2006 Navarro Brut Sparkling Wine

2006 Navarro Brut Sparkling WinePrice: $25.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per Navarro Vineyards “Most winemakers focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for sparkling wine but Navarro admits to a rebel streak. In 1989 we made our first sparkling Gewürztraminer and fans still ask when we’ll make more. This is our third bottling. We don’t make it every vintage because most years we are fairly confident that we will get our grapes to 24° Brix, perfect for our signature still Gewürz. In 2006 we weren’t sure. The vintage was cold and late and the grapes had already turned a lovely ripe, russet color at only 20° Brix. Just as importantly, it was one of the rare vintages where we had several blocks of Gewürztraminer with no millerandage; all the berries were normal-sized two-seeded berries. The ratio of free-run juice to skins was high, promoting fine flavors, clean aromas and high natural acidity, perfect for sparkling wine. We decided to celebrate with this bottling. We blended 10% Chardonnay into the cuvée to strengthen the wine’s backbone. Delicate peach and spice in the aromas and flavors combined with fresh baked-bread yeastiness and a dazzling citrusy finish. Silver Medal winner.”

What I Think:

Gewurzt, interesting. This one came in my last wine club shipment, only the 3rd time they’ve actually made it since 1989. Offers a nice sweetness that isn’t quite as cloyey as usual. Fizzing and yeasty with a bit of citrus on the backbone. Hints of crisp apple notes appear sporadically throughout. Full disclaimer, I’m not a huge fan of Champagne so dropping $25 is pretty much never in the picture. If that seems reasonable to you, definitely get this one. Certainly enjoyable, I’d just rather buy a nice bottle of red…

Rating: Pricey

2006 Copain “L’Automne” Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

Price: $19.99 @ K&L Wines

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Made from 100% pinot noir from the Anderson Valley, this is yet another release from rising star winemaker Wells Guthrie. Completely destemmed and cold soaked for five days, the grapes were fermented using their native yeasts, finishing malolactic fermentation in a combination of new and used French oak barrels (15% new/remainder twice used). But enough with the technical mumbo-jumbo. This is simply a great value in the world of pinot noir. So many pinots these days have well surpased the $30 dollar mark leaving this loved varetial unaffordable for most “everyday drinkers.” Well look no further. This bright tangy pinot is full of freshly cut roses and spiced orange peel aromatics. Turning to more lip-smacking pomegranate fruit and a deep core of supple black cherry on the palate, this is a crowd pleasing pinot sure to quench most peoples deepest thirsts. (Bryan Brick, K&L)”

What I Think:

I am predisposed to Anderson Valley based on years of Navarro Pinot Noir’s exceeding expectations. When my wife bought me this one for our anniversary I was keen to give it a try. After cheffing up an, what turned out to be, awesome steak tenderloin filet this was on the table for pairing. And boy what a pairing it was. Earth on nose, nice harmonious red fruit on the palate and just getting better with every sip. Incredibly elegant at the end, if only there was some left.

Rating: Wow!

2002 Navarro Anderson Valley Pinot Gris

Price: $12.60 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery Refreshingly vibrant, with lovely floral aromas of creamy nectarine, with a touch of fresh grain and fennel. Crisp, dry and intense, with pear and orange fruit and a finish that fans out. – Wine Spectator, May 15, 2004.

What I Think:

Had this one nearly a month ago when friends came over for dinner. As I was in charge of cooking I missed the majority of this wine as it was served with snacks/appetizers. That said, I put my friend Paul in charge of writing this one up. Here is what he had to say:

Light nose, hint of lychee (his favorite descriptor by the way)
Strong citrus with sharp lemon on the start
Fade reveals hint of strawberry lingering longer than a typical white.

What I didn’t get him to do was rate and score it. That said I’ll repeat my rating from last time I had this wine and call it “Pricey”.

