Williams Selyem 1997 Russian River Valley Olivet Lane Pinot Noir

This was my last bottle of Williams Selyem, and I am very pleased that it was not completely over the hill. I waited a few years too long to drink this wine, but it has retained a fair amount of fruit without being overwhelmed by that unpleasant, lean structure that I find in older California Pinot Noirs. This was, obviously, a fully mature wine with nicely integrated tanins. That sounds stupid and pompous, but what it really means is that the tanins blended nicely with the other flavors of the wine. It threw just a bit of sediment, and was a surprisingly dark and thick looking red. The finish was nice, although not particularly long. The fruit was disappearing, but there was enough to make this a very nice wine to go with grilled lamb chops and goat cheese and onion mashed potatoes. I was surprised how long this wine lasted after we opened it. I have found that these wines are quite fragile and decay very quickly, sometimes in a matter of minutes. But this beauty stood up to an hour of air before we happily finished it off.

Oh, the reason I don’t have any more Williams Selyem? I found that while prices were going up, quality was going down. So I stopped buying. And while it seems that the prices have eased, I am unwilling to spend $30-$40 on their generic Pinot Noirs, and more on the single vineyard wines. There are other, more interesting wineries that are producing some very nice wines for the same price.

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