Williams Selyem Fanucchi-Wood Road Zinfandel 2017
Deep and dark, the wine reveals only a little of what it has to offer at this young age. Boysenberry and fresh cracked Tellicherry peppercorn are immediately obvious on the nose. With air, notes of strawberry confiture and stone fruit emerge, while hints of tamari and hoisin offer a deeper, brooding character. Flavors of boysenberry and black cherry come through the dense palate. The precise and refreshing acidity adds freshness not often found in Zinfandel. Because of the firm tannins and refreshing acidity there is long ageing potential, but this wine can also be enjoyed today with a ribeye steak seared over charcoal with a shishito pepper salsa on the side.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Peter Fanucchi farms seven acres of mixed blacks on Wood Road, the vines planted in 1890, the census 90 percent zinfandel interspersed with alicante bouchet and petite sirah. He carefully times the tilling of the vineyard to sustain the dry-farmed vines, working organically and limiting his sulfur applications to two or three times per year. This is the second Williams Selyem release from this vineyard, brought into the stable by winemaker Jeff Mangahas, who worked with Fanucchi’s grapes at Hartford Family. His 2017 is ripe, rich and smoky, supercharged with red fruit and perked up by dusty spice in the tannins. It feels complete, a pleasurable zin with years of development ahead.
Williams Selyem Winery began as a simple dream of two friends, Ed Selyem and Burt Williams, who pursued weekend winemaking as a hobby in 1979 in a garage in Forestville, California, and made their first commercial vintage in 1981. In less than two decades, Burt and Ed created a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Together they set a new standard for Pinot Noir winemaking in the United States, aligning Sonoma County's Russian River Valley in the firmament of the best winegrowing regions of the world. Today John and Kathe Dyson, who purchased the winery from Burt and Ed in 1998, carry on the passion for Pinot Noir winemaking without compromise. As for the wines... they just keep getting better and better.
A standout region for its decidedly Californian take on Burgundian varieties, the Russian River Valley is named for the eponymous river that flows through it. While there are warm pockets of the AVA, it is mostly a cool-climate growing region thanks to breezes and fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in Russian River, with the best examples demonstrating a unique combination of richness and restraint. The cool weather makes Russian River an ideal AVA for sparkling wine production, utilizing the aforementioned varieties. Zinfandel also performs exceptionally well here. Within the Russian River Valley lie the smaller appellations of Chalk Hill and Green Valley. The former, farther from the ocean, is relatively warm, with a focus on red and white Bordeaux varieties. The latter is the coolest, foggiest parcel of the Russian River Valley and is responsible for outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Unapologetically bold, spice-driven and jammy, Zinfandel has secured it’s title as the darling of California vintners by adapting well to the states’ diverse microclimates and landscapes. Born in Croatia, it later made its way to southern Italy where it was named Primitivo. Fortunately, the imperial nursery of Vienna catalogued specimens of the vine, which sourced a journey to New England in 1829. Parading the true American spirit, Zinfandel found a new home in California during the Gold Rush of 1849. Somm Secret—California's ancient vines of Zinfandel are those that survived the neglect of Prohibition; today these vines produce the most concentrated, ethereal and complex examples.