2015 Winery of the Year

dougwilder1

Wayfarer Vineyards Cleo Pahlmeyer and Bibiana Gonzalez Rave

Proprietor Cleo Pahlmeyer and Winemaker Bibiana González Rave


Winery Of The Year | 2015

Every year, there is a story, brand, wine or winemaker that makes an indelible impression on me. Sometimes all of those factors converge at

the high end of the scale reaching the pinnacle worthy of reflection and sharing. That happened last year when Tom Garrett showed me

the first trio of releases of Detert Cabernet Franc East Block from Oakville, California. Those wines tasted in early December were

outstanding and represented some of the most fabled vines in Napa Valley planted in the 1970s. The patience and dedication required to

arrive at that point reflected three generations working toward a goal that was not achievable after a mere 10, 20, or even 30 years. It was

clearly the most significant launch of the year and well deserving of being named my Winery Of The Year 2014.

2015 | Setting the Stage | Wayfarer Vineyard Tasting with Bibiana González Rave

In late February of this year, I was putting the finishing touches on the North Coast issue of pdwr and had pretty much shut down tasting so

that I could begin the task of compiling and writing. It was about that time I received an email inviting me to taste the unreleased 2013

vintage of Cleo Pahlmeyer’s Wayfarer Vineyard from the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA, with the winemaker, Bibiana González Rave. The

caveat about the invitation was along the lines “Bibiana and her husband are expecting a baby so the timing is critical.” I had developed an

appreciation for her earlier work at Lynmar, and tasted the premiere release of Wayfarer last year at a trade event without reviewing and

filed it away in my head to investigate in the future. It was one of those judgment calls that I easily talked myself in to. I cleared a spot on

my calendar and made it happen. What ensued was the most memorable tastings of the year; culminating with the 2013 Wayfarer wines.

Bibiana was gracious with her time; ebulliently passionate about the wines she produces and possessed the boundless energy of a coiled

spring, even more impressive when I learned her due date was in the middle of the following week.

Historical Perspective

When I entered the wine business in 1990, one of the first bottles I recall was Pahlmeyer Red Wine. Founder, Jayson Pahlmeyer took an

uncompromising approach to developing the identity of his brand, smuggling in bud wood from France and getting Randy Dunn to make

his first wine in exchange for selling him fruit. The latter was considered one of the major accomplishments of its time, as Dunn made only

his own wine. If you were a serious collector, or aspiring to be one, this red label Bordeaux Blend was on your dance card. It was an outlier

in a burgeoning world of varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, and along with Dominus, Opus One and Phelps Insignia, they served to illustrate

the virtues of building wines on the model of the First Growth Bordeaux blending up to five varieties. Other wines followed – the dark blue

labeled Merlot was the first wine I ever signed up to acquire by mailing list, so I guess I have been an admirer of what they were doing for a

long time.

Why Wayfarer matters – The list you want to be on

The late nineties saw increased interest in the new frontier of the true Sonoma Coast, closer to the Pacific Ocean than anyone had ever

considered until the early adopters begin showing results. Jayson Pahlmeyer was introduced to the unplanted property now Wayfarer, in

1998 by Helen Turley, his former winemaker who has her own property, Marcassin, not far away, and bought it on her recommendation.

A decade after a 2002 planting, Pahlmeyer made two important decisions: He deemed the vineyard was established enough to let it stand as

its own brand and gave up the reins to develop and run the project to his daughter, Cleo. The David Abreu-planted site is comprised of

thirty 1-acre blocks of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Bibiana is Consulting Winemaker and also Vineyard Manager for Wayfarer. A native

of Colombia, she earned her degree in Enology at University of Bordeaux and worked harvests in Bordeaux, at Ch. Haut-Brion, and

Burgundy where she realized to be truly successful as a winemaker, one needed to also have intimate understanding of the day-to-day

management in the vineyard. As vigneronne, complete control in the vineyard and winery allows her to fine tune every aspect towards the

ultimate goal. The mere fact that she is reaching this level of quality in only the second vintage shows that Pahlmeyer is looking toward the

future and making a bold statement with benchmark wines.

