Localization: Russian River Valley, California, USA
Tasting Notes: Sourced from older vines in the Russian River Valley, the Unoaked Chardonnay displays tremendous depth and character. Aromatic and rich, the nose displays spiced pear and citrus notes with some tropical undertones while notes of yellow apple are also apparent. The key to richness and development of texture is sur lie aging and batonnage. This means that, much like barrel-fermented Chardonnay, the Unoaked stays on the lees and is stirred weekly in the tank to encourage mouthfeel development. Coupled with the concentration from lower-yielding old vines, the result is a wine with a sense of place and purpose.
The Domain: Like most good stories, the history of Williams Selyem owes much to serendipity. If a grower with an abundance of fruit hadn’t given Burt Williams a few tons of free grapes in the 1970s, Burt might never have discovered his love and flair for winemaking. And if Burt and his partner Ed Selyem had been able to afford the French Burgundies they both favored, they might never have tried making their own Pinot Noir.
The two friends didn’t set out to produce wines for anyone but themselves. And they surely never imagined that their humble experiment in home winemaking would spawn a cult-status winery of international acclaim. Together, Burt and Ed set a new standard for American-made Pinot Noir and elevated Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley to among the best wine-growing regions in the world.