By The Glass
2006 pinots feature wide range of tastes
In the second week of August, following the Russian River Pinot Noir Forum, the Williams Selyem winery holds a tasting of its portfolio releases for invited guests.
In 1998, when founders Burt Williams and Ed Selyem sold the winery to John and Kathe Dyson, many questioned its future. The Williams Selyem name had become synonymous with hand-crafted single-vineyard gems.
The tasting last Wednesday included some highly regarded single-vineyard pinot noir selections from the 2006 vintage. The diversity of the grape certainly shows how winemaker Bob Cabral has embraced Burt and Ed's legacy and helps the vineyard site speak for itself.
Selections from California's Russian River Valley appellations offered a purity of pinot flavors. Bucher Vineyard displayed a touch of earth tones, with aromas of Rainier cherries, licorice, rosemary, herbs and a dollop of toasty oak. Flax Vineyard was a touch richer, with black fruit, boysenberry, jam and spices, and an almost silky texture.
Litton Estate Vineyard is fragrant with flavors of boysenberry, cola, licorice, with firm tannins and fleshy rich finish. Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard was one of my favorites, with blackberry fruit, cherry jam, licorice, clove, hints of toastiness and a rich, brightly structured finish. The Allen Vineyard selection was of a richer style, with brooding black cherry, strawberry, mocha, floral, vanilla and toasty oak.
The Pacific Ocean's maritime influence on the vineyards of the Sonoma Coast fosters an environment for grapes to ripen later and develop flavor. Peay Vineyard offers wines bright with flavors of cranberry, tart cherry, blueberry, Asian spices and mint, and a soft, minerally profile. Coastlands Vineyard displays floral strawberry, cherry, cranberry flavors, with a touch of licorice, kirsch, mocha and rich, brooding tannins.
Hirsch Vineyard's wines are the most masculine, tasting of black fruit, herbs, spice, licorice, dark chocolate, espresso and a hint of cumin, framed with toasty oak. Precious Mountain Vineyard is finely woven and elegant with aromas of strawberry jam, wild raspberries, roses, Asian spices, sandalwood, with a long finish and finely integrated tannins for aging ... definitely a keeper.
In surrounding appellations, Vista Verde Vineyards in San Benito County is a 1,200-acre estate-owned vineyard near Mount Harlan. With more than 700 acres in grapes, only the best four acres are used to produce this wine ... floral and elegant like a French Vosne Romanee with cherry, strawberry, mocha, dried herbs and a supple balanced finish.
Weir Vineyard, in the Yorkville Highlands, is brimming with flavors of wild berries, cherry jam, earth, minerals and touch of vanilla. Ferrington Vineyard, in the cooler reaches of Northern California's Anderson Valley, is packed with wild berries, raspberry, dark chocolate, anise, kirsch, toasty oak, medium-firm tannins and a rich, lingering finish. I am continually surprised by wines from Anderson and this one is no exception.
The 2006 pinot noirs are an excellent example of the vintage and the quality speaks for itself. In Vino Veritas!
Kevin Toyama is at sommelier at the Halekulani and an advanced certificate holder from the Court of Master Sommeliers. This column is written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org