Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

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Blake Brown
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Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#1 Post by Blake Brown » March 1st, 2020, 12:12 pm

Burt Williams and his friend and partner, Ed Selyem, first started making wine as a team in Burt`s garage in 1979 {although Burt had been making wine in his home since 1964} then got bonded in 1981 under the name of Hacienda Del Rio, the name of Burt`s home in Forestville, CA. Due to a conflict of name issue, the name was changed to Williams-Selyem in 1984. Burt not only made the wines, but designed the labels as well.

Until Ed`s health led to them selling in March of 1998, they made some of the best ever new world Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Chardonnay that still today is drinking beautifully and highly sought.

Sadly, dear friend Burt passed in December, 2019.

Soon after, a few post humous tribute dinners for him were announced around the country. To honor him, I took one of his wines to every wine event I attended over the next few weeks and contributed 6 bottles to an evening out with the guys.

The largest and closest tribute dinner for us was orchestrated by George Chadwick in the South San Francisco Bay area and eventually set up to be held on Wednesday, February 26 at an Italian restaurant, Divino Ristorante, in the city of Belmont, CA. George not only initiated this event, but he very generously contributed many of Burt`s wines from his cellar along with wines from daughter, Margi {Brogan Cellars} and deceased son, Fred {Seven Lions].

Most of those who attended are part of a local wine group that meets frequently and are members of the WineBeserkers board that I frequent almost daily. I was familiar with most of the names, but never had met any of them, so this was extra special for me to place names with faces and perceived on-line personalities. Many additional wines were contributed by them.

Burt`s daughter, Katie, joined Roelanda and I in making the journey and we brought some wines to share and celebrate the man. His other daughter, Margi, was unable to attend but was well represented by some of her wonderful wines. It was a fabulous evening with many new friendships cultivated and a whole lot of love for the wines Burt made and/or influenced.

The restaurant positioned the 16 of us in a private side dining room and assigned us a very conscientious server who was super thrilled to be doing this. He was wine passionate, very curious about the wines we were lining up and after watching many a bottle being opened, Fabio will soon be the proud owner of a Durand.

We started off the evening with champagne, of course:

2006 LOUIS ROEDERER CRISTAL BRUT in magnum- I went to the cellar to obtain an 09` after searching for its location on Cellar Tracker and found it resting alongside others, all wrapped in yellow cellophane. I did not question the vintage even after removing the cellophane and passing it around claiming it was the 09` until it was pointed out to be in fact, the 06`; not a problem, it was fabulous; it was rich and full bodied with generous citrus, stone fruit, apple and pear flavors accented with a touch of brioche and spice; it had a lightly creamy texture leaving a palate coating film that lasted well into the next bubbly which did not need enhancement; 55% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay.

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2008 MOET & CHANDON DOM PERIGNON- with a glass prepared with a splash of Cristal, what else but some Dom to top it off; this was splendid having bright acidity and lots of lightly toasted lemon and lime notes with a spicy element coming in to seal the deal; it had a lovely mousse, layered depth and bright promises for a brilliant future.

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2008 PIERRE GIMONNET OENOPHILE EXTRA BRUT NON DOSE BLANC de BLANC 1er cru- I`d last had this in December of 2017 and when reviewing my notes for this bottle, it turns out to be a very different wine; this one was surprisingly majorly toasted from the nose through the tail with similar stone fruit notes, especially honeyed peach, but also baked apple; similar to before, it had a pleasurable creamy, thick mousse; this is produced from the same blend as the 08` Gimonnet Fleuron, the only difference is that it does not contain any additional sugar.

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2010 BIGGIO HAMINA CELLARS AMITY VINEYARD RIESLING EOLA-AMITY HILLS- I failed to get the vintage, depending upon the photos and then not finding it listed on the front label; nonetheless, this was petrol and mineral laden Oregon Riesling with mellow citrus notes in the background.

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1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM ALLEN VINEYARD CHARDONNAY RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY- the amber gold color and musty aroma strongly suggested this was oxidized and it was; however, there were redeeming qualities from that point on with pleasant honeyed Asian pear, lemon and golden delicious apple notes being delivered in a super smooth texture to the back end where it finished with a hit of butterscotch; this is the most mature 97` Allen Chard I’ve had and it still offered enough joy to merit a re-taste and finish off the original pour.

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We start off the reds with an amazing flight of 2 WS Summa Pinots:

1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM SUMMA VINEYARD SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR in magnum- a few weeks back, Katie and I toured the cellar in Burt`s Santa Barbara home to check out the stash and determine the best bring for this occasion and here it is; arguably the best Burt made wine I`ve ever had, this was a perfect replication of the mag he opened 10 years ago when we went to a house party at one of his friends in Healdsburg; it had a similar grainy and cinnamon reddish color, perhaps a bit darker, the same cinnamon and spice accented red raspberry and strawberry fruit carried all the way through while maintaining perfect balance; it hit all of the sensory receptors with grace and charm and left an impression of excellence everyone recognized; WOTN.

