This is the last one of these. It's been 4 years since opening the last one as I thought this could use some time. Man, the time has really done this one well. I am actually a fan of this producer with regard to their budget pinot. 20 bucks and you get a good crowd-pleaser. Although I don't know if I would buy this since my palate has changed since purchasing these, I have to respect this for being a great higher end pinot that does showcase Carneros pinot very well. Still has a lot of robust, sweet raspberry fruit almost like a raspberry tea Graham cracker. A very rounded front. Just about as full-bodied as traditional Pinot gets. A little bit of mint, herbs. Finishes with very good acidity but the acidic nature is starting to fade. This was consumed all by itself, so it actually was a very nice characteristic as it allowed the raspberry to fade out a bit and not end so abruptly. I wouldn't trust this one to really drink so well three or four years from now. But it is really good now! — 2 months ago
Opened this wine two nights ago and really enjoyed. Had a little leftover and it’s not as good tonight. Arrived in New Zealand today on Crystal Symphony after four days at sea. — 2 years ago
Grenache Gris 2017. Tropical fruit with four groups acidity for days. Awesome wine! — 2 years ago
First winery on day two in Sonoma was Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa with Meredith. First red up was the Two Brothers Pinot Noir which comes from four separate vineyards in Sonoma County; 41% from Steiner Ranch, 26% from Walker Vine Hill, 21% from Devoto and 12% from Perli. Namesake is for the two sons, Tripp and Cushing. Aged for 18 months in 17% new French oak. 1,630 cases produced.
Medium garnet red with some ruby in the core. A touch of greenery on the nose with some twigs and strawberries. A touch of tobacco and cedar too. Medium acidity (6.5/10) with a light plus to medium body. Layered palate with notes of cinnamon, violet, white pepper, plums and a touch of mushrooms. Medium plus finish with a little bit of iron coming through. Drink till 2021.
$$ - Tasted at the winery. Retail price is $55.00. — 2 years ago
Devil’s Thumb Ranch - first trip as a family of four. And Billie came too! — 4 months ago
I would be remiss as a Sommelier if I didn’t pay homage to a Winery co-founder, Sonoma pioneer & legend, Burt Williams, who passed away this week at 79 due to complications of Parkinson’s.
For those of you that see my posts, soon after I fell In love with wine, I/we started traveling to as many world wine regions as we could. It was at that point, I fell in love with producers. For many, they just sip wine and like or love it. If my posts reflect anything, they hopefully convey a love and homage for producers.
It is a daunting challenge financially & a labor intensive investment to start a winery. Producers that do it well, do it out of love & passion. Somewhere around 50% is completely out of their control...weather. It is a tremendous undertaking, hard work and why I have ultimate respect for producers and Burt is the rule, not the exception.
Williams Selyem has been a favorite Pinot of ours for sometime. We really enjoy them at 10 years plus in bottle. At that age, they take on a preferred Burgundian style. They long age effortlessly, beautifully and show so much more with that kind of time in bottle.
The nose reveals; ruby, dark cassis, blackberries, black raspberries, raspberries, both black plum & plum, boysenberries, blue fruits, pomegranate, Provence herbs, tree sap, charcoal notes, soft, savory meats, mint/eucalyptus, limestone, volcanic minerals, dry, powdery rocks, Lipton tea, mixed dark berry cola, dark, red, blue, purple flowers laid on top of distinctive Williams Selyem violets.
The body, this young is full & feels well extracted. The structure, tension are still big and need to round out. The length & balance are headed to the right place. Ruby, dark cassis, blackberries, black raspberries, raspberries, both black plum & plum, boysenberries, blue fruits, pomegranate, cherries, strawberries, Provence herbs, tree sap, pronounced dark spices with plate heat, chocolate cake w/ light frosting, clove, nutmeg,, cinnamon stick, some vanillin, charcoal notes, soft, savory meats, mint/eucalyptus, underbrush, limestone, volcanic minerals, dry, powdery rocks, Lipton tea, mixed dark berry cola, dark, red, blue, purple flowers laid on top of distinctive Williams Selyem violets. The acidy is near perfect. The long finish needs time but is; delicious, well balanced, elegant, falling into dark spice as it sets.
This will continue to improve over the next 15 years plus.
I didn’t know Burt personally but, I have enjoyed his craft & legacy over the years. I will leave this post with what the winery sent out this week in tribute. They’ve done it far better than I could.
We are deeply saddened to announce that Burt Williams, founder of Williams Selyem, passed away yesterday due to complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Burt, along with co-founder Ed Selyem, started out with a few tons of free grapes in the 1970s. The two friends didn’t set out to produce wines for anyone but themselves, and they surely never imagined that their humble experiment in home winemaking would spawn a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Together, they set a new standard for American-made Pinot Noir, and elevated Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley to among the best wine growing regions in the world.
