Wayfarer The Traveler Pinot Noir 2014
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Medium to deep ruby-purple colored, the 2014 Pinot Noir The Traveler (made from the “suitcase clone”) opens with mulberries, red currants and cracked pepper on the nose with hints of garrigue, damp soil, truffles and rhubarb. The medium to full-bodied palate is very finely constructed, with pixelated tannins and great freshness supporting the delicate red fruit and earthy flavors, finishing with great persistence and elegance.
In tandem with his daughter Cleo and renowned winemaker Bibiana Gonzales Rave, Pahlmeyer drives to make intricate wines of transcendence, answering to powerful, ever-unpredictable climate that rewards only the most observant and meticulous. It is an endeavor of true passion, an experiment that pushes the exactitude of winegrowing and winemaking to the farthest limits.
On the far western edge of the larger Sonoma Coast appellation, the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA hugs right up against the Pacific coast. Vineyards, planted at rugged elevations between 920 to 1,800 feet, occupy only two percent of the total land in the AVA. Fort Ross-Seaview growers believe that the region boasts an ideal mix of sunshine, cool air and beneficial stress for producing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot noir.
One of the most finicky yet rewarding grapes to grow, Pinot Noir is a labor of love for many. However, the greatest red wines of Burgundy prove that it is unquestionably worth the effort. In fact, it is the only red variety permitted in Burgundy. Highly reflective of its terroir, Pinot Noir prefers calcareous soils and a cool climate, requires low yields to achieve high quality and demands a lot of attention in the vineyard and winery. It retains even more glory as an important component of Champagne as well as on its own in France’s Loire Valley and Alsace regions. This sensational grape enjoys immense international success, most notably growing in Oregon, California and New Zealand with smaller amounts in Chile, Germany (as Spätburgunder) and Italy (as Pinot Nero).
In the Glass
Pinot Noir is all about red fruit—strawberry, raspberry and cherry with some heftier styles delving into the red or purple plum and in the other direction, red or orange citrus. It is relatively pale in color with soft tannins and a lively acidity. With age (of which the best examples can handle an astounding amount) it can develop hauntingly alluring characteristics of fresh earth, savory spice, dried fruit and truffles.
Pinot’s healthy acidity cuts through the oiliness of pink-fleshed fish like salmon and tuna but its mild mannered tannins give it enough structure to pair with all sorts of poultry: chicken, quail and especially duck. As the namesake wine of Boeuf Bourguignon, Pinot noir has proven it isn’t afraid of beef. California examples work splendidly well with barbecue and Pinot Noir is also vegetarian-friendly—most notably with any dish that features mushrooms.
For administrative purposes, the region of Beaujolais is often included in Burgundy. But it is extremely different in terms of topography, soil and climate, and the important red grape here is ultimately Gamay, not Pinot noir. Truth be told, there is a tiny amount of Gamay sprinkled around the outlying parts of Burgundy (mainly in Maconnais) but it isn’t allowed with any great significance and certainly not in any Village or Cru level wines. So "red Burgundy" still necessarily refers to Pinot noir.