Rating: Pricey

2005 Navarro Anderson Valley Riesling

Price: $14.25 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “Navarro’s Riesling style has evolved over the last thirty years thanks to the increasing availability of better clones in California. When we started growing Riesling in the 70′s there wasn’t much choice of what to plant. Historically many California clones of this variety had been selected for high yields rather than high wine quality. We planted our first clonal trials of Riesling in 1990 when the nurseries started to have a wider choice available and now Navarro’s fields are planted to some of the world’s most flavorful clones. 84% of this wine was produced from Navarro’s expanded plantings; there’s bright apple and stone-fruit flavors that are reminiscent of ripe German Rieslings from the Rheinpfalz. Because we are now starting with more flavorful grapes, we’ve found ourselves crafting drier versions of Riesling but a drier finish requires careful winemaking in order to avoid extracting astringency from the skins, seeds or stems. After destemming, the free-run juice was cool fermented in oak ovals where it rested on the lees for six months, contributing to a rich mouth feel and hints of charcuterie.

There is a tad of residual sugar but it’s just enough to balance Riesling’s naturally high acidity; the wine finishes deliciously tart and dry with no perceptible sweetness. The captivating floral bouquet has just a touch of Germanic petrol and the lush flavors hint at apple, tangerine and apricot. Try it with thinly sliced Westphalia ham on pumpernickel. Prost! Gold Medal winner.”

What I Think:

The winery called this one “Quest” in reference to their long journey towards developing the desired style for their bottling. I left the majority of what they said though it wasn’t directly related to this wine as I found it interesting.

This wine was very pale in color, on opening like the Pinot I had a few day backs, this one didn’t jump out of the bottle at you. It took the subtler approach and grows on you over time. What do you reckon that means, when the wine shows such a drastic improvement with just a bit of air? Should Navarro have kept these out of the bottle for a bit longer? Should I have kept it in the bottle a little longer? Or would neither have mattered and the wines just needed air… This always makes me wonder if I catch a wine at an “in-between” time. This is purely conjecture but I think when some wines are bottled they offer a drinking window before closing up to become to age a bit, again becoming drinkable at a later time. That wouldn’t seem to make sense here as it is such a young wine. It was bottled only 10 months ago. Back to the wine, one interesting thing was that it never had much of a nose at all. In fact I was trying so hard to pick something up I got my nose wet a few times. Initially the taste was hard to discern but there was certainly a tart, racy finish. It seemed a bit of lemon leading on to a mineral like finish. As it opened this went from the dominant force in the wine to a mere afterthought as the texture became more supple apples, pears and a hint of peach (or is apricot, nectarine…) came to the front before fading to that same tart, minerally end. . Looking above I see a mention of tangerine; have to remember that one moving forward.

Hmm, now for the rating part. This is a really nice wine. It was great with the Asian fare and held up to some Mexican a few nights later. Just not sure that I am willing to pay this price unless my socks are knocked off. Especially with the similar structured and tasting Marcel Hugg wines available at TJ’s. I feel like I am slighting this one by calling it “Pricey”. Maybe the winery should have called this on “Tough break”.

Rating: Pricey

2004 Navarro Gewurztraminer Estate Bottled Dry

Price: $14.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Exceptional. Perfect floral, spice and rose petal/gardenia aroma. Drier than most prior vintages, a classic. Do not miss. Winery only. Gold Medal Winner. – Dan Berger’s Vintage Experiences, July 21, 2005.

Wine of the Week. An off dry, showy, spicy gewürztraminer. Has a good concentration of peach and citrus fruit. Aroma of rose petal. A lively, refreshing finish. Great pick for Thanksgiving dinner. – Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 9, 2005.

What I Think:

This is a bottle that I always look forward to opening. Navarro makes their gewurzt in the Alsacian style so it is not of sweet variety that you typically find when grabbing a local bottling of this grape. It has a very nice boquet of flowers that I can’t distinguish but you can recognize the mineral undertones even in the nose. We typically pair this with a spicy dish, something Indian or Thai and it is wonderful, though given its dryness it has far more versatility than your typical Gewurzt. Keep your eye open for this bottle in the local San Francisco ethnic restaurants I have seen it quite a bit. If you find it order without hesitation and enjoy!

