The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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64 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 { cellar view } BURT WILLIAMS, A PRINTER, AND ED SELYEM, A WINE merchant, began making wine in 1981. They set up shop in a Sonoma garage in Fulton, California. They called their "winery" Hacienda del Rio but they got sued by the now defunct Hacienda Winery, so they changed their name to Williams Selyem. Their initial efforts were with Zinfandel, but they soon began focusing on Pinot Noir, mainly from the Russian River Valley. Howard and Ann Allen started growing grapes in Napa, but in 1970 their attention moved to Sonoma's Russian River Valley. They bought a former prune orchard and planted it to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Now a famed grape source, the Allen Vineyard surrounds the sleek new Williams Selyem winery. It is planted with Pommard, Dijon 115 and Wente clones. Howard Allen, who died in early 2013, said of his long-term partnership with Williams Selyem: "I couldn't ask for better people to work with." Through the 1999 vintage, Burt Williams made the wine; in 2000 current (soon to retire) winemaker Bob Cabral took over. On June 19, 2014 surrounded by the sultry fuchsia tones of the beautiful Kanpai Lounge in the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco, five judges from the San Francisco International Wine Competition convened to taste eight vintages of the Williams Selyem Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir. The tasters were Fred Dame, MS, VP of Prestige Accounts, Southern Wine & Spirits; Marcus Garcia, Sommelier, Fleur de Lys restaurant, San Francisco; Gregory Walter, Editor and Publisher, Pinot Report; Dr. Rowald Hepp, Director, Schloss Vollrads winery; and myself. All of the bottles were obtained directly from the winery. THE PANELISTS Dr. Rowald Hepp, Director of Germany's Schloss Vollrads. The tasting took place at the Kanpai Lounge at San Francisco's Hotel Nikko. A Match Made in Russian River Valley by Anthony Dias Blue / photos by Stephanie Buckler The 2004 Allen Vineyard Pinot Noir was pro- claimed "a classic" by the panel. GREAT GROWERS AND GREAT WINEMAKERS MEET IN A VERTICAL OF WILLIAMS SELYEM ALLEN VINEYARD PINOT NOIR

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