In the Champagne region of France there is a tradition of blending Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier to produce a sparkling wine with no one particular varietal character, rather a neutral or blanc flavor profile. Ooh la la! Navarro undoubtedly has raised the eyebrows of traditionalists with this Gewürztraminer sparkler which displays delicate varietal aromatics of lychee and spice even though the grapes were picked at a moderate level of ripeness as befits a sparkler. We made our first sparkling Gewürztraminer in 1989; we thought a Gewürz bubbly would be fun with the kinds of foods available in a diverse culture like the United States.
In most years, Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer clusters contain a mixture of large two-seeded berries and small one seeded berries. The juice to skin ratio in a small berry makes it less desirable for a delicate sparkler. This is only the fourth we've produced; the clusters in 2009 were all full sized berries, an ideal year for a sparkling Gewürztraminer
Canada geese frequently visit Navarro's pond adjacent to our Gewürztraminer fields. We don't use synthetic insecticides or herbicides, so the fields and ponds are safe places to grow a new family.
The grapes, a selection from Navarro's Pond, East Hill and North Hill, were harvested on three separate days before the sun peeked over the mountains. The temperature at dawn was less than 40°F so the grapes arrived at the winery intact and very cold. We whole cluster pressed the fruit, separating juice from skins quickly to minimize astringent flavanols. The first squeeze juice was cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged sur lie (on its own yeast) until the following spring. The still wine was then tiraged (bottled with some sugar and yeast); the second fermentation in the bottle produced the bubbles. The bottles were aged on the yeast for another 12 months adding a little toastiness to the delicately floral Gewürztraminer fruit. Lychee and yeasty flavors would pair well with tarte flambée, burrata with prosciutto or rillettes on crostini.