However, one thing that doesn't fit with the wines produced
here at all is the winery that has recently been built. In the fairly pastoral
Sonoma Valley, which tries to be the counterpoint to the grander sister, Napa, it
looks a bit out of place. The imposing building just looks a little bizarre,
and when one steps into it, it all feels empty and shallow, unlike the
palaces that house the cab-producers in Napa.
One ought to mention this, as the wines themselves are pretty much the opposite of loud. They are easily some of the most ‘Burgundian' to come from this part of the world if that is a helpful adjective at all. What that essentially translates to is that the wines that are produced here are less sweet, less big and less compelling to the taster who looks for impressive wines. Whilst the top cuvees are admirable for the aromatics, purity and character, some of the wines produced at Williams Selyem aren't quite on par with those coming from other Sonoma producers of equal standing.
This is not to say that one ought not to try Williams Selyem
wines, after all there are few producers in the state of California who manage
to produce such filigrane and fine pinot. That has its merits, for multiple reasons. One of them would be the fact that the wines of Williams Selyem would be a good
introduction to people who are not used to drinking Californian pinot.
Before you start hitting the big guns, start with something more like the
herbal and less concentrated wines from Burgundy, albeit on steroids. After that, you can get into the more intense things that come from neighbouring estates.
Williams Selyem is a winery that is difficult to understand. On the one hand one has these very pure and at times compelling wines, whilst the place in which they are produced is about as different stylistically speaking as it could be. Perhaps that is what makes them so interesting?