Fall 2022 Newsletter
A Note from VP, Director of Winemaking Jeff Mangahas
One of the questions we most frequently receive is, ‘How long should I wait to drink my Williams Selyem wine?’ As John says, ‘Following our guidelines, which were first drawn up by Burt Williams, can be a test of your moral fiber!’
From a scientific perspective, the wine undergoes a complex series of chemical reactions in barrel, and in the bottle, where tannins are polymerizing, or linking together, to form larger molecules. The larger molecules give the feeling in your mouth of being more elegant, softer, and less astringent when you taste them. From a chemical perspective, this polymerization process happens with time and is affected by temperature. Consequently, storage temperature is important if you want to age your wine. A cellar temperature of 50-55F allows for a graceful aging process whereas a higher temperature will accelerate the aging process.
Now, here are some general guidelines for both our AVA wines as well as our vineyard designates.
The regional wines, like Sonoma County and Central Coast, tend to be more approachable when young. They are aged with less new oak as part of the barrel program. New oak imparts oak tannins in addition to those found in the grapes. Also, the grape sources consist of younger vines; these wines have elegant tannins and lower acid profiles that allow for earlier enjoyment. Generally, I recommend drinking these wines upon release to 3-4 years from the vintage date.
The AVA wines, like the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast tend to have a higher percentage of new oak in the barrel program and are crafted from older vines. Vine age, coupled with more specific site selection, give these wines more structure and therefore require additional time to come together to reach their full potential. Drinking windows for these wines range from 3-5 years from the vintage date.
Vineyard designates are from unique terroirs and made with a higher percent of new oak. They are from sites which tend to deliver concentration and structure. These wines will age gracefully for many years; a good window to start consuming them starts around 5 years from the vintage date and will deliver well into the 10-year range. Not only do older wines have softer tannin profiles, but the fruit transitions from primary fruit character to more secondary smells. Secondary aromas equate to mushroom and earthy tones, especially in Pinot Noir, and sometimes a lessening of primary fruit aromas.
As I mentioned, these are merely guidelines, and you should use your own personal preference to decide when to drink a wine. The very best advice that I can give is to drink the wines when you want to drink them. Many people prefer fresh fruit qualities for example. If you decide to open a young, more structured wine like 2019 Precious Mountain Pinot Noir, I’d suggest opening it well ahead of time to allow for a little oxygen to start to help soften the tannin profile. You may also consider a heavier dish as a counterpoint to the bigger tannins.
Think of a wine’s evolution as a timeline rather than a perfect time to drink a wine. It is constantly evolving in the bottle, and I believe there is always a lot to enjoy at any particular point on the timeline, whether it is young or old—and you can choose to test your moral fiber, or not!
2020 Vintage Summary
The 2020 growing season started out very dry with 60% of average rainfall. Dry winters usually bring early bud break, but the nights were colder than average and bud break was delayed. Early spring rains recharged the soil profile, but periods of extreme cold caused many frost events throughout the Russian River Valley. In some areas, frost was an issue and had the effect of lowering the crop. Bloom weather was overall very good but was interspersed with a few cool periods with scattered showers which created a “hens and chicks” cluster morphology.
Late spring yielded ample sunshine and moderate temperatures, and the plants responded very well with excellent canopy growth. Slightly looser clusters and excellent viticultural timing set the stage for good exposure of fruit for color and tannin development. The consequent wines for 2020 have deep color and very refined tannin owing to the early season sunshine.
The season ended up approximately 12% warmer than average and did not have any heat spikes until August. Shoots and stems were well lignified, and seeds were brown—these are all indicators of maturity. The warmer parts of the Russian River Valley were near harvest already so the decision to start picking was made. Harvest started in haste on August 12, ahead of an extreme heat wave.
On the night of August 17, the weather changed and there was a rare dry lightning storm that sparked a fire on a hillside in remote west Sonoma County. This fire would later be named the Walbridge Fire. In the Russian River Valley, it took a number of days for smoke to settle along with that were concerns of smoke taint. Based on test results for smoke taint on the grapes, several vineyards were not picked due to the threat of tainted wine. These vineyards were mostly on the Coast. For the vineyards that were picked, either before the fire or before the smoke settled, the result was concentrated wines with a darker, more brooding complexion. The polish of the tannin, coupled with excellent concentration, should allow for a wide window drinking of enjoyment.