About the Images

From the beginning of the magazine four years ago, I was responsible for every image appearing within the covers as I wanted the ultimate

control over all art and editorial. I receive a lot of compliments on the images, but it is always hard for me to accept they are as good as they

could be. Several years ago, I sought out a former Vinfolio colleague, Michael Housewright who was developing creative skills with iPhone

photography. Spending a day together in a one-on-one shooting session with him has made me a better photographer with the iPhone but

his work is clearly in another realm and brings life and vitality to the subject that must be seen to fully appreciate. When I asked Michael in

October to shoot the Wayfarer WOTY project for me, I allowed him free rein to capture what moved him to lift his camera. I knew he

would draw on his 20 years of wine experience to get the shots that mattered. I’m thrilled to share his work with you. The images here

represent only a small portion of his day at Wayfarer, shooting with Bibiana and Fermin Manzo, Vineyard Supervisor, and later with Cleo

and Bibiana. Look for more of his work here on a continuing basis.

Wishing you all the best of the holiday season.

doug wilder | founder and publisher | purely domestic wine report

Michael’s images are featured in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, purely domestic wine report, and he is now represented in Alamy Stock

photography http://www.alamy.com/category/michael-housewright.html Immediately after completing the images for this project, he left for Armagnac to

begin a new project about the people and villages that produce the world’s greatest beverages. The show will launch in 2016 and is titled “Drinking on the

Job” He continues to work with outstanding producers in California wine country to upgrade their images, create cinema quality video, and exceptional

storytelling on their websites. All images are © Michael Housewright. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


2013 CHARDONNAY, WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.5% 820 cs $85 98

2013 PINOT NOIR GOLDEN MEAN FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.5% 550 cs $115 94

2013 PINOT NOIR MOTHER ROCK FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.3% 340 cs $115 95

2013 PINOT NOIR PAIGE’S RIDGE FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.6% 110 cs $115 95

2013 PINOT NOIR THE TRAVELER FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.3% 130 cs $150 96

2013 PINOT NOIR, WAYFARER VINEYARD FORT ROSS-SEAVIEW 14.5% 1300 cs $90 92

Proprietor, Jayson Pahlmeyer had David Abreu plant his Wayfarer Estate Vineyard to thirty 1-acre blocks in 2002 after

purchasing the property on the recommendation of Helen Turley, and began blending the fruit into his Pahlmeyer Sonoma

Coast bottling in 2005. Not until 2012 did he deem it was ready to stand on its own as Wayfarer. From the superbly talented

winemaker Bibiana González Rave the current vintage is full of excellent to extraordinary wines. 2013 CHARDONNAY is a

selection of Old Wente clone seeing only 60% new French oak, The nose is a gauze of citrus, pulverized granite, conifer,

pineapple, honey, salt, lush buttercream and piecrust. The palate shows incredible structure and focus to the feather-light

vibrant peach, pear. A masterpiece. Drink 2015 – 2023. 2013 PINOT NOIR GOLDEN MEAN is 35% whole cluster and

comprised of 75% Pommard, and 25% Swan clone. The nose is mint, ripe cherry, plum, chocolate powder, graphite and golden

stone fruit skin. The palate is firm and lively on entry with a core of beautifully delineated structure of cherry, raspberry and

acidity. The finish lasts a full two minutes. Drink 2015 – 2023. 2013 PINOT NOIR MOTHER ROCK is most helped by

decanting at this stage. The nose is initially closed, later showing firm cherry, raspberry and rhubarb. The palate is vibrant black

raspberry with notes of petrichor and supple velvet-like tannins, finishing with violet and cherry. Drink 2015 – 2023. 2013