Burt kept meticulous notes and for this wine he showed that at harvest the grapes had the following readings: 24.5º Brix, pH 3.09 and TA 0.99. The wine at bottling, he never acidified, showed the following: 13.9% alc., pH 3.29 and TA 0.964. No stem inclusion; the wine spent 16 months in 100% new Francois Frères French oak. The price upon release was $125 per 750 ml and total production was 52 cases.

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2002 BROGAN CELLARS SUMMA VINEYARD SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- Margi made some very fine wine over many years and this is one of her best IMHO; matched up against the 95` WS in magnum, it held its own and shined ever so brightly; showing youthful vibrance along with lots of power and finesse, it gracefully worked its way from the front to the back end of the palate; surprisingly, the color was a lighter red than the 95`, but that’s where we lose “lighter”; the fresh red fruit profile was so expressive from the aromatics on showcasing red cherry/ berry notes enhanced by a touch of nicely integrated oak, it crescendoed upward and had a refreshing, climatic finish; I loved it. From old vines, it had 14.0% abv.

As was questioned during the evening, Brogan Cellars was named after Margaret's ("Margi's") paternal grandmother.

A bit about Summa Vineyard: it was first planted in 1979 by Steve Young on a ridge top site on Taylor Lane west of the town of Occidental miles inland from the Pacific coastline on the true Sonoma Coast. The original clones of Pinot Noir planted have been a source of conjecture through the years, as the Zellers either do not know or decline to disclose the plant material origins. Burt, who crafted Summa Vineyard Pinot Noirs from the 88` to 97`, suspected the old vines were original Swan clone (selection).

In 98`, an additional 3 acres of Pinot Noir were added on resistant rootstock from old vine cuttings and these plantings are referred to as young vines as noted on the labels. In 2000, more Pinot Noir vines (again old vine cuttings) were interplanted among the old vines. In 2005 and 2009, an additional 1.5 acres of Pinot Noir was established (also old vine cuttings), known as the Driveway Block, located on Zeller’s current residence property and now leased back to Thomas Rivers Brown, who bought the 1979-2000 Summa Vineyard plantings in September 2010.

The 91` WS Summa Pinot Noir was offered to the mailing list at $100 a bottle, the first California Pinot Noir to sell at this price. Burt claimed that if people wouldn’t buy it, he and Ed would take it all home and drink it. Burt joking claimed about the wine’s price, “C-note or c-none.” It sold out in 3 days. This wine, along with the 95` WiS Summa Pinot Noir, were among my personal favorites of all of the wines that he produced over his years of WS.

They released a Summa Pinot Noir in 88`, 91`, 93` {plus a combined Summa Vineyard- Coastlands Vineyard bottling was also produced in 93`} 95` and 97`. In 88`-90` and 93`-95`, declassified lots of Summa Vineyard grapes were sometimes a component of the WS Sonoma Coast bottling. The 95` Summa Pinot Noir sold for $125, and sold out again within days. I was fortunate to get some and although all are gone, they remain in the top 10 echelon of my all-time favorite wines.

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And now we move on to a flight of 3 WS Allen Pinots:

1994 WILLIAMS SELYEM ALLEN VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- this was the mildest expressed 94` Allen I`ve ever had regarding its color, aroma, taste, body and length and yet there was enough to provide immense pleasure; this had a touch of its signature cinnamon/ spice which provided an nice accent to the dried raspberry and red cherry fruit; being so light in body and weight, these aspects seemed to contribute more to an aura of elegance which has been typical with all past bottles.

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Alan pouring the 94` Allen with beaker measure
1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM ALLEN VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- this was much more expressive than the 94` and still less than expected from past exposures; the color was a medium red, it had more body and weight and a bigger taste profile that included strawberry, red cherry and raspberry along with some cinnamon and spice, but still not up to past levels; there was some depth and certainly enough richness to take this to a fine level of appreciation.

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Sean pouring the 95` Allen
1996 WILLIAMS SELYEM ALLEN VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- it was very light in color although darker than the 94`; the nose had an unexpected steely character; the usual cinnamon and spice components were absent and the fruit profile was more of mature blackberry and black cherry. The one who brought it stated it was heat damaged which is so unfortunate as this release has been nothing short of spectacular.


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Mark pouring the 96` Allen
Next up, 2 Brogan Cellars Pinots from Burt`s Morning Dew Ranch:

2005 BROGAN CELLARS MY FATHER`S VINEYARD ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR- 13% abv; aged in 50% new French oak barrels for 15 months; the fruit was sourced from Burt`s Morning Dew Ranch; this bottle was superlative as first witnessed in the aromatics which were laden with nice, spicy fresh fruit including blueberry that showed up all the way through; additionally, some black raspberry and black cherry joined in to make this a real taste treat; the rich, dark purple color supported the youthfulness this still possesses.

