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Wayfarer Wines Grab My Attention - Again

In October 2014, I led off the PinotFile with an article on the inaugural wines released from Wayfarer Vineyard located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA. I raved about the 2012 Wayfarer Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay then, and recently tasted the 2013 Wayfarer releases and I was captivated again. It is unprecedented for me to put a winery on the front page of the PinotFile twice within a year, but these wines are that good. The wines are expensive, but not unreasonably so given the challenges of farming on the edge and the extraordinary high quality of the wines.

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The Pinot Noirs in this vintage show slightly less extraction than in 2012 with more acidity. The wines are definitely picked on the ripe side. Oak is very well integrated. The differences among each of the bottlings is quite subtle but definitely present, and it is a privilege to taste them side by side which allows the nuances to be discovered.

2013 Wayfarer “Wayfarer Vineyard” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.5%, $90. 30 acres, 2 coastal ridges from the Pacific Ocean, Goldridge soils. A blend of 12 clones. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Very ripe berry and stone fruits on the nose with a hint of dark chocolate in the background. Satiny smooth on the palate, with a luxurious core of sweet black cherry and black raspberry fruits that are nicely spiced. Very expressive on the mid palate with a refreshing citrus-driven finish. Score: 90-91

2013 Wayfarer “Paige’s Ridge” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., $115. Named for Jason Pahlmeyer’s spouse Paige. Clone 667 grown on an eastern ridge. · Highly aromatic, with bright scents of black cherry, black raspberry, black tea and sous-bois. Soft in the mouth with a pleasing attack and finish, featuring mid weight flavors of black cherry and purple berries framed by integrated tannins. A little dark chocolate, earthiness and spice adds interest. The finish is expansive and persistent with a lively cut of acidity. When tasted two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the aromas persisted, as did the pleasing flavor richness. On the negative side, the fruit is more ripe than I prefer and a bit of heat shows up in the background. Score: 89-90

2013 Wayfarer “Golden Mean” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $115. Pommard and Swan clones. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Deep cherry aromas with added notes of earthy flora and dark mocha. Full-bodied attack of haunting black cherry and blackberry fruits married to a compliment of oak and finishing incredibly long. This wine has the longest finish of any Wayfarer Pinot Noir in this vintage, lasting over two minutes!. There is a favorable acid spine which adds vibrancy to the decadent fruit. The superlatives continued when tasted 2 days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle: rich, plush, ripe, cushy tannins, and a spectacular finish. My only nit is a hint of warmth on the finish. Score: 92-93

2013 Wayfarer “Mother Rock” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $115. Named for the sandstone substrate in this part of the vineyard. Clones 37 (Mt. Eden) and 777. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Somewhat muted nose that opens slowly over time in the glass to reveal aromas of Bing cherry, boysenberry and blackberry. Gorgeous flavor and finish in this mid weight plus wine featuring tastes of blackberry, ollaliberry, spice and gentle oak. Exquisite balance, supple tannins and a huge, generous finish that is dope. When tasted 2 days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the nose was still slightly muted, but the voluptuous fruit flavors bowled me over. Score: 93-94

2013 Wayfarer “The Traveler” Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $150. Made from a Burgundy suitcase clone. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Inviting perfume of black cherry, blackberry and earthy flora, picking up interest and intensity over time in the glass and holding forth even 2 days after opening. Very saucy, yet intriguing, with an array of sappy darker fruits that are refined and classy. The wine is quite young, even slightly brooding, but is clearly a tuxedo wine that has tremendous upside potential. A bit of earthiness and mushroom flavors are among the nuances. The finish is particular notable for its refreshing lift. Clearly the best Wayfarer Pinot Noir in this vintage. Score: 94-95

2013 Wayfarer “Wayfarer Vineyard” Fort Ross-Seaview Chardonnay

14.5% alc., $80. 4 clones. Unfined and unfiltered. · Light golden yellow color in the glass. Wonderful aromatic purity featuring scents of lemon curd, pineapple, marzipan and a hint of oak vanillin. This wine really makes a statement on the palate with a delicious array of citrus flavors augmented with notes of honey, caramel and vanilla. The flavors surprisingly build in intensity in the mouth, climaxing in an extended lemon drop party. Complimenting the gorgeous fruit core, there is a steely and saline-infused acidity in the background that gifts the wine crispness and vibrancy. A stunning wine that spectacularly fulfills the promise of the West Sonoma Coast. Score: 98

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