• Okay, so I went to two tastings in the last week. One tasting was “Union des Grand Crus de Bordeaux” a tasting of a large portion of 2008 Bordeauxs and the second was a tasting of California wines from a portfolio called “In Vino Unitas.” The Bordeaux tasting was fabulous, but I wish to discuss the California tasting first.

    It was at the St Francis Yacht club in San Francisco. A warm 65 degree early January day with a view to die for.

    Some of the big names at the tasting were Grgich Hills, Heitz, Navarro and Nickel & Nickel. Of these my favorites were Navarro and Nickel & Nickel.

    Navarro is a winery located in Mendocino that sells nearly all of its wine to consumers at the winery or through their wine shipping program. They also sell some to restaurants, but their isn’t a single store that I can think of that sells their wine.

    I’ve tasted their wines from vintage to vintage for the last five or six years and they make a consistently good product. They approach the wine with a family effort. When the harvest is hastened by an Indian Summer as was the case this past year it was all hands on deck working round the clock to pick the fruit before the sugar levels got too high and the acid levels too low. When the wine is made, everyone sits around having a blending party to mix various barrels with the intention of making a better tasting wine.

    While most vineyards import foreign labor for the majority of their harvesting. Navarro has so many long term employees that one of the greatest expenses they incur is health care they provide for the employees. I truly admire them for this. I also think the wine they produce is top notch.

    The 2009 Pinot Gris from Anderson Valley, Mendocino was tasty. It had a fullness to it, yet nicely crisp with some stone fruit and dried pear to boot.

    The 2007 Pinot Noir I tasted was light in body low in tannin with decent acidity and a little bit of plum and cherry.

    The star of the show was the 2006 cluster select late harvest Riesling. It was sweet, viscous, bright and tasted like a bee hive’s treasure.

    Great people and great wine at Navarro. I’ve been to another tasting since I last wrote (not the Bordeaux) that I’m going to tell you about very soon.

    – Jonathan Hood