Okay, I admit it: I’m a Williams Selyem fan.
I first heard of them from a dear friend, Kathleen. She’s a real estate agent to the stars, collects tons of fabulous local art and best of all, buys entire wine cellars off Craig’s List for fun. We love her! I’ll never forget that stunning champagne party that she threw a few years back. Apparently the seller only had sparklers—hundreds of them. She invited about 50 people to her flat for a champagne only cocktail party. Wow. Until then, I’d never really appreciated the stuff.
I could probably write the same about pinot noir. It’s so easy to get cheap, bad quality pinot, I’d begun to think that that was all there was in the world. But Kathleen opened my eyes one evening. We were attending a private party that she hosted at a local restaurant. She had decorated the place with select pieces of her already mentioned fabo art collection and among other treasures, poured a bottle of Williams Selyem pinot noir.
I can’t remember the year or vineyard—it was a single vineyard pinot, I’m sure of that at least. What I do recall was that the wine was breathtaking! I’d never considered such a thing possible. The tastes swirled in my mouth in a kind of vinous ecstasy. That was the beginning for me. Since, I’ve been writing about Williams Selyem a bit obsessively on our blog. Look here, here, here, here, here, here and here to see what I mean. These folks really are good!
Williams Selyem is one of those lucky few wineries that have a wait list to join. I signed up immediately and waited about 18 months or a bit more before I got on the purchasing member list. But it was worth it. Every spring and fall they offer the latest vintage for sale to members of the list. Then you have a month to frantically buy, before someone else on the list does. I always order the full allotment of reds the first day. VISA be damned!
Then, as part of the fun, you go pick up the wine at their new winery facility in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. And that’s what Hegui and I with a few dear friends, both old and new, did the other week.
The weather was uncooperative—rainy and cold. Too bad, really, as the vineyards were all so beautiful, decked out in autumn yellows. With a clear sky and bright sun, our pictures would have been out-of-this world. Oh well.
Usually on one of these pick-up weekend visits you can try some of the current releases, occasionally a barrel sample from the following year’s vintage and once in a while buy a bit more wine right there on sight, including library wines. That’s especially inviting for guests who may not yet be members. We arrived too late for all the magnums, which I found tremendously disappointing. I’d love to have one or two of those in my cellar. You Williams Selyem guys should offer large formats more regularly to your faithful customers (like me!)
Anyway we were thrilled to taste some of the new wines and excited to introduce our friends to that Williams Selyem magic.
2009 Drake Estate Vineyard Chardonnay: A pale greenish yellow with a pleasantly grassy and vanilla nose, led to tart apple and green grapes with a somewhat creamy texture and long oaky finish.
2009 Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir: This was poured by John Bucher himself, which I thought really cool. To me, it was showing best of all the 2009 pinots that day. A raspberry red color with a jammy aroma of strawberries, loam, mulch and musk; led to cranberry, sour cherry, an ashy mineral quality with medium body and a lingering finish.
2009 Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir: A purple red color with a nose of dark currant, paraffin and barnyard, this was bolder and smoother, with caramel, red fruits, and a fuller minerally body.
2009 Eastside Road Neighbors: This is a blended pinot made from grapes from several vineyards along Eastside Road. Purple red with a nose of Morello cherry, cherry jam and molasses, this was more full bodied yet, with rich fruit, mineral, bitter chocolate and hickory notes with a long finish.
2009 Papera Vineyard Zinfandel: A dark purple with ultra ripe plum, cracked pepper, and chicken feathers leading the way to olallieberry pie, with really rich bright fruit and mineral notes. This was full bodied, jammy and excellent now.
2007 Sonoma County Pinot Noir: A pale transparent red with a nose of horseshit, gum Arabic, straw with medium body, pleasant red fruit and mineral notes leading to a peppery finish. We all enjoyed this and I bought a couple bottles right there.
2007 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir: A pale transparent red with an earthy, even leathery nose, this was much fuller than the Sonoma County, with a smoother texture, raspberry fruit, mineral and medium to full body with good heft. I got a couple of these for good measure too.
So that’s it for now. Look for the spring 2012 update sometime soon!