2013 Wayfarer Pinot Noir Golden Mean

Year: 2013
Appellation: Fort Ross-Seaview, Sonoma County
Country: USA - California
Wine Spectator: 89
Wine Advocate: 92
Vinous Media: 94+
Jeb Dunnuck: 92+--Wine Enthusiast: 95
Red Wine
Alcohol by Volume: 14.5%
Price :

"Dense and powerful, with a potent, complex mix of extracted blackberry, dusty earth and herb, cedar and pencil lead flavors, ending with a massive tannic presence that veers toward dry and chewy. Best from 2016 through 2025. 550 cases made. –JL " (WS)

"The Golden Mean is made exclusively from Pommard and Swan clones. Medium to deep ruby colored, the 2013 Pinot Noir Golden Mean has a savory, sautéed herbs-led nose with earthy notes of mossy bark, loam and dried leaves over a gentle red currant jelly and raspberry tart core. The medium-bodied palate has a wonderfully firm, chewy texture that nicely corrals the vibrant red fruits and earthy layers, finishing with a refreshing lift.

One of the most impressive vineyard visits I’ve made this year was to the Wayfarer Vineyard in Sonoma Coast’s relatively newly formed Fort Ross-Seaview AVA (established in 2011). I cannot say that I’ve seen a happier looking vineyard in a long time, and by “happy” I refer to the immaculately trimmed, healthy, vivid green vines supporting well-balanced canopies and crop loads. And what a site! Apart from being incredibly remote, down a long, winding mountain road paved by gorgeous old redwoods and leading away from the Pacific Ocean, it’s perched fairly high in the mountains at about 1,100 feet. So, altitude and proximity to the ocean both have a cooling influence, which can be felt when you drive up from the warmer Sonoma plains. But don’t let the cool air fool you—this mountaintop vineyard is a real sun trap!

The 30-acre vineyard site was originally brought to the attention of Jayson Pahlmeyer of Pahlmeyer Estate in Napa by eagle-eyed Helen Turley, whose Marcassin vineyard is just down the road. The vineyard was designed and planted by David Abreu in 2002, exclusively to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There are twelve Pinot Noir clones and four Chardonnay clones planted, among which there are only five Dijon clones, the rest local heritage clones with the exception of the somewhat mysterious “Wayfarer” Pinot Noir “suitcase” clone. (Meaning, it arrived via someone’s suitcase from the motherland of Burgundy, presumably from a pretty snazzy vineyard there.)

The property is now adeptly managed by Cleo Pahlmeyer, Jayson’s daughter, while Bordeaux and Burgundy-trained Bibiana Gonzalez Rave is both winemaker and vineyard manager. Bibiana told me, “Acidity is naturally very low here, so all the wines go through 100% malolactic. All the clones are fermented separately and then a barrel selection is made for the wines—therefore not everything makes the Wayfarer grade.” Bibiana explained she makes all her winemaking decisions by taste, not by formula, which is absolute music to a wine critic’s ears.

I had the opportunity to taste through all the Wayfarer wines that Bibiana has made thus far, since she joined the winery in 2012—four vintages. Her sensitivity and bonding with this vineyard is clear in this outstanding collection of wines—brava! Regarding the newly released 2015s, she commented, “2015 crops were down 60% due to flowering, mainly the Pinot was affected.” Thin on the ground they may be, man are the 2015s good. Lovers of great Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is unquestionably a winery to start following. " (WA)

"The 2013 Pinot Noir Golden Mean is all about exuberance. Juicy dark cherries, plums, lavender and cloves burst from the glass as this resonant, radiant Pinot shows off its considerable personality and pedigree. The combination of Swan and Pommard clones here is hugely appealing. Exotic floral and spice notes add the final layers of nuance. Winemaker Bibiana Gonzalez-Rave was done with 35% whole clusters. Once again, the Golden Mean is superb." (VM)

"The 2013 Pinot Noir Golden Mean is a beautiful complete, tight, Burgundian-styled effort that needs to be left alone for another 2-3 years. Black cherry, violets, blueberry and sappy floral notes emerge from this medium to full-bodied, structured 2013 that has bright acidity, excellent concentration and plenty of length on the finish." (JD)

"Lush and velvety, this wine offers big, dark cherry flavor around a tangy minerality. From three vineyard blocks planted to Pommard and Swan clones, it balances opposites in the way full-bodied luxuriousness meets acidity-driven juiciness, creating a desire for more. Let this wine open in the glass or cellar through 2023." (WE)

Winery Notes:
Golden Mean is a union of contrasts: the earthy aromatics and powerful structure of the Pommard clone married with the elegance and alluring perfume of the Swan clone. This wine is an aromatic journey, beginning with floral notes of magnolia and lavender, leading to vibrant fruit tones of cranberry and mandarin, finishing with warm garden scents of marjoram and fresh anise. The velvet mouthfeel glides through a mid-palate rich with raspberries, rose hips and hints of black pepper and cedar. Ready to savor upon release, this wine will age beautifully for another 10-15 years.