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 Vintage1997 Label 1 of 25 
(NOTE: Label borrowed from 1996 vintage.)
ProducerWilliams Selyem
VarietyPinot Noir
VineyardOlivet Lane Vineyard
SubRegionSonoma County
AppellationRussian River Valley

Drinking Windows and Values
Drinking window: Drink between 2001 and 2007 (based on 8 user opinions)
Wine Market Journal quarterly auction price: See Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Olivet Lane on the Wine Market Journal.

Community Tasting History

Community Tasting Notes (average 91.1 pts. and median of 92 pts. in 33 notes) - hiding notes with no text

 Tasted by napasoutherner on 12/15/2014 & rated 95 points: Boy this wine was a surprise of the year. Had at a pre-2007 Pinot event dinner. I would swear this wine would have been corked; however, it really turned on the charm. On opening the wine was musty and somewhat flat; however, after 1.5 hours the bouquet really opened up. Strong earth/floral tones to the nose.. very romantic sensations of fruit. Even after almost 20 years this wine showed depth to the tongue and had a wonderful finish. (516 views)
 Tasted by TONY FONTAINE on 8/17/2013 & rated 89 points: 1997 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, Olivet Lane

Decanted for Ĺ an hour prior to tasting, served from magnum. My score: 91

This is typically one of the darkest versions of pinot, I didnít expect any bright flavors of Burgundy, but I did expect this wine to hold up for 16 years and it didnít disappoint. The color was still a dark plum, as with the Dunn there was no bricking. The tannins are pretty much at the end of days and this wine, although displaying elegance with black plum and ripe strawberry, rose, kirsch and maybe a bit of caramel. Mostly reserved but rich. Definitely a drink now wine; itís peak was probably 5 years ago when I last had it; it was youthful, bright and delicious Ė I thought it would last a decade. Iím really glad all of you had a chance to taste this wine now (because it wonít last another 5 years). This win is like meeting an sophisticated older woman who has all the charm and elegance gained by years of refinement, you can only imagine what she was like in her youth! (1384 views)
 Tasted by Wine_Bear on 7/15/2013 flawed bottle: corked (1378 views)
 Tasted by GrapesRGreat on 6/11/2013 & rated 93 points: This wine definitely bucks the norm for Burt Williams wines at 14.9% alc. It is almost Amarone-like in its dark, concentrated fruit characteristics. Started to sing 3 hours after opening, still med plus tannins (esp. for a Pinot). Definitely a fun wine to drink, but not typical of what I was expecting. Olivet Lane does tend to be dark and brooding and this was no different. (1465 views)
 Tasted by winecat9 on 1/28/2011 & rated 89 points: Beautiful color with no bricking. Vibrant bouquet dominated by black cherry. Alcohol mostly in check even though it is at 14.9%. Good balance, body and texture. Nice dark cherry flavors but fade very quickly as this wine has practically no finish -- its only shortcoming. Surprisingly good at 13 years, just needed a better finish. (2726 views)
 Tasted by tanglenet on 7/19/2010: Opened not decanted. Similar note to last bottle with clarity at the edge. Floral and strong spice notes on the nose and palate. After about 15 minutes the alcohol started to become noticeable and I thought it was shot as the finish was so dry, but after about 30 minutes, it settled down and smoothed out to be a great drinker. Lots of citrus and soft summer fruit notes. Holding up well. Good to Very Good. Served with pork sugo pappardelle at Wood Tavern, Oakland. (2649 views)
 Tasted by jeff nowak on 6/9/2010: unlike my other 97s which i purchased @ jensen's in palm desert, this bottle was clearly in poor condition, and undrinkable. (1704 views)
 Tasted by kstoddard on 6/9/2010 flawed bottle: Jeff Nowak's Tasting Of Wines That Really Blow Part II: This Time It's Personal: Deep garnet color. Earthy cherry nose. Heavily oxidized. Undrinkable. (2611 views)
 Tasted by gutt22 on 2/19/2010: Shocking that this is 14.9% alcohol. For the most part, it doesn't seem like it. Still a youthful wine, with a vigorous red cherry color. On the nose, black and red cherry fruit, along with baking spice and minerals. In the mouth, you can sense the ripeness in the palate presence. It is lush and round, with an almost jammy quality to the fruit. The complexity is still quite primary, and the acidity gives a nice punch of refreshment and keeps the wine from being flabby. On the finish, however, the flavors fade a bit too quickly and a flabby note comes in a bit from the alcohol. B+ (1932 views)
 Tasted by Rob MacKay on 9/6/2009 & rated 94 points: Popped and poured from magnum. This was absolutely delicious, still holding lots of bright fruit with some earth tones. Alcohol (14.9%) is very nicely managed and the wine itself is quite well balanced. Tannins are well resolved. It was hard to really find any flaws in this wine. Truly a treat of a Pinot Noir and makes me wish I could hold my similar bottles long enough to enjoy them at this age. (1871 views)
 Tasted by jhannah27 on 9/6/2009 & rated 94 points: Popped and poured from Magnum. This is the first wine that I have had from Williams Selyem, and, by chance, the first pinot I have had from magnum. At the pop, the 14.9% ABV was a bit forward, and it had a bit of a grape or dark cherry cough syrup flavor to it, but still was quite tasty. As the air really got into it, the alcohol became non-existent and what was left is likely one of the best pinots that I have ever had. Surprisingly vibrant dark berry flavors throughout with a sweet spiciness out of the long finish. It has a smooth mouthfeel, but there is also a fair bit of acid still hanging around. I would be really curious to see if this would have held up as well in a 750, but it was perfect in this bottle, on this day. I really couldn't have asked for more, and since I purchased this at a fundraiser, the fact that it showed so well was just a bonus. (1889 views)
 Tasted by jerhardt on 5/2/2009 & rated 90 points: Still pretty good, although not my favorite bottle of this that I have had. Cloudy, medium bodied, and with pretty ripe fruit. Not going downhill, but no reason to wait. (1785 views)
 Tasted by jeff nowak on 12/6/2008 & rated 93 points: from magnum. red, rich, nicely integrated tannin, yet still youthful. delicious. (1953 views)
