Spring 2021 Newsletter
What a tumultuous and strange year 2020 was. From all of us at Williams Selyem, we hope that you have remained safe, sane, healthy, well-rested, and fully stocked with your favorite Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. While there were some serious challenges, like many of you, we have learned to adapt, discovered new skills, and are focusing on the positive developments that have emerged. We saw unprecedented demand for our wine and for interaction with the winery. As it turns out, a global pandemic and stay-at-home makes people very thirsty. We also learned that many of you were missing the connection with the winery since we were not able to host you for a while and could not see you at pickup weekends.
Between Zoom, Webinars and Virtual tastings, we were able to bridge the gap and be in contact virtually with many of you. We will continue with these programs and encourage you to join. Our monthly online events cover a variety of topics, including previews of the coming release, food and wine pairings, in- depth exploration of specific vintages, and much, much more. Navigate to the Visit page of our website (www.williamsselyem.com/visit) to find out more.
We also invite you to connect with us and choose from several exclusive virtual tasting packages. Each package includes an opportunity to purchase a specific set of wines outside of your standard allocation. You will be guided through a wine tasting with a member of our hospitality team from the comfort of your own home. Virtual tastings are great for team building, birthdays, and corporate events as well! Please email us at email@example.com to let us know you are interested.
Happily, many of you were still able to visit us when we reopened in late spring. We appreciated connecting with so many of you as we have been actively conducting tastings outdoors since then. Tours and tastings at the Estate are safely conducted outdoors in heated tents. Our hosts are up-to-speed on procedures designed to keep you and your guests safe, while providing the same superb hospitality Williams Selyem is known for. Book your appointment via the contact form on our website (www.williamsselyem.com/visit) at least two weeks in advance of your preferred appointment date!
The situation in California is changing weekly and we are not sure if we will be allowed to continue to host tours in January and February. Please check with us directly and be assured that when we are allowed to be open, we will be. Of course, as conditions evolve, and we learn what the future brings, we will keep you informed.
Before we turn the page to 2021, we are thrilled to report that the winery was not physically impacted by the fires in 2020. Thankfully, many of our vineyards had already been picked prior to the fires, so the majority of our wine was safe as well. We were not able pick a couple of vineyards, so we will be producing a bit less wine from the 2020 vintage. Stocking up on the 2019 vintage is highly recommended. We are incredibly thrilled with the wines from the 2019 vintage, which are very approachable and vibrant. We look forward to sharing these wines with you and raising a glass with you in 2021. Be sure to use the “Wish List” function when ordering to request additional wine. Below enjoy some detailed tasting notes from Jeff as well as his 2019 vintage notes.
Tasting Notes for Spring 2021 Release Wines by Jeff Mangahas
Pinot Noir – Elegant
2019 Central Coast Pinot Noir $39 13.4% alc. San Benito County AVA
Showy notes of lilac and berry fruits combine with citrus and woody spice notes in this elegant wine. The Central Coast is a blend of various blocks at the Vista Verde Vineyard, meant to highlight the elegance of this unique site. Perched on the hilltops and grown on limestone rich soils, the grapes enjoy a nice, long cool growing season. This translates into a wine with an excellent balance of berry fruits, dried herbs, and minerally undertones.
2019 Sonoma County Pinot Noir $39 13.8% alc. Sonoma County AVA
Strawberry and dark cherry aromas abound in this wonderfully charming wine. Notes of English Breakfast tea are woven into notes of potpourri and wood spice. Serious on the palate, the wine exhibits a wonderful balance of concentration, freshness, and balance. The tannins are approachable, as usual, and this wine is a perfect choice for early consumption.
Pinot Noir – Medium-Bodied
2019 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir $58 13.7% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
Quintessential Pinot Noir is all about perfume and elegance and the 2019 Russian River Valley typifies that. Sourced from varying parts of the AVA, this bottling seems to get better each year. Dark cherry notes and a bouquet of dried rose petals and lavender are evoked from the glass. Citrus peel, clove, anise, and dried herbs mix to add depth and complexity. The palate is equally as complex with savory herbs and dark red fruit flavors abounding. Tenacious and saturating on the tongue, the flavors are very tightly woven together while the acidity provides freshness all the way to the tea-like finish.
2019 Terra de Promissio Vineyard Pinot Noir $65 13.5% alc. Sonoma Coast AVA
Perfumed with dark cherry and floral notes, the Terra de Promissio Vineyard has become a perennial favorite. Situated in the wind-swept Petaluma Gap, the vines struggle to set fruit and enjoy a long ripening cycle. The net effect is a wine with complexity and depth. Medium-bodied in weight, this wine seems to gain strength with time as the tannins come together. This is a great wine with ethereal qualities.