– VP, Director of Winemaking Jeff Mangahas
Pinot Noir – Elegant
2020 Calegari Vineyard Pinot Noir $75 13.9% alc Russian River Valley AVA
With a red fruit profile, the 2020 Calegari Vineyard Pinot Noir showcases hints of raspberry, dried cranberry, and Bing cherry. The fruit notes meld into a bouquet of dried citrus peel and dried rose petals and is highlighted by an English breakfast tea aroma. In the mouth, the flavors lead with citrus and cranberry, and finish with a tea-like tannin structure. The red clay soils in this vineyard help contribute to the elegant and refined tannins, with a hint of minerality on the finish.
2020 Foss Vineyard Pinot Noir $75 13.8% alc Russian River Valley AVA
At first nosing, the wine offers up a brooding aroma of berry fruits mixed with wood spice and cedar notes. With aeration, the wine reveals notes of caraway seed and dried tangerine peel. The palate is loamy and rich, with an unctuous and enveloping mouthfeel. The alluring finish delivers just a hint of cocoa dust and chocolate. Because the vineyard is located in a slightly warmer microclimate, the resulting wine has a delicate acidity that adds appeal to the roundness of the 2020 Foss Vineyard Pinot Noir.
Pinot Noir – Medium-Bodied
2020 Vista Verde Vineyard Pinot Noir $70 13.8% alc San Benito County AVA
Layered and complex, the lively aromatics of the 2020 Vista Verde Vineyard Pinot Noir showcase berry fruits, woody spices, and dried rose petals, while a citrus peel note further energizes the nose. Tangy and refreshing on the palate, the wine has berry fruit flavors with a sensation of black tea. Beneath the tea-like tannins, a streak of minerality, which is well-known for these limestone-rich soils, is nicely layered into the mid-palate and extends all the way through the lengthy finish.
2020 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir $75 13.4% alc Yorkville Highlands AVA
Red fruited on the nose, the 2020 Weir Vineyard Pinot Noir is complexed with dried herbs, crushed rocks, and minerals. Typical of this site, the wine showcases the savory side of Pinot Noir; refreshing and bright on the palate, with highlights of crunchy, red fruit flavors and an undertone of Bergamot. The rocky and mineral-laden soils in this vineyard produce a wine with refined tannin and a mineral structure that synergizes to create a palate-coating sensation. Enjoy after midterm cellaring.
2020 Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir $75 13.6% alc Anderson Valley AVA
Black cherry and dark red fruit aromas jump from the glass, while a floral note captivates the senses. The nose is further complexed with wood spices and citrus notes. This vintage of the 2020 Ferrington Vineyard Pinot Noir is layered with red fruits and citrus; the brightness on the palate is a hallmark of the site. Comprised of a blend of six different clones, the complexity is compelling throughout the palate, all the way to the lengthy finish.
2020 Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir $100 13.8% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Cherry and macerated strawberry notes come through on the nose, while fresh herbs, hints of crushed rocks, and cocoa belie the fruit. With some air, a rich Allen perfume emerges with hints of dried rose petals. Refined in the mouth, the essence of minerals and the tea-like tannin structure coalesce with fruit flavors to create a wine with both power and elegance.
2020 Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard Pinot Noir $100 13.5% alc Russian River Valley AVA
On the nose, rich, dark berry notes are immediately apparent, and aromas of underbrush and coffee beans soon follow. The Rochioli Vineyard is perfectly situated along the bank of the Russian River, which has a moderating effect and allows for perfect ripening, creating unsurpassed layers of complexity. Aromas of cedar and wood spices further complex the nose, while in the mouth the texture is compelling, as usual, with concentrated and refined tannins that seem to cover every part of the palate. Berry fruit flavors abound and meld with complementary earth notes to create a striking balance in this wonderful vintage.