 Tasted by jasonh on 9/1/2008 & rated 91 points: Sadly my Williams Selyem stash is dwindling and it was time to say goodbye to my last 97. I opened a little early so I could get a peak at and decide if it could use some air. The color was showing age but still vibrant. My first sniff had me worried as it seemed sherried. With some swirling it sorted out and became compelling. Showing some sherried elements along with a little beef broth but primarily still showing red fruits. On the palate, the wine did very well with the food. Nicely sweet fruit and medium acid. At first the finish was off but later it straightened out although never set itself apart. It is rare that a Burt Williams wine seems long in the tooth to me but I think this wineís best days may be behind it. Still a nice wine. (1856 views)
 Tasted by TampaDan on 3/7/2008 & rated 86 points: Slightly better than the last one, but not that much. Basically all that's left are some muted cherry and cola flavors, with almost no aromatics to speak of. It has declined into a simple, pleasant drink, but this wine used to be so much more than that. It's like saying goodbye to a treasured old friend, a bittersweet parting made no easier by the fact that you knew it had to happen someday. This wine was probably my very first introduction to what great wine was all about, how exciting and interesting it could be. I'm just happy that one of the three bottles I've had recently was close to what it once was. Once again, I'd love another crack at this in magnums, but c'est la vie. Thanks for the memories, and for showing me the way. (2068 views)
 Tasted by rmodak on 2/24/2008 & rated 94 points: The nose explodes with violets and crushed mineral. On the palate, there is deep, dark raspberry along with a hint of sweet tobacco, with no hint of heaviness. Juicy acidity gives the wine a bright quality and the finish lasts 20 seconds. This wine showcases more mineral than herbal notes and seems at peak. This is easily one of the best California Pinots I have had, with its powerful fruit harnessed into a restrained, elegant package. (2142 views)
 Tasted by TampaDan on 2/23/2008 & rated 84 points: Not too much going on in this bottle at all, a great example of bottle variation I suppose. Just some simple muted cherry flavors along with some pretty harsh acidity. This is the first bottle of this wine that I've ever had which seemed tired and over-the-hill. It's enough to make one get deeply philosophical, as in "nothing last forever but the earth and sky" or something equally banal. Several hours after opening, this bottle staged a noble little rally, gaining just a measure of extra depth and interest right at the end. Even so, I think that the final verdict with this wine has to be "drink 'em if ya got 'em", for its best days are in the past. Now comes the time when you wish that you would have been smart enough to buy magnums, although this wine was hard enough to get even in 750s. (2112 views)
 Tasted by TampaDan on 1/26/2008 & rated 92 points: Great to encounter this all-time favorite again, my wine for the New Millennium first consumed on 12/31/99, for the first time in almost eight years. I was a little apprehensive after reading of a Prince of Pinot tasting where the older WS wines supposedly weren't holding up all that well. I recalled a racy, delicious wine with unbelievable fruit and spice. Fortunately, the wine was, once again, dazzling and delightful! Gorgeouos aromatics right as the cork was pulled - notes of cranberry and, yes, olives. The color was the beautiful incadescent ruby-cherry that so characterized the WS wines of old, but would probably be regarded as being "too light to be commercially viable" nowadays. As before, the wine featured a seductive aromatic profile of succulent cherries along with complex notes of many different spices. The first sip was a silky-smooth stream of cherry liqueur followed by, once again, pronounced notes of olive. Intriguing smoky creamy vanilla notes gave way to a palate-coating finish that literally resonated the taste in one's mouth for minutes on end between sips. Though I think the wine is slightly past its lofty peak (my previous score was 94), it remains a remarkable bottle of wine, and well-stored examples should be delightful for 2-3 more years. More proof that great wine doesn't have to be overripe, over-extracted and over-oaked. (2197 views)
 Tasted by jerhardt on 11/27/2007 & rated 93 points: At Quattro. Superb, and a better showing than the last bottle. Bright red fruit and soaring aromatics led to a lush and round, yet still light footed mouthfeel. Faded a bit after an hour or so in the glass, but otherwise not showing its age. Nonetheless, drinking so well now, there is not much reason to wait. (2344 views)
 Tasted by jerhardt on 9/30/2007 & rated 92 points: At Quattro. The slightly protruding cork had me a bit worried about this one, but if it suffered some heat, it was still showing nicely. I am definitely anxious to try a "pristine" bottle.
Side by side with the '97 WS Riverblock. Initially this showed more focused minerality, and some noted hints of green that blew off. Where the Riverblock held steady or declined through the evening, this continued to improve and gain complexity. A great, and young, showing for a 10 year old CA pinot and a testament to the ageability of W-S. (2347 views)
 Tasted by blaine on 8/30/2007: Good, not great. Appearance still youthful. Somewhat muted nose. Nice and smooth on the palate, typical WS profile. Closed down and tightened up a bit on the palate near the end of the bottle. Alcohol was not a problem. (2435 views)
 Tasted by tanglenet on 6/17/2007: Opened not decanted. Some clarity at the edge; served chilled to reduce some of the heat; strong nose of spice with touches of ecualyptus and charcoal on the nose; cedar, menthol with lots of moist and dried fruit on the palate with a zangy,dry finish. At it's peak right now. Good. (2373 views)
 Tasted by jamiekutch on 6/27/2006: Cherry pie. Sweet palate with hints of oak and good tannins. This is sure to age another 5 years. (3072 views)
 Tasted by Burgundy Al on 5/30/2006 & rated 91 points: Pre-1998 US Pinot Tasting (My home - Chicago IL): Tasted blind. Ripe and lush red and black cherry aromas, somewhat more subdued and balanced on palate. Good length, spice-driven finish. At its peak. (992 views)
 Tasted by Anonymous on 5/27/2006: A bit disappointing. Not enough fruit to stand up to the alcohol. Drink up. (2837 views)
 Only displaying the 25 most recent notes - click to see all notes for this wine...

