Goldeneye Winery dates to 1996 when Duckhorn Wine Company owners Dan and Margaret Duckhorn bought
the former Obester Winery in the hamlet of Philo along Highway 128 in the Anderson Valley, and the following
year planted the 57-acre Confluence Vineyard to Pinot Noir. With the subsequent acquisition of additional
Anderson Valley vineyard properties, Goldeneye now farms four estate vineyards encompassing over 200
acres, second in Anderson Valley acreage only to the vast vineyard holdings of Roederer Estate.
Dan and Margaret Duckhorn had established a reputation for outstanding Bordeaux-varietal wines (particularly
Merlot) from Napa Valley, but through the years developed a passion for Pinot Noir. They envisioned a winery
devoted to Pinot Noir and found a suitable location in the Anderson Valley. The vineyards were to become
among the first in California to receive sustainable certification and a Pinot-focused winery that was built
became one of only three wineries in California to earn the LEED Gold environmental certification.
The name, Goldeneye, derives from a yellow-eyed waterfowl that occasionally calls Anderson Valley home
since it lies on the bird’s migratory route.
The initial winemaker, Zach Rasmuson, established the winery’s reputation. Michael Fay took over the helm in
2012 and further refined the bold Goldeneye style by adding some native ferments, employing less saignée to
accentuate the mouthfeel of the wines, and dialing back the percentage of new oak slightly. Michael left
Goldeneye in 2016 for a winemaking post in the Central Coast, and was replaced by Michael Accurso who had
worked alongside Michael as assistant winemaker since 2014. Accurso has continued to fine tune the winery’s
style, tending to pick at lower Brix and further dialing back the amount of new French oak used during aging.
Winemaking at Goldeneye requires an astute organizational focus since nearly 250 individual lots of Pinot Noir
are fermented each vintage. The Estate program consists of more than 24 clones of Pinot Noir planted to more
than 96 individual vineyard blocks with 49 unique combinations of clones and rootstock material.
Here is a map and summary of the four estate vineyards:
The Narrows Vineyard (formerly Floodgate Vineyard and renamed after acquired by Goldeneye) This historic
mountain vineyard is situated on a narrow ridge top at the northernmost end (“Deep End”) of the Anderson
Valley. It is 10 miles inland from the Mendocino Coast and therefore is exposed to a strong marine influence
producing summer fog and cool daytime temperatures. A challenging site to farm, due to its coolness and threat
of frost. Yields are low
Split Rail Vineyard This vineyard is located on the bank of the Navarro River between Gowan Creek and The
Narrows vineyards and possesses considerable diversity.
Gowan Creek Vineyard This vineyard is two miles north of Confluence Vineyard and is also the site of the
Goldeneye winery. This site combines elements of the valley’s warmer regions and its cooler, northern climate.
Planted to eight different clones of Pinot Noir tailored to a specific site and soil type.
Confluence Vineyard Established in 1996, this vineyard is located in the heart of the Anderson Valley
adjacent the headwaters of the Navarro River. There are a range of soils and exposures.
The Goldeneye Pinot Noirs remain rich, lush, often savory and unique among the cadre of other Anderson
Valley producers, attracting the respect of pinotphiles and collectors and bringing the Anderson Valley
considerable recognition. The wines are relatively low in acidity that makes for a lush palate. The 2014
Goldeneye releases reviewed here were vinified by both Michaels working in tandem. All the wines were
vinified with 100% estate fruit. I found the wines impressive for their rich fruit flavors and harmony. Expensive,
yes, but well worth every penny. Great Pinot Noir never comes cheap.
2014 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.89, TA 0.51, 15,850 cases, $56. Harvest Brix
24.5º. 45% of blend from Gowan Creek Vineyard. Amazing quality considering the large production.
garnet color in the glass. Nicely appointed aromas of black cherry, spice, and toasty oak. Black cherry and
black raspberry flavors arrive in force with accents of anise and black tea. Forward drinking, with a healthy
tannic backbone, a polished mouthfeel and some finishing generosity. A little more oak on hand than was
evident with the single vineyard bottlings, but thoroughly enjoyable.