2020 Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir $115 13.9% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Perfumed and floral, the 2020 Williams Selyem Estate Pinot Noir is a study in balance. Fruit, floral, and earthy tones are complexed with wood spices and minerality. Similarly on the palate, the wine showcases terrific acidity and is balanced with fruit, earthiness, and refined tannins. A sensation of citrus peel gives way to crushed rocks and minerals, keeping the balance in perfect harmony on the finish.
Pinot Noir – Full-Bodied
2020 Eastside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir $70 13.9% alc Russian River Valley AVA
A knockout nose of berry fruits and sassafras jump from the glass in this terrific offering from the eastern hills above the Russian River. Notes of Asian spices, fennel, and a hint of earthiness are woven together with the fruit elements to create a multifaceted aromatic profile. On the palate, the wine is equally as complex, with berry fruits flavors and the zing of zesty tangerine peel. With robust tannins on the palate, the 2020 Eastside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir is buffered by rich fruit character and an earthy complexion that finishes with a weighty minerality.
2020 Bucher Vineyard Pinot Noir $75 14.1% alc Russian River Valley AVA
In this offering from the Bucher Vineyard, dark red raspberry fruit notes are intertwined with an earthy, loamy character, which is typical of the site. Hints of dried herbs further complex this brooding wine. In the mouth, the wine exhibits big, yet very refined tannin, with dark red fruit flavors and a meaty undertone. Give this wine few years of age and a creamier texture will reveal itself.
2020 Lewis MacGregor Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir $100 13.9% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Dark and brooding, the aromatics showcase a broad spectrum of black and red fruits in the 2020 Lewis MacGregor Estate Pinot Noir. The concentration on the nose is compelling and is leavened with hints of anise, bergamot, and cedar. Broad and saturating on the entry, the wine overwhelms the palate with dense notes of berry fruits, citrus, and black tea. The sensation of the black tea-like tannin lingers on the palate all the way through the long finish.
2020 Allen Vineyard Chardonnay $65__________14.2% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Sun-ripened yellow apple and fresh pear, with hints of poached pear, come through on the nose. Crushed rocks and quartz aromas lift the aromatics along with a hint of ginger. The palate is wonderfully layered with excellent tannin structure and weight, which is typical, and remarkably consistent, for the Allen site. The finish is punctuated with a sensation of quinine, giving this wine terrific closure.
2020 Drake Estate Vineyard Chardonnay $65__________14.3% alc Russian River Valley AVA
On the nose, yellow apple and Meyer lemon notes combine with hints of shiso and tarragon. The Drake Estate Vineyard is situated next to a riverbank, and the aromas of the nearby woods inﬂuences the aromas and ﬂavors of the wine, creating something with character and intrigue. Layered and fat on the palate, the newer plantings of old-Wente and Calera Chardonnay clones contribute to the excellent structure and minerality in this cool climate beauty.
2020 Lewis MacGregor Estate Vineyard Chardonnay $65________14.6% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Tangerine, spiced pear, and hints of green tea are layered in this wonderfully complex and aromatic wine. The barrel fermentation, ageing, and lees contact further add depth and interest on the nose. The old-Wente selection produces very small berries, which translates into wine with excellent concentration and minerality. Citrus, orchard fruits, and apple flavors mix on the palate, making this offering from our Lewis MacGregor Estate one not to be missed.
2020 Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard Chardonnay $65__________14.5% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Orchard fruits, jasmine flowers, and musk melon combine to form a medley of aromas in the glass. The layered and complex bouquet makes it difficult to point out any singular fruit characteristic due to the mixture of clones interplanted in our Williams Selyem Estate Vineyard, which are harvested all at once. On the palate the wine is as equally layered as it is on the nose, with orchard fruits and melon flavors dominating the profile. The soft acidity is overshadowed by a mouthcoating texture that saturates and clings to the palate throughout the finish.
2020 Bacigalupi Vineyard Zinfandel $65__________15.2% alc Russian River Valley AVA
Notes of boysenberry, blackberry, and pomegranate jump out of the glass in this classic Bacigalupi Zinfandel. Located on Westside Road, the vineyard enjoys the perfect confluence of moderate climate and rich soil that allows for a long hangtime, resulting in terrific, layered wines. The nose is further complexed with baking spices and anise, adding interest and intrigue. The palate is soft and supple, with a refined texture and an underlying richness. The acidity is seamlessly woven into the architecture of this wine and further adds to its grace and elegance.