Professional 'Channels'
By Stephen Tanzer
Vinous, May/June 1999, IWC Issue #84
(Williams-Selyem Winery Pinot Noir Olivet Lane Vineyard Russian River Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
NOTE: Scores and reviews are the property of Vinous. (manage subscription channels)

CellarTracker Wiki Articles (login to edit | view all articles)

Williams Selyem

Williams Selyem website

Pinot Noir

Varietal character (Appellation America) | Varietal article (Wikipedia)
Pinot Noir is the Noble red grape of Burgundy, capable of ripening in a cooler climate, which Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot will not reliably do. It is unpredictable and difficult both to grow and to vinify, but results in some of the finest reds in the world. It is believed to have been selected from wild vines two thousand years ago. It is also used in the production of champagne. In fact, more Pinot Noir goes into Champagne than is used in all of the Cote d'Or! It is also grown in Alsace, Germany, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Croatia, Serbia, Italy, Austria, and so forth, with varying degrees of success.


WineAmerica (National Association of American Wineries) | Free the Grapes!


California Wines (Wine Institute of California)

California is one of the most diverse wine regions in the world, with almost 100 grape varieties grown in over 100 viticultural areas, including dozens of ≠different microclimates and soil types, as well as a very individualistic set of ≠winemakers, many with international experience, which adds to and deepens that diversity.

Sonoma County

Sonoma County Vintners

Russian River Valley

Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association | Wikipedia

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