2005 Navarro Mendocino Pinot Noir

Price: $14.25 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “We’ve been in the wine business for over thirty years so we have seen some pretty wild swings in supply and demand. In 1974 people thought we were foolish planting Pinot Noir in the Anderson Valley especially since the experts had previously recommended Cabernet Sauvignon and French Colombard. Our decision has since been validated as vineyard after vineyard in the Anderson Valley is now being planted with Pinot Noir. The downside of the popularity and growing reputation of Anderson Valley Pinot is that the price of the grapes has skyrocketed. Check out the competition; it is hard to find a Pinot Noir for less than $20. If you try to buy a French Burgundy you will be paying twice, thrice and upward. Despite consistently selling out of Pinot Noir we are committed to keeping prices reasonable so that all of our good customers from our earlier, leaner years can still afford Navarro wines. 89% of this wine was grown right here in the Anderson Valley.

It was aged for ten months in seasoned French oak barrels adding toast and vanilla flavors to Pinot’s berry and plum core. You shouldn’t have to plan a white-tie dinner to open a bottle of Pinot Noir; this wine tastes great when you are garbed in blue jeans and a tee shirt. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.”

What I Think:

The winery called this one “Fanfare for the common man”. It seems that they are finding it increasingly difficult to make a Pinot at this price point given the varietals overall trajectory especially coupled with the growing acclaim of the Anderson Valley and Mendocino in this arena. Given that I enjoyed the ’04, still have half a case or so, I was looking forward to getting into this one.

In a word this wine is delicate. You can tell from the second you see it in the glass. The color is very light. On the nose again you get light fruit and once on the palate further confirmed, as strawberry and raspberry appear front and center. We had this with salmon which was a worthy pairing though the yogurt sauce my wife often uses through it some fits. On day 2 the wine was showing a little more, it had integrated nicely and was much more well rounded. You get a big nose full of cherries and loads of light fruit forward on the tongue. The mid-palate starts to show some vanilla and other qualities I would describe as almost barrel like which linger on through the finish. Still a bit left so perhaps I will open one of those ‘04’s for a side by side comparison…See the 2004 write-up if you are interested in the results. All in all, this wine is a quality effort though not on the same level as a year earlier. I have a few $10 bottles of Pinot waiting in the rack that I would have to imagine are on the same level as this one so I’m going to call it “Pricey”.

Rating: Pricey

2000 Navarro Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $22.80 direct from the winery

What They Said:

Per the winery “It’s rich and chewy with whiffs of cedar, mint and tobacco; a great match for slowly simmered Sauerbraten. Gold Medal winner. Best of Class.”

What I Think:

This was the second bottle from that aforementioned dinner party, so while I am operating mainly from my general perceptions of what this wine was like rather than the detailed insight I usually hope (hope being the key word) to provide. My general impression on this wine is that I blew it! I should have emailed Ed over at Navarro to see if this one was ready for drinking like he recently told me to do with my ’97 Pinots. This one was certainly not quite as hoped, it had yet to round out and most of the fruit seem closed. I thought with some time maybe it would open up but it didn’t occur. Perhaps I caught it at a bad time; it seems likely that I should have let it lie longer. What I do remember is waiting for the fruit; the winery wrote that they declassified the majority of this vintage so perhaps that does some of the explaining for me. They gave this wine a slogan of “Slow Motion”; I should have kept that in mind when I want to grab it!

Rating: Not for Me

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