2014 Goldeneye The Narrows Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.91, TA 0.49, 390
cases, $84. This wine typically has a wild, rustic character. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16 months in French oak
barrels, 59% new, 41% neutral.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. I was infatuated with the nose that offered
aromas of fresh cherry and cranberry fruit, rose petal, baking spice and vanilla. Generous flavors of cherry and
raspberry arrived on the palate with a rush, expanding in the mouth, and finishing with purpose. This wine
packs a lot of juicy fruit flavor in harmony with structured tannins and courtly oak support.
2014 Goldeneye Split Rail Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.82, TA 0.50, 350 cases,
$84. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new and 40% neutral. Made from clones
“828” and 777. Typically structured and savory.
Moderate garnet color in the glass. Complex nose offering
aromas of dark red berries, mushroom, mocha, and toast. Delicious attack of vivid dark red and black berry
fruits along with hints of black tea, rose and spice. The oak barrel treatment is expressed as toast and bbq, and
the tannins, most prominent among all the single vineyard offerings lead to a modest astringent message on
the finish. When tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the tannins had
softened indicating further time in the cellar will be beneficial. Cellaring will not only ameliorate the tannins but
also further integrate the oak.
2014 Goldeneye Gowan Creek Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.55,
1,130 cases, $84. Harvest Brix 25º. Aged 16 months in French oak barrels, 60% new, 40% neutral.
This vineyard typically provides rich, lush fruit and a velvety texture. 60% clone “828,” provided
voluptuous dark fruit flavors while clone 667 was added to balance the acidity and structure.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. Enticing aromas of black fruits, sweet pipe smoke, oak
spice, nuts and earth. Robust mid weight plus flavors of blackberry and boysenberry are deftly
balanced by firm tannins. Rounded and polished with a luscious palate that is both creamy and replete
with heaps of berry goodness. Impeccably balanced, this wine finishes long and sturdy. Flat-out delicious.
2014 Goldeneye Confluence Vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., pH 3.87, TA 0.49,
540 cases, $84. Grapes picked at a lower Brix and earlier than Gowan Creek, attempting to
accentuate the brightness and red fruit character typical of this vineyard. Harvest Brix 24.5º. Aged 16
months in medium toast French oak barrels, 57% new, 43% neutral.
Moderate garnet color in the
glass. This wine offers a redder fruit profile with scents of cherry and strawberry on the nose. Less
sappy, less tannic and more vibrant than the other 2014 Goldeneye Pinot Noirs, but still blessed with a
succulent mid weight core of red berry and cherry fruits complimented with a riff of sandalwood-linked
oak. Special in every way, with commendable harmony and length of finish. When tasted the following day from
a previously opened and re-corked bottle, I was still seduced, and particularly impressed by the extraordinary
finish that seemed to last indefinitely.
2014 Goldeneye Ten Degrees Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.51, 1,175
cases, $120. This wine is made from the finest barrels of wine, the top 5% of estate Pinot Noir,
blended for both power and elegance. Four estate vineyards. Aged 16 months in 100% new medium
toast French oak barrels.
Moderately dark garnet color in the glass. This wine is quite reserved upon
opening and only brought it when tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked
bottle. Deep fruit aromas of ripe strawberry, blackberry and blueberry-pomegranate fruits paired with a
compliment of toasty brioche. Polished, sophisticated and seductive on the palate with an array of
opulent purple fruits backed by silky tannins. The fruit load is expansive in the mouth, and propels the long,
long, long finish to a glorious climax. I have tasted several vintages of this special wine, and this one falls in
line as far as taste, but it offers a little more vibrancy and juiciness than in the past. Best to cellar this wine for a
couple of years, but if you must open it sooner, by all means decant.