The 2018 Pinot Noir Mother Rock is dense, heady and explosive, with tremendous concentration, unctuous sweetness and exceptional balance. Ripe red/purplish berry fruit, lavender, cloves and leather infuse the 2018 with tremendous character. In this range, the Mother Rock stands out for its bright red berry fruit and chalky, white pepper overtones that confer freshness. This is such a gorgeous, arrestingly beautiful wine. I loved it.
These are two fabulous vintages from Wayfarer that show just how special the property is. In 2018, the harvest took place between September 23 and October 14, which is three weeks later than 2018. Winemaker Todd Kohn opted for a bit of whole cluster inclusion, whereas the 2017s were made with mostly destemmed fruit.
In 2017, the estate dealt with heat spikes, as did everyone else, and sustained temperatures throughout the year. In tasting, though, what comes through is a deep expression of place in both years. It will be interesting to see where the property goes now that the Pahlmeyers have sold their Napa Valley winery. These wines point to a brilliant future.
Drink 2023 - 2033
Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com (January 2020)
A co-fermentation of Mount Eden and Dijon clones. Hand-picked clusters were delivered to the winery before sunrise. Fruit hand-sorted and destemmed before transfer to tank where five to seven days of cold maceration preceded more than two weeks of 100% ambient-yeast fermentation. The free-run wine was transferred to French oak (67% new) for 15 months.
Mid crimson. A hint of rather subtle malt on the nose. Wonderfully smooth texture. Again it’s sweet but not overpoweringly so. Fine tannins and some sweetness at the end but a little minerality too.
Drink 2022 - 2028
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (July 2021)
Brought up in 67% new French oak, the 2018 Pinot Noir Mother Rock has more mineral-laced, cassis, black raspberry, toasted spice, graphite, and violet aromas and flavours. Full-bodied and pure, with silky tannins and a magical texture, it shows incredible purity of fruit as well as flawless balance. This is one of the finest Pinot Noir I was able to taste for this report, and it's going to evolve beautifully for a solid 8-10 years.
Drink 2020 - 2030
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2020)
About this WINE
Owned by Jayson Pahlmeyer, who is also the founder of Pahlmeyer Winery, Wayfarer Vineyard is located in the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA in Sonoma County, California. The vineyard was established in 1989 and is known for its cool climate, which is influenced by the nearby ocean, and is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes.
The vineyard is managed with a focus on sustainability and environmental stewardship. The vines are planted on steep slopes, which allows for excellent drainage and optimal sun exposure. The vineyard is also certified sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
North Coast's Sonoma County is California's largest AVA with 19,800 ha (2005) of vines. It has forever been the home of the meek and mild small grower as compared to the grandeur and might of neighbour Napa; more picturesque too, as much of the sandy, gravely loam land belonged to true orchards and fruit farms until the 1970s.
Sonoma Valley covers a small part of Sonoma County but its wines often outshine its illustrious neighbours in Napa County. Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon are cultivated here with much success. Sonoma Valley has long enjoyed a special place in the history of California wine. The first vineyards in the valley were planted by Franciscan monks in 1823. In 1857 Agoston Haraszthy, one of the founding fathers of California's commercial winemaking, opened here the highly successful Buena Vista Winery.
Closer to the coast are the region's top producing AVAs for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay: Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Green Valley, while the slightly warmer Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys have earned a reputation as a hotspot for Cabernet, and increasingly, Zinfandel and Merlot.
Pinot Noir is probably the most frustrating, and at times infuriating, wine grape in the world. However when it is successful, it can produce some of the most sublime wines known to man. This thin-skinned grape which grows in small, tight bunches performs well on well-drained, deepish limestone based subsoils as are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or.
Pinot Noir is more susceptible than other varieties to over cropping - concentration and varietal character disappear rapidly if yields are excessive and yields as little as 25hl/ha are the norm for some climats of the Côte d`Or.
Because of the thinness of the skins, Pinot Noir wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However the best wines have grip, complexity and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, redolent with freshly crushed raspberries, cherries and redcurrants. When mature, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouth feel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey "sous-bois" nuances emerging.
The best examples are still found in Burgundy, although Pinot Noir`s key role in Champagne should not be forgotten. It is grown throughout the world with notable success in the Carneros and Russian River Valley districts of California, and the Martinborough and Central Otago regions of New Zealand.