Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Wayfarer Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay with lobster

Wayfarer Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay with whole lobster and fresh corn on the cob

Son Ryan discovered and turned me on to this label. While picking up a Bordeaux futures delivery at Binny's, our Chicagoland Beverage Superstore, I found and picked up the last few remaining bottles in stock. 

Linda prepared whole lobsters on the grill with corn on the cob - a perfect pairing with this ultra-premium label Chardonnay. Corn on the cob is a highlight of summer cuisine in the Midwest, one of the things I missed dearly, along with hearty tomatoes and succulent beef, when we lived in Northern California.

This is from well known Napa Valley producer Jayson Pahlmeyer known for his Pahlmeyer Proprietary Red “California Mouton” Bordeaux varietal wines. Jayson collaborated with the great winemaker Helen Turley and together produced consistently award-winning wines. 

We're huge fans of Pahlmeyer wines of which we hold many labels across several vintages in our cellar, which are featured regularly in these pages.

After nearly 30 years as an acclaimed Napa Valley vintner Jayson Pahlmeyer became increasingly entranced by the wines of Burgundy. “Every oenophile eventually gravitates to the wines of Burgundy,” he says. In the early 1990s, Jayson began seeking out the finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards in the world.

A close friend, legendary French wine importer Martine Saunier, had located two parcels for sale in Burgundy – Clos de la Roche, a Grand Cru Pinot Noir vineyard in Côte de Nuits Grand Cru, and Corton Vergennes, a Grand Cru Chardonnay vineyard in Corton. Pahlmeyer's notable winemaker, Helen Turley, was to make the wine with the hands-on assistance of the renowned Michel Niellon at his Chassagne-Montrachet winery. However, just after the papers were signed, the deal was nullified by an obscure Burgundian real estate clause that permitted last-minute alternative offers.

Helen Turley discovered Wayfarer, an organic farm on remote ridges on the Sonoma Coast, named for the dream of its owners, Dave and Dorothy Davis, to travel the world. Her own vineyard, Marcassin estate and vineyards were just down the road and Helen understood well the extraordinary character of fruit this land could yield. 
When the Davises listed the farm for sale in 1998, Turley brought good friend and fellow vintner Jayson Pahlmeyer to survey the site. Pahlmeyer recognized the proximity to the ocean and cool sea air tempering the brilliant sun, with Goldridge soil with thick forest of redwoods to the east and fog-blanketed bluffs to the west, had the potential to produce world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Helen declared it destined to be “the La Tache of California” and Jayson promptly claimed the land for his own.

Jason selected legendary viti-culturalist and producer David Abreu to plant the Wayfarer vineyard in 2002, and in 2005, Jayson started blending Wayfarer Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with fruit from Russian River vineyards, bottling it under the Pahlmeyer label. By 2012, the vineyard’s exceptional fruit produced wine worthy of its own vineyard designated namesake label. Jayson tapped his daughter, Cleo Pahlmeyer, to oversee Wayfarer.

Wayfarer vineyard's 30 undulating acres lie in the Fort Ross-Seaview 27,500-acre sub-appellation on the far north-western end of the Sonoma Coast AVA. Defined as a distinct appellation in 2011, the extreme landscape is often deemed “the true Sonoma Coast” as it overlooks the Pacific beaches and receives the cool wind and fog from the frigid California Current flowing down the coast. The entire appellation resides above the fog line at an elevation of 800 feet and higher, above the fogline thereby allowing ample sunshine for ripening. Situated on a jagged portion of the San Andreas Fault, most of the acreage is unfarmable due its dramatic terrain.

We visited the area and drove the scenic rugged Sonoma Coast, staying in Bodega Bay, during our Napa/Sonoma County Wine Experience back in 2017

Cleo Pahlmeyer, proprietor/general manager of Wayfarer, was raised in Napa in the wine business and culture. After receiving a BA in Art History from the University of Virginia, she went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Connoisseurship of Fine and Decorative Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.

Returning to the family winery in 2008 after working in the international art world, Cleo worked closely with her father to learn every aspect of the family business. Beginning in sales and progressing to manage direct to consumer sales and marketing, then public relations, she went on to be appointed President in 2017.

Wayfarer is a family affair, with Cleo, a mother of three, mentored by her father, and joined by her husband, Jamie Watson, who pours his own passion for wine into Wayfarer. “I must be my father’s daughter,” Cleo explains, “because like him, I have naturally gravitated to Pinot Noir. Wayfarer is a very special place for me personally. It has a soul that can only be felt by breathing in its air, walking on its soil, feeling its warmth."

Wayfarer's winemaker is Todd Kohn who grew up in Redding, three hours north of Sonoma. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Todd first worked at the California sparkling wine house, Schramsberg, where he worked in the vineyard, lab and cellar, learning all aspects of winegrowing and winemaking. He went to gain further experience at several premiere Napa Valley wine producers including Opus One. He then spent time in Australia working in the Mornington Peninsula region of Australia where he worked growing and crafting world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Todd joined Wayfarer in 2013 as Assistant to the Winemaker, working the next 5 years with the Consulting Winemaker to establish Wayfarer’s vineyard practices and winemaking techniques, before taking the helm as Winemaker in December of 2017.

Wayfarer Wayfarer Vineyard Sonoma County Seaview Ross Chardonnay 2019

This is the ultra-premium flagship label for Wayfarer Chardonnay. While Cleo Pahlmayer, Proprietor, oversees the operations, Founder Jason Pahlmeyer's signature conspicuously adorns the label.

The 2019 vintage began with several months of heavy rainfall. Total rainfall for the year was 78 inches, second only to record-setting rainfall in 2017. Chardonnay shoots emerged a full week later than normal. A warm April advanced shoot growth quickly feeding on the energy in the soil from the heavy rainfall, which hit again in May.

Flowering began in early June, a week later than normal, but progressed under the bountiful sunshine in June. The summer of 2019 was full of sunshine, with moderate to cool temperatures the gave way to average high temperature through July and August, perfect for gradually ripening the Chardonnay.

In 2019 Wayfarer waited until the vines reached their optimal point, then moved in with canopy work to transition the vines from vegetative growth to fruit maturation. By the time veraison began in early August, the vines were tracking only three days later than normal. Picking started in mid-September and concluded harvest in early October.

This is a blend of four different clones planted on the Wayfarer property, Berlenbach Old Wente, Dijon 95, Hyde and Mount Eden.

This release was awarded 97 Points by Jeb Dunnuck, 95 Points by Erin Brooks of Wine Advocate, and 93 points by Antonio Galloni, Vinous and Kim Markus of Wine Spectator.

Producer Tasting Notes - "Aromas of star jasmine, white peach, lemon zest and meringue emerge from the glass, along with roasted almond, coconut and baking spice. Graceful and subtle in its richness, this wine has plenty to offer. The dense palate is beautifully balanced with fresh acidity and salinity. An elegant chalky texture lingers on the finish, indicating great aging potential."

This was light golden colored, medium full bodied, floral aromatics, concentrated but nicely balanced and integrated, rich full flavors of citrus, green apple and hints of peach with notes of almond and flint with a crisp clean long finish. 

RM 93 points. 



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