Rating: Wow!

2002 Navarro Pinot Gris

Price: $14.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Refreshingly vibrant, with lovely floral aromas of creamy nectarine, with a touch of fresh grain and fennel. Crisp, dry and intense, with pear and orange fruit and a finish that fans out. – Wine Spectator, May 15, 2004.

What I Think:

So this wine has been waiting to get written up for a while and I haven’t quite known how to approach it. Sometime back while at the Navarro barbeque we decided to splurge on a couple cases of wine. Not sure how this one snuck in there. Perhaps with the weather and food it seemed like a good idea at the time. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good wine but as far as their whites go I would put it in the bottom half, granted they set the scale pretty high. It had a nice crisp taste with some soft fruits on top of a mineral backbone that lingered. It certainly wasn’t scoffed at while on the table. Just given a second chance at this price I would be grabbing their Edelzwicker and that is just because I am already stocked up on the Gewurzt.

Rating: Pricey

2004 Navarro Pinot Noir Methode Alancienne

Price: $25.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per Wine Spectator “My favorite Navarro Pinot of all time. High-toned black cherry and wild berry flavors are intense and concentrated, with hints of hazelnut and spice. Wonderful balance, focus and length. Should age well, too.” – James Laube, January, 10 2007 (92 points, $25)

What I Think:

The winery called this one the “Rural Legend”. I have tasted this back to 1996 and have a few cases worth of bottles from various years in my cellar. Perhaps a time to show that I am truly just a consumer. While Mr. Laube lauds it as the best ever I am pessimistic. Perhaps it will get better with age but for the time being this seems much “thinner” than what I am used to for this bottling. The typical flavor profile as I recall is intense cherry fruit towards the front that fades to a more herbal finish that lingers on. This one doesn’t quite seem to peak as high as I remember. That said, they deserve the benefit of the doubt on this one (as long as I don’t have to pay for another bottle).  I will taste it again when I go to their annual barbeque in August.

Rating: Not for Me (for the time being)

2001 Navarro Pinot Noir Methode Alancienne

Price: $23.00 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “Delicate floral scents edge this pinot, its light but piercingly long flavors extended by the cool, coastal nights of the Anderson Valley. The texture is firm, the flavors are crisp as red apple and tart as tangerine. Dusty tannins in the end will focus those flavors on veal and mushrooms. – Wine & Spirits Magazine, “The Year’s Best Pinot Noir”, January 2004.

Fresh and fragrant, with snappy black cherry and wild berry fruit that offers a hint of jam. Focused and persistent, with fine-grained tannins, and a whiff of blueberry on the finish adding to the complexity. Drink now through 2008. – James Laube, Wine Spectator, April 30, 2004.

What I Think:

Ahh, your first love. Had to go back to it for my first post. I found Navarro way back when I stumbled upon my first Wine Spectator. I could go get the article as I still have it upstairs now. I believe James Laube wrote it. Anyhow soon after we headed up to Mendocino and stopping there was priority #1 and #2. Don’t tell the wife as the purpose of the trip was to write wedding vows. The first night we went to a great restaurant and had dinner outside on the patio and a bottle of the 1999 vintage. Two days later we were at the winery (this is in 2003) joined the club and to some extent the rest is history. I have since started a vertical of this wine and have at least one bottle all the way back to 1996. They make three different versions with this being the mid range. The basic is the low end and the the “Deep End” is the top. Unfortunately you can find this wine pretty much only at the winery. I find it at some restaurants in the Bay Area, not sure if this is true elsewhere. Even saw it in a wine shop once.

Now onto the wine, this one is predisposed to a cellar rating as I have been working my way through a case over the years. This has most of what I love in a wine. It has cherries up front, in a very deep fashion that peak before fading into an herbal finish that lasts for quite some time.

Be sure to try Navarro wines and better yet stop by the winery if you can

Rating: Cellar It