PINOT NOIR PAIGE’S RIDGE The nose is gorgeously deep and complex showing licorice, blackberry, cherry, mint, red

apple and rhubarb. The palate entry shows polished flavors of apple, cherry and spice with plenty of vitality and structure. Fall

2015 release. Drink 2017 – 2024. 2013 PINOT NOIR THE TRAVELER is a suitcase clone from Burgundy and has a nose of

dusty violet sachet, loam, cherry, graphite, and notes of sweet white peach. The palate is firm and fresh with beautiful texture

and lightness with outstanding layering and balance. One more thing: This bottle sat uncorked in my office for two weeks after tasting

with Bibiana waiting recycling. I put my nose over the neck and was surprised how fresh it was. Pouring it into a glass and drinking it was

indistinguishable from Day 1. 2013 PINOT NOIR is lushly put together with aromas of cocoa, cherry, graphite with whiffs of

orange peel, spice, cola and hints of rum. The palate is a supple, berry-focused assemblage of each clone in the estate,

harmoniously focused through its silky finish. Drink 2016 – 2023. Tasted March 14, 2015 Santa Rosa, CA

Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


Previous Page T: Bibiana González Rave and Cleo Pahlmeyer | Santa Rosa, CA | B: Bibiana González Rave and Fermin Manzo | Wayfarer Vineyard

This Page T: Bibiana Gonzáez Rave | Wayfarer Vineyard, Sunrise | B: Fermin Manzo | Wayfarer Vineyard

Back Cover: Bibiana González Rave | Wayfarer Vineyard | All images © Michael Housewright |All other content and reviews © pdwr.co |2015

Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


About Doug Wilder and purely domestic wine report

It is a short story that began a long time ago. – I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay region during the 1960’s, and

as a kid, spent time during the summers in the cool, dark cellars of Napa and Sonoma wineries while on family picnic days

and later learned my way around a wine list while engineering consulting in the 80s.

During those day trips to the valley, my dad would fill his gallon jug right from the cask while my brother and I would play

games around huge head-pruned vines and munched the grapes, probably Zinfandel. Then years later after a day of crawling

around nuclear power plants there was always something on the wine list for the expense account to absorb during my

consulting career, but I always looked for the likes of Calera, Chalone, Heitz, Mondavi Reserve and Ridge primarily because

of the importance they put on place. These experiences made an impression on me that would shape my future pursuits.

In 1990, I decided that the first-class flights and other trappings of consulting didn’t make me happy anymore. I spent the

next 20 years nurturing a respected reputation in sales and purchasing at a succession of arguably some of the most

influential wine companies of their era. During this part of my wine career I developed a keen sense of what mattered and

routinely tasted, acquired and recommended wines to my clients’ months before they showed up elsewhere. Trusting my

palate and writing about these wines was a growing, significant part of that.

After I left the retail environment, I continued writing independently but had not decided where I wanted to devote my

energies. In early 2011, I decided to start looking more objectively at what existed in the world of wine review, fashioned

on a grid representing coverage. What I found surprised me – Even though I knew the major magazines covered the globe, I

was reminded of how much they actually missed while on their annual trips mostly visiting the same places and ignoring the

emerging talent. And at the other end, recently launched independent newsletters tended to concentrate on one variety,

Pinot Noir. Nobody was looking at the entirety of the western coast of the United States with any dedication. I decided the

time was right to create something new and different that would stand apart from the status quo, and purely domestic wine

report was born, with a focus to review wines from California, Oregon and Washington all tasted and written about by the

same critic in a magazine without advertising.

Purely domestic wine report just completed its fourth year recognizing Wayfarer Vineyard as its Winery Of The Year. For

examples of some of the other wines reviewed in this issue I have included a page from volume 4.3 to the right.

I do hope you enjoy it. Thank you.

