months.