Williams Selyem Saitone Estate Zinfandel 2017
The nose captures one’s attention immediately with a complex array of fruity and savory qualities. A fruit basket of aromas spring from the glass with red, blue, and black fruits and a top note of stone fruit. Layered with hints of anise and cracked pepper, the depth seems to go forever in the glass. In the mouth, the wine has incredible concentration of flavor without ever losing focus due to the zesty acidity. The Santa Rosa Plain area, where Saitone is planted, is a Zinfandel lover’s heaven; it produces wines with complexity and focus. Citrus and minerality on the finish completes the palate of this gorgeous offering of old-vine Zinfandel.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2017 Zinfandel Saitone Estate Vineyard has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and scents of peach pie, cinnamon stick, apricot, nectarine and bramble fruits with oodles of boysenberry and blueberry plus loads of exotic spices at the core. The palate is medium-bodied, silky textured and loaded with spice-laced fruits supported by grainy tannins and juicy freshness and finishing very long. 229 cases were made. Rating: 93
Antonio Saitone planted this vineyard on Olivet Road in 1895, mostly with zinfandel, but also with carignane, alicante bouschet and chasselas doré. The vines were interplanted, as was the tradition at the time, along with a range of other varieties, in this case, muscadelle, French colombard, muscat, petit bouschet, criolla mediana and grand noir. Williams Selyem purchased the vineyard in 2016 and continues to dry farm the old bush vines. They produced a brisk 2017, with plenty of acidity to tighten around the plump fruit and lend it structural elasticity. The flavors range from tart red plum to black raspberry and peach, warm, spicy and mineral-driven rather than sweet.
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.