Doug Wilder | publisher | purely domestic wine report

Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


89 2012 Mathew Bruno Cabernet Sauvignon

Napa Valley, 14.4%, 744 cs., $100

The nose is black currant, camphor, jasmine and blue fruit

with notes of sandalwood. The palate is bright red cherry

on entry, textured with elevated acidity accented by golden

stone fruit. Very youthful wine. Drink 2016 – 2024.

93 2012 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet

Sauvignon Perseid

Coombsville, Estate, 14.6%, $125

Dense aromatics of chocolate, spice, clove, coffee bean and

firm red fruits. The palate is coated with a lushly textured

blackberry and spice box. The core is solid and well

formed, nothing out of balance. The finish is a warm

polished black fruit accompanied by velvet-like acidity.

Drink 2015 – 2030.

94+ 2012 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet

Sauvignon Special Family Reserve

Coombsville, Estate, 14.6%, $275

The nose is profoundly unique with exotic floral and spice.

Bittersweet chocolate, menthol and currant. The palate is

classic and centered, gorgeously poised with copious fresh

vitality. Fruit, spice, and tannins are in proportion, nice

length imbued with chocolate and blackberry. Drink 2017 –

2030.

95 2013 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet

Sauvignon Perseid [Summer 2016]

Coombsville, Estate, 14.4%, $125

The nose is fresh lilac blossom, sea salt, and blueberry,

plum and bright cranberry. The palate is a beautiful

impression of poise and precise balance of tannins and fruit.

It is hard to want any more out of a wine not on the

market for 8 months, structure, vitality and depth. Drink

2017 – 2035.

96+ 2013 Meteor Vineyard Cabernet

Sauvignon Special Family Reserve [Spring 2017]

Coombsville, Estate, 14.4%, $275

The nose is very dense plum, aromatic blossoms, brown

spice and menthol. The palate is gorgeous in its polished

entry. Cherry, currant, camphor and nicely balanced oak in

the core. I am very impressed with this offering a full 18

months ahead of release. Don’t miss it. Drink 2018 – 2030.

95 2012 Morlet Cabernet Sauvignon

St. Helena, Estate, 15%, 275 cs., $275

A beautiful nose with essences of olive, meat, purple herbs

with a buttery core along with black tea and boysenberry

firmness. The palate is powerful and precise on entry with a

core of densely layered black fruit, tar, licorice and plum

with beautifully integrated tannins. Drink 2016 – 2035.

95 2013 Morlet Cabernet Sauvignon

Passionnément

Oakville, 15%, 300 cs., $250

The nose has a lush edge of ripe black cherry, graphite,

Asian spice, plum and black raspberry. The palate entry

shows the firm/supple dynamic of this producer. Dense

velvet like chocolate, violet and camphor. Very impressive

at this point. Drink 2017 – 2035.

94 2013 Morlet Red Wine Coeur de Vallee

Oakville, 15%, 350 cs., 75CS|25CF, $175

A nose of cocoa powder, raspberry, licorice and cassis with

a briary undercurrent. The palate shows a broad entry with

subtle powdery blue fruit vitality, mint, with traces of

currant and sweet, sticky plum.

97 2013 Morlet Red Wine Mon Chevalier

Knights Valley, 15% 850 cs., 86CS|8CF|2MR|2MB|2PV,

$175

The nose is beautifully poised licorice, olive tapenade,

carbonized meat, violet, cinnamon, toffee and cocoa. The

palate is exceptionally engaging, precisely formed and

layered with finesse. Shows excellent structure with violet

and licorice, saturated black fruits. Stunning stuff. Drink

2016 – 2035.

94 2013 Morlet Cabernet Franc Force de la

Nature

Oakville, 15.5%, 175 cs., $250

The nose is perfumed with a sweet musk of spice box,

clove, orange zest, blueberry, linseed, blackberry and

chocolate. The palate is dense and focused with chocolate,

clove, licorice and bright essences of florals. Drink 2017 -

2030.

Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co


Winery Of The Year 2015 | Wayfarer Vineyard | www.pdwr.co

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