2019 Olivet Lane Vineyard Pinot Noir $82 13.5% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
Olivet Lane Vineyard is unlike many of our vineyard designates in that it is made of a single clone of Pinot Noir called Martini. In a way, these old vines have adapted to the variation in the site over time to offer a diversity of aromas and flavors, showcasing concentration and depth. Black cherry notes and leathery undertones mix to create the classic Pinot perfume. English breakfast tea further adds to the intrigue on the nose. The palate highlights a dense core of fruit in the mid-palate with an overlay of tea- like tannins and fresh acidity that drives to the finish.
2019 Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir $75 13.6% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
Another classic in the making, the Westside Road Neighbors is a must-have. The fruit purity is outstanding with aromas of crystalline red fruits along with notes of macerated Amarena cherry. Aromas of bergamot, cedar, and dried herbs blend in this wonderfully complex and layered wine. Mouthcoating and rich, the palate offers layer upon layer of various red and black fruits. Citrus and black tea notes offer a fresh liveliness while finishing with a touch of minerals to give this wine its signature fineness.
Pinot Noir – Full-Bodied
2019 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $58 13.8% alc. Sonoma Coast AVA
A deeper pitched nose of dried herbs, cedar, and red and black fruits are immediately evident in the nose. Bass notes typify this Sonoma Coast bottling, compared to the more elegant Russian River Valley. Varied terrain and weather contribute to the overall complexion and translate into a more angular wine. This is best highlighted on the palate with robust, resinous, mouthcoating tannin which are persistent across the palate. Wrapped up in the structure are the savory and dark fruit flavors while the finish gives a strong mineral impression.
2019 Papera Vineyard Zinfandel $65 14.9% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
A fruit bowl of black fruits and currant with undertones of anise, fennel, and bramble saturate the nose. An intriguing note of India ink also comes through and is woven into this complex and layered wine. The oak is nearly invisible but provides hints of wood spices and vanilla. The palate is immediately stained with blue and black fruit while the snappy acidity keeps this wine from getting heavy and drives the length. The wine is young and delicious today but holding on for a few years will be rewarding.
2019 Fanucchi-Wood Road Vineyard Zinfandel $65 15.2% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
Surprising top notes of apricot come through and mix with notes of boysenberry in this powerful and brooding wine. There is no mistaking that this is an old-vine vineyard. At 125 years-old, this completely dry-farmed vineyard consistently produces harmonious wine with tremendous concentration of tannin and flavor while remaining lithe on the palate. Minerals and dark chocolate-like tannins complete the palate profile in this very complex wine.
2019 Unoaked Chardonnay $39 13.8% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
Sourced from older vines in the Russian River Valley, the Unoaked Chardonnay displays tremendous depth and character. Aromatic and rich, the nose displays spiced pear and citrus notes with some tropical undertones while notes of yellow apple are also apparent. The key to richness and development of texture is sur lie aging and batonnage. This means that, much like barrel fermented Chardonnay, the Unoaked stays on the lees and is stirred weekly in tank to encourage mouthfeel development. Coupled with the concentration from lower yielding old vines, the result is a wine with a sense of place and purpose.
2019 Heintz Vineyard Chardonnay $65 13.9% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
The gorgeous nose captivates the senses with a kaleidoscope of aromas. Notes of fresh pineapple, yellow apple, musk melon, and citrus all mix with wood spice elements. Crushed rocks and minerals belie the fruit notes adding further intrigue to the nose. The palate offers a density and richness of fruit and a compelling tannin structure. Minerals on the finish complete the picture in this full-package wine.
2019 Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay $65 14.6% alc. Russian River Valley AVA
A basket full of freshly picked apples is the perfect description for the aromatics of the Olivet Lane Chardonnay. Made exclusively from the Old Wente selection of Chardonnay, this wine is also typified by notes of spiced pear and quince. While floral and delicate on the nose, the wine is deceptively structured on the palate owing to the tannins and perfectly accented oak elements. Refreshing acidity stretches out the palate and the wine finishes with subtle minerality. Butter poached lobster, or even a lobster roll, would be an outstanding match.
Late Harvest Gewurztraminer
2019 Vista Verde Late Harvest Gewurztraminer $40/375mL 9.3% alc. San Benito County AVA
Spicy and boisterous aromas in the glass make the Gewurztraminer truly special and unique. Rose oil and lychee elements along with more classic poached stone fruit notes dominate to nose. The natural structure of this variety coupled with barrel fermentation in new oak adds structure and depth with notes of vanilla and nut spice which further round out the complexity. The exotic aromas are echoed on the palate with a creamy richness without being too heavy.
2019 Vintage Summary by VP of Winemaking Jeff Mangahas:
The 2019 growing season started with ample rainfall in the winter months and finished well above average with over 51 inches on Westside Road. Wet soil and cool temperatures conspired to delay bud break nearly two weeks later than historical average. Moderate to slightly above average temperatures ensued, and the vegetative cycle caught up aggressively.
