Williams Selyem Westside Road Neighbors Pinot Noir 2017
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Spice cherries, wild strawberries, and crushed violets, notes, as well as plenty of spice, all emerge from the 2017 Pinot Noir Westside Road Neighbors. This Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is medium-bodied, has a wonderful sense of purity and ripe fruit, ultra-fine tannins, a weightless texture, and a great finish. This is incredibly classy and one of the more ethereal, elegant, and seamless wines in the lineup, if not in this entire report.
Long on black cherries with adjuncts of cola, sweet soil and dried flowers and showing an extra fruity push in both its its expansive aromas and deep, confidently focused, ever-so-slightly juicy flavors, this slightly supple and very wellbalanced Pinot is at once fairly weighty and enlivened by nicely integrated acidity. That it will age easily for another four or five years is beyond any doubt, yet, in all truth, its teasing succulence is to tempt earlier drinking, and we find it hard to argue against pulling its cork without a lengthy wait.
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.
Thin-skinned, finicky and temperamental, Pinot Noir is also one of the most rewarding grapes to grow and remains a labor of love for some of the greatest vignerons in Burgundy. Fairly adaptable but highly reflective of the environment in which it is grown, Pinot Noir prefers a cool climate and requires low yields to achieve high quality. Outside of France, outstanding examples come from in Oregon, California and throughout specific locations in wine-producing world. Somm Secret—André Tchelistcheff, California’s most influential post-Prohibition winemaker decidedly stayed away from the grape, claiming “God made Cabernet. The Devil made Pinot Noir.”