Charming Pinot Noir - Wine & Spirits Magazine

Charming Pinot Noir

The winery and Estate Vineyard at Williams Selyem. (Photo courtesy of Williams Selyem)

Burt Williams and Ed Selyem made their first single-vineyard pinot noir in a rented garage in 1985. By the time they sold their company to John and Kathe Dyson in 1998, they had developed a portfolio of coastal pinot noir, focused on the Russian River Valley. In fact, their wines defined the region’s pinot. The Dysons set out to build on the founders’ philosophy—to make all the pinot noirs in exactly the same way, hoping to show off the differences of each vineyard site. Jeff Mangahas, who has made the wine here since 2011, learned those protocols from Bob Cabral, who learned them from Williams: the grapes foot trod in open-top fermenters (stainless-steel dairy vats cut in half, lengthwise); the same strain of local yeast that Williams originally isolated; no pumping, no filtering. Mangahas now works at a modern winery on Westside Road in the Russian River Valley, built on land the Dysons purchased in 2002, including 30 acres where John Dyson began planning an estate vineyard. That vineyard is now coming into full maturity: Those vines produced a layered and complex 2020 with a natural (rather than a natty) feel. Tart blackcap raspberry flavors and spruce-bough scents accent the plush texture, a wine of charm and harmony, sexy and sure of its intentions.


Williams Selyem 2020 Russian River Valley Estate Vineyard Pinot Noir

Every week, our editors highlight a wine that intrigued them in our blind panel tastings, expanding on their tasting note in this space. These are entirely editorial choices; there are no paid placements. Subscribers can also access the original tasting note by searching here.

Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.

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