Flowering started under ideal conditions but a late May rain event delayed flowering for a week once better weather returned. This had some impact mostly where there was full bloom and created some shatter and smaller clusters with millerandage or “hens and chick”. These smaller clusters are desirable because they are looser and the smaller the berry, the higher the tendency to yield concentrated and flavorful wines. The remainder of the growing season was largely uneventful, less one minor heat event in mid-August.
August was largely fog-free which has become the new normal. The result of less fog intrusion is that nights were warmer and the days sunnier which tended to move photosynthesis and maturation along more quickly. With the ideal conditions early in the season, and overall moderate weather, the maturation gap on a later bud break was reduced and the harvest started on a predictable timeline.
The harvest schedule was mostly routine and rather leisurely with grapes arriving to the winery in pristine condition. The 2019 wines are impressive with excellent color, depth, and precision of site. The polish of the tannins and softer acid profiles will offer early appeal but can certainly hold on for years.
Ask the Winemaker – Questions for Jeff
Question: What is your favorite wine from this release?
It’s hard to pick favorites as there is so much heart and soul that goes into each bottle of wine that we produce. There are so many people involved from growing the grapes, to the harvest and crush and putting it into the bottle and consequently, I feel a special connection to each wine we make.
I think that one of the coolest wines that we make is the Westside Road Neighbors. John Dyson often refers to the Westside Road Neighbors as the Chianti Classico of the Russian River Valley as it connotes more unique qualities and richness as compared to Chianti, or in this case the Russian River Valley on the whole. Westside Road is in a region of the RRV known as the Middle Reach. This part of the RRV is well known for a moderate to warm climate and unique well drained soils not found in other parts of the Valley. As a result, wines from this region can be structured but with a roundness and resolution that is unparalleled. The “Neighbors” that go into the blend are pioneers and highly regarded vineyards in and of themselves. The Rochioli, Bacigalupi, Allen, Bucher, Flax and WS Estate Vineyards all have unique properties and distinct personalities and as such we bottle most of them as vineyard designates. By skillfully and artfully blending these varying flavor profiles, something even more special can be made that not only elevates our perception of Russian River Valley but also represents the uniqueness of our neighborhood. The Westside Road Neighbors bottling is a perennial favorite of mine as it always strikes a balance of power and elegance with incredible detail and precision and the 2019 Westside epitomizes that.
Introducing Two New Wines
We are very excited to announce the upcoming release of two new wines available when you visit the winery. The new wines come from the historic Saitone Vineyard, which was purchased from the Saitone family prior to the 2016 harvest. This cherished piece of Sonoma County agricultural history is one of the oldest of the old-vine vineyards remaining in the Piner-Olivet area of the Russian River AVA. The 33-acre property was first planted by Antonio Saitone in 1895 and consists of 26 planted acres, including 12 acres of old-vine Zinfandel. Like many of these old-vine vineyards, Saitone has several other grape varieties scattered throughout the property. There are a few individual rows, and even single vines, interplanted with red varieties like Carignane, Grand Noir, Alicante Bouschet, and Mixed Blacks; and white varieties such as Palomino and Muscadelle. We isolated these during picking and combined the red and white varieties separately to make our first blends from this vineyard. In honor of the founders of the vineyard, we have named these Antonio’s Red Blend and Maria’s White Blend. Planted over 120 years ago, these dry-farmed vines still produce wonderfully expressive wines. These will be available in the tasting salon only and through our exclusive summer tours at the Saitone Estate (Memorial Day through Labor Day).
- February 8 | General Release Opens
- March 7 | Release Closes
- March 8 | Shipping begins – Hot States (AL, AZ, FL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, & TX), weather permitting
- March 22 | Shipping begins – All other areas, weather permitting
At the time of writing, we are certain that we will not be able to hold our California pickup weekend event in the traditional format. Again, we look forward to offering curbside pickup by appointment, as we did in the fall, to those in the immediate area.
Seated tastings at Millbrook worked well in fall in lieu of the NY Pick Up Weekend (as a necessary modification) but we hold out hope that we can return to the usual event. We will update you via email as things become clearer.
We thank you for your continued patience, understanding and your support with ensuring the safety of both employees and your fellow members.
-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 user credentials.
– 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, after the close of the release on March 8. You do not need to include payment for wish list wines; we will charge or invoice your account later if the request is filled.
– While online ordering is strongly encouraged, you may fax your completed order form to
(707) 431-4862. 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 accepted.
-Wines will begin shipping on Monday, March 8 for orders shipping to (AL, AZ, FL, GA, LA, NC, SC, TN, & TX), weather permitting. Orders shipping to all other states will begin on Monday, March 22, weather permitting.
-Deadline for address changes, postponements, or order modifications is presented when we confirm your address via email. Once the order is packed, we are unable to edit the order. To ensure accuracy, please review your receipt.
– Some states do not permit direct wine shipments, or they may limit the amount of wine we can ship to you. Please see the back of your order form for more details and shipping/handling fees.
– We require a shipping address where there is someone 21+ years of age available to sign for the package during regular business hours.