Writing today’s column is a cruise down Easy Street. I’m a humongous fan of Navarro Winery from the cool confines of Mendocino’s Anderson Valley. I tried my first Navarro wine, probably their Gewurztraminer, 25 years ago. I’ve been a disciple ever since.
I’ll give you my four Navarro picks from their recent release in a second. Before getting all sappy with my wine descriptions, I’ll lay it out nice and clear for you:
1) The Navarro wines are fantastic values across the board with many wines priced between $20 and $30 per bottle.
2) If you want to drink Navarro at home, you must buy from the winery. They are the only retailer for their wines in California.
3) Navarro is offering 1 cent per case shipping to everyone for the rest of the year. Buy the mixed case I suggest below, get 10% off the wines and pay a penny for delivery. Now that’s Easy Street.
A majority of the Navarro wines are made from their 45-year-old estate vineyards in Anderson Valley. 80% of what they make is sold direct to consumer, with the other 20% sold to restaurants and out-of-state distributors. Eliminate the middlemen, keep the prices down and still make the moolah to pay 80 full-time employees a good wage with benefits. That’s the model that has served Navarro well since the mid-1970s.
I suggest the following four wines from Navarro’s fall release. You have three Alsace varieties and a Pinot Noir. Price for three bottles of each, including discount and 1 cent to ship, before sales tax, is $297.01. Or hoe your own road and assemble a case from their extensive selection (around 35 different wines made each vintage). It’s about what you like, of course, but I think the four wines below best show the quality and originality of Navarro. Order online at NavarroWine.com, call them at 1-800-537-9463 or pay them a visit. The tasting room is a leisurely two-hour drive from Napa and they don’t charge to taste. Who remembers the days of no-fee tastings in Napa? My picks:
Navarro Dry Muscat Blanc, “Estate Bottled” Anderson Valley 2018
- . $22 and a Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor “Great Value.” It dances across the palate with energy and perfect freshness. Very tangy … some may call it tart … and light bodied. I love this wine with both fresh and fried Thai spring rolls as it complements each preparation in a different way. I pity the fools who shut their minds on this fantastic wine.
Navarro Riesling “Deep End” Anderson Valley 2018
- , at $29 it’s a DDWA “Awesome Value.” Gorgeous wine cascading with Granny Smith apple, tropical fruits, honeycomb and lemongrass smells and flavors. Rich and lush with a long, expansive, slightly off-dry finish that is perfect with strong sausages, smoked ham and caramelized onions. This is ridiculously under-valued.
Navarro Dry Gewurztraminer “Estate Bottled” Anderson Valley 2018
- . $24, a DDWA “Great Value.” True to its name, this is dry and “gewurz-y,” or spicy. Medium/light bodied, less floral and less overwhelming than many Gewurztraminers of this high caliber, which from a consumer perspective I suspect is to its benefit. This wine is too damn easy to drink.
Navarro Pinot Noir “Méthode a l’Ancienne” Anderson Valley 2017
- . $35 and a DDWA “Great Value.” Cool, fresh wild red cherries and black tea. Perfectly ripe, bright acidity and smooth as glass. I like how the fruity flavors shine at a modest 13.3% alcohol level. If you’re going to drink this soon, consider choosing the 2016 “Méthode a l’Ancienne” Pinot Noir over the 2017 for the same price. The 2016 has darker fruit flavors and the extra year of bottle age makes a difference. Both vintages are available from Navarro.
Wine TipThe best Happy Hour bang for your buck in Napa Valley? I vote for The Q Restaurant in the Bel Aire Plaza. Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m.: all wines half price. (50% off all beers and cocktails too). The Q offers a solid list of 70 wines, focusing on Napa, Sonoma and Burgundy. My top three choices are Lagier Meredith Tribidrag (Zinfandel), $59 ($29.50 at Happy Hour), Dehlinger Syrah $48 ($24) and Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc $78 ($39). FYI, these Happy Hour prices are lower than any retail price. Stop by and let The Q know my wine tip got you there!
I’m Dan Dawson, a Napa Valley wine writer and recovering wine merchant. You can read more of my wine recommendations at DawsonWineAdvisor.com. If you visit, please check out my membership program. Contact me through my website with questions and comments.
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