Born in San Francisco in 1940, Burt and his family moved north to Sonoma County after his dad passed. Upon graduating from Sebastopol High School, he went to work as a printer for the San Francisco Chronicle.
A self-taught winemaker, Burt found his way with the aid of many winemaking books and study of old-world winemaking techniques. In the early days, the winery had little money to spend so they improvised and used old stainless-steel dairy tanks for fermentors—a tradition we still carry on today. He was always fascinated by the terroir of the Russian River Valley and believed that the grapes grown here could make wines to rival the best in the world.
In 1992, Burt quit his day job to focus solely on the winery. After much success, he passed on selling to a few suitors, then made the decision to sell the winery to our current owner, John Dyson. Burt set a particular standard for whom they were willing to sell the winery to. The first condition was that the buyer must already be on the mailing list. The second condition was that the buyer must already be in the wine industry. “Kathe and I were really very lucky to be chosen by Burt and Ed. Kathe had joined the mailing list in the early 1990s and I already owned a winery in New York and a vineyard in California. We saw that as a true sign of Burt’s dedication to maintaining the quality of the wine and the business,” said John Dyson.
After the sale, Burt stayed in the wine industry and purchased a vineyard in the Anderson Valley, where he grew Pinot Noir. We made a vineyard designate from his grapes, called Burt Williams’ Morning Dew Ranch, until he sold the vineyard in 2015. Burt Williams was a pioneer of the industry and stayed a true friend of the winery. He visited the winery many times a year and was always interested in current goings-on. He would often come to events and pour wine and even sign bottles for customers. John Dyson said Burt once told him, “I have to say, John, I’m so delighted we sold to you. We could never have done anything like this ourselves and you really helped make what we started live on.”
Burt’s influence on the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, and Pinot Noir winemaking in general cannot be overstated. He was considered a trailblazer in the industry and is credited with helping put Sonoma County Pinot Noir on the map. He was also an influence on, and a mentor to, an entire generation of winemakers. VP of Winemaking Jeff Mangahas said, “Burt had a profound impact on my way of thinking of winemaking and it was some of his early wines that fueled my interest in the Russian River Valley. It is truly an honor to be the steward for Williams Selyem wines today and continue to make wines in the spirit of Burt.”
We will all miss Burt greatly.
Burt is survived by his wife Rebecca, two daughters, four grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Photos of; Williams Selyem, two photos of Burt & the “Morning Dew Vineyard” that I hope he is walking and producing heavenly vintage from in his hereafter. — 10 months ago
Let me start with a disclaimer: I’m a massive fan of Chateau Musar and a big fan of Tegan’s work with his Sandlands wines. I’m a buyer for both each and every year. So when I learned that he had modeled the 2018 “Red Table Wine” after the wines from Musar, I was like, “Abso-effing-lutely”!! A few nights ago, I couldn’t resist pulling the cork on one to give it the old college try (it is so young after all). I’m happy to report that the wine is tasty and does remind me a bit of Musar, even though the blend uses Zinfandel instead of Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s quite reticent at this stage and it evolved at a glacial pace over four days. A mix of dark and red fruits with exotic spices, red rope licorice and coffee. As typical of Sandlands wines, this gained weight with air and the higher acid gives it a lot of energy. Today, I think these drink best with a meal. I intend to hold my remaining bottle for at least a few years. Equal parts Cinsault (Bechthold Vineyard 1886), Carignane (Spenker Ranch 1900) and Zinfandel (Kirschenmann Vineyard 1915). — 6 months ago
Great rich texture for mtn fruit. — 2 years ago
Great jam, big, that blueberry sugar taste but grape, rich purple color, loads of velvety jam, solid acid and some tannin, juicy, silty rich purple with slight rust — 2 years ago
First winery on day two in Sonoma was Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa with Meredith. The next Rhone varietal red was the Cuvée Keltie Syrah. Made up of 100% Syrah from four vineyards in Sonoma County; Kobler Family, Steiner Ranch, Obsidian and Richard Family vineyards. This bottling is 100% whole cluster fermented in small batches then aged for 21 months in neutral French oak. Only 301 cases produced.
Dark ruby red with some violet hues. Complex and layered nose with leather, twigs, sweet spices, touch floral and dark red berries. Medium plus tannins (7.5/10) and full bodied. Rich palate with vanilla, cinnamon, smokiness, baking spices, dark cocoa, dark berries and a touch of light petrol. Long finish. Drink till 2030.
$$$ - Tasted at the winery. Retail price is $90.00. — 2 years ago