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.
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.
While the Russian River Valley is a large appellation with multiple climate zones and soil types, it is best known for cool-climate varieties, with Pinot Noir as the most celebrated. The grapes benefit from a reliable late afternoon flow of Pacific Ocean fog through the Petaluma Gap and along the Russian River Valley that ensures slow and steady ripening and the preservation of grape acidity. Today many of California’s most highly regarded Pinot Noir vineyards are in the Russian River Valley, along with its sub-appellation, Green Valley.
Historically Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs had bright red fruit and delicate earthy, mineral notes. But changes in viticultural and winemaking practices have led to stylistic changes in some of the region’s wines. Adjustments to canopy management, among other techniques, have resulted in riper fruit and bolder wines as well. These show flavors of black cherry, blackberry, cola, spice and darker, loamy earth tones, accenting traditional Pinot Noir notes of strawberry, raspberry and light cherry.