I became a big fan of Navarro Vineyards during this past summer’s vacation trip to the Mendocino Coast. Our route took us up Highway 128, through Anderson Valley, one of the prime wine producing areas in Mendocino County. Naturally, we had to stop for some wine tasting.
Flashback to 25 years earlier. We actually lived in Mendocino County, in the Ukiah Valley, just down the road from notable producers like Fetzer and Parducci. Alas, despite living in one of the great wine regions in the world, my wine journey had not yet begun. Certainly, my wife and I appreciated the beauty of the vineyards, enjoying the changes of the seasons and watching the birds swarm overhead during harvest. However, we partook of the end product only on rare occasions. During the five years we lived there, we took frequent day trips to the coast, usually opting for the route through Anderson Valley. Thus, though we’d driven past Navarro Vineyards dozens of times, we had never stopped in.
Returning to the summer of 2015…and am I ever glad we chose to stop at Navarro Vineyards! Navarro Vineyards began operation in 1974, and remains an independent, family-owned winery. This allows them to produce small-batch, hand-crafted wines. Everything I tasted was excellent. (In this post I’m reviewing their Red Blend, Navarrouge, but if you get a chance, try their Grenache. It’s the best I’ve ever had!) The tasting room is small and cozy, while the grounds include a large deck, a beautiful lawn, and a vine-covered pergola providing shade for a picnic area. The deck overlooks the lawn, vineyards, and the rolling hills beyond. The tasting room staff is among the friendliest, and most knowledgeable I’ve had the pleasure to meet. As an added bonus, and a refreshing change when visiting wine country, tasting is complimentary, and the entire tasting menu is available to all visitors.
Navarrouge is their Red Blend. The 2013 blend is 40% Zinfandel, 27% Pinot Noir, 16% Grenache, 13% Carignane, 3% Syrah & 1% Mourvèdre. In years past, the blend was more Syrah-centric, but the winemaker decided to sub-in Pinot Noir as the second in the lineup. The resulting wine is light, fresh, and delicious!
From the Navarrouge 2013 web page:
Zinfandel and Pinot Noir constitute 67% of this vintage with four other varieties making up the balance, in order of importance: Grenache, Carignane, Syrah and Mourvèdre. Each lot was fermented in open-top tanks then racked to seasoned French oak barrels to finish malolactic fermentation and age for 10 months. In late July 2014, Navarro’s tasting panel decided on the final blend; the Navarrouge was bottled a month later in August. Medium bodied backed with soft tannins and flavors suggesting plum, blackberry and cranberry.
Here’s what I thought when I tasted it at home last night:
This is a delicious, unique red blend! The color is light brick, with bright clarity. A plethora of aromas and flavors tantalize – raspberry, cranberry, bramble, white pepper, baking spice, and hints of licorice and new oak. Medium bodied, the tannins are light and there is lively acidity. The finish goes on and on, berries and spice. It’s mostly Zin (40%), Pinot Noir (27%), and Grenache (16%), and Carignan (13%) with a splash of Syrah & Mourvèdre. The best of all of them combine to really shine!
Purchased from Navarro Vineyards, $16
Rated 4 out of 5 stars
Navarro Vineyards wines are not available in stores. To visit the winery (highly recommended), there’s a map below. You can also order online, or speak to one of their exceptionally helpful staff by phone!