2020 Saitone Estate Vineyard Zinfandel $65__________15.1% alc Russian River Valley
The raspberry notes, combined with other fresh red fruits, in the aromatics of this offering from the Saitone Vineyard are characteristic of the site. Hints of anise, baking spice, tangerine peel, and a subtle note of Goji berry add complexity in this multi-faceted wine. Zesty on the palate, the concentration is due to the low yields in this old vine vineyard, which is aged over 120 years. While sizeable and tannic, the wine has terrific balance with extract and acid, and finishes with a sensation of citrus pith that gives way to minerals and crushed rocks.
On our website, you will find tasting sheets in PDF format for each of these new releases as well as most of our library wine. These down-loadable documents include tasting notes, technical information, and a vintage summary. A recommended cellaring timeframe can be found on the wine page. To access this information, visit www.williamsselyem.com and navigate to the ‘Wine Library’ section where you can search by wine name, varietal, vintage, vineyard, or region (AVA).
As was mentioned in the Vintage Summary, several vineyards from the cooler sites, mostly in the Sonoma Coast AVA and a few in the later ripening area of the Russian River Valley, were the ones that suffered the most from the effects of the Walbridge Fire. Therefore, after extensive testing and evaluation, the following Pinot Noir wines were, unfortunately, not produced in 2020 due to smoke-related taint:
Olivet Lane (spring release)
Sonoma Coast AVA (spring release)
Terra de Promissio (spring release)
Precious Mountain (fall release)
Coastlands (fall release)
Drake Estate (tasting salon wine)
October 14 & 15 | CA Pick Up Weekend
October 24 | Main Ship Date for Most Areas
November 4, 5 & 6 | NY Pickup Weekend
November 7 | Shipping to Hot States (AL, AZ, FL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, & TX)
-Online ordering is strongly encouraged! To access your allocation, use the customized hyperlink in
the email we’ll send to you on the opening day of the release. Or sign in via our website using your
– Orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Allocations are not guaranteed; they represent the
number of bottles available to you until the wine sells out (which is often before the last day to order).
Please place your order as soon as possible for best order fulfillment.
– For bottles beyond your allocation, please use the wish list column. These requests will be filled, if
possible, before the close of the release. You do not need to include payment for wish list
wines. We will charge or invoice your account later if the request is filled.
– If paying by check, please send via mail to 7227 Westside Rd, Healdsburg CA 95448
– Order confirmations will be sent via email. Please verify your email address!
– Faxed or mailed orders submitted without payment will not be filled; phone and email orders are not
-Wines will begin shipping to most areas on Monday, October 24. Shipments to ‘hot states’ (AL, AZ, FL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, & TX) will take place on Monday, November 7.
– Some states do not permit direct wine shipments, or they may limit the amount of wine we can ship to
you. Please see our website for more details and shipping/handling fees.
– We require a valid shipping address (sorry, no PO Boxes) where there is someone 21+ years of age available to sign for the package, during regular business hours.
Wine Pickup Information
– WS does not apply a shipping/handling charge for CA Pickup orders. However, CA sales tax will apply.
– The Fall 2022 CA Pickup Weekend Event will be held on Friday, October 14 & Saturday, October 15. Please note that outside of these dates, there will be no curbside appointments available for allocation pickup.
– If your wine is not picked up by Saturday, October 15, it will automatically be shipped to the billing address on the order the week of October 31. Please note that shipping charges will apply.
– WS does not apply a shipping/handling charge for CA Pickup going to the third-party vendors listed above. Handling fees may be added by the vendor; see your contract or contact them directly for more info.
– You must establish an account with the third-party vendor of your choice prior to order pickup.
– Please also note that these vendors do not allow pickups from their location.
– If you intend to pick up your wine at Millbrook Winery, select the “NY Pickup” option on your order.
-The NY Pickup Weekend will be held November 4, 5 & 6. If you select this option, we will communicate event details as we get closer to the event.
Address: 26 Wing Road, Millbrook, NY 12545; Phone: (845) 677.8383 ext. 21
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: www.millbrookwine.com