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2006 BROGAN CELLARS MORNING DEW RANCH ANDERSON VALLEY PINOT NOIR in magnum- 14.6% abv; aged 11 months in 50% new French oak barrels; this was an impressive bottle as the wine generously gave up loads of ripe, fresh fruit and exhibited a young, vibrant energy that supports a long, healthy life span; this was full bodied, full throttle and yet had so much elegance and charm; the super smooth texture provided just the right mouthfeel to carry all of the goodness to the back end where it just hung out and refused to let up. Fabulous wine.

A bit about MDR:
It is comprised of a 40-acre ranch with 13 acres planted to Pinot Noir (Pommard, Mariafeld (23), 115, 777, "828," a Rochioli selection and a DRC suitcase selection), located in the cool deep end of the Anderson Valley. Planted between 1999 and 2001, the vineyard was owned and farmed by Burt Williams of Williams Selyem fame until 2016 when it was sold to Castello di Amorosa in Napa Valley.


Next comes a flight of super stars, all from the esteemed Rochioli Vineyard. Burt talked to me about Pinot Noir having 3 basic fruit profiles: the lightest being red raspberry and strawberry; then red cherry/ berry; and finally, black cherry/ berry. Rochioli typically has that last category covered in spades.

1993 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- I have never had a cork fall into a bottle until last week when I pulled a 69` Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva and discovered the cork was indeed floating in the bottle; so imagine my surprise when it was announced the cork for this bottle fell into the bottle which also suggested this may be a toss as was the Muga, but underlying the initial hit of oxidation came some quite acceptable notes of mature black cherry, blackberry fruit with a hit of spice; it had some weight and enough pizzaz to actually be drinkable.

1994 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- this was magnificent and within the expected mold of Rochioli excellence; yes, black cherry and blackberry dominated the fruit profile, but the layered depth and complexity and amazing mouthfeel pulled it all together; its hallmark may have been its impeccable balance; this was an exquisite wine.

1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- dominated by VA

1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM ROCHIOLI VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- sadly corked

Thank you George for these very generous offerings. Your heart was in the right place even though provenance on the part of others may not have been.

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Next up, 3 hedonistically sinful Zins:

1992 WILLIAMS SELYEM RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY ZINFANDEL- 15.6% abv; once Burt was informed in 91` he would only receive 2 more years of fruit from the Leno Martinelli Jackass Hill Vineyard, he removed the vineyard reference off the label and called it RRV; fortunately, I`ve had the pleasure of drinking quite a few of this gem especially in the past few years as Burt gave me a case and I already had a few bottles; it is still so viable and beautifully balanced with such surprising ease on the palate for a Zinfandel with relatively high alcohol; the fruit profile consists of blueberry, cherry and plum with a touch of cola/ sassafras, pepper and baking spices with an emphasis on the wondrous ripe and fresh blueberry. Love it.

1992 RAVENSWOOD OLD HILL VINEYARD SONOMA VALLEY ZINFANDEL in magnum- it was a treat for me to re-visit this producer and especially pay homage to winemaker Joel Peterson, who I was very fond of in the 80s and 90s and have sort of lost track of since and then to get a wine that comes from their oldest vineyard planted around 1890 made it even more special; what was in the bottle completed the perfect moment as this was really good; fresh blueberry again dominated the fruit profile, but fresh and ripe blackberry joined in while accents of talc and spice enhanced the taste to the max. Great bring.

1999 SEVEN LIONS WINERY MARTINELLI & DUCKHORN VINEYARD RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY ZINFANDEL- from Burt`s son Fred, this is so good and has that pepper character I so love in Zins plus the blueberry fruit and a whole lot more in this full bodied, nicely tamed wine; black currant and black raspberry also joined the fun and it danced all the way to the back end with skip and a hop putting a smile on may face.

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The pecking order took an abrupt u-turn as we reverted back to 4 Pinots:

1986 WILLIAMS SELYEM SONOMA COUNTY PINOT NOIR- I bought 3 bottles last year and opened one a few months ago and it was fantastic especially considering this was their “entry level” wine; it was made from an assortment of quality fruit from vineyards yet to be designated; this bottle was not nearly as good, but it did have enough stuff to provide some enjoyment; it was certainly showing its age with mature dried fruit notes, but had an underlying, unexpected metallic taste that distracted from the positive notes.

1995 WILLIAMS SELYEM HIRSCH VINEYARD SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- when deciding which wines to bring to fill in a few blanks, this was my first choice and it did more than just serve as fill in; the bottle fill was next to the cork as was Burt`s intention for all of his wines; it was magnificent starting with the strong invitation to come on in and explore starting with the aromas of spicy red fruit and then the follow up of savory spiced red berry/ cherry fruit with additional accents of cola and clove; it was medium to full bodied, had a soft, lush, velvety mouthfeel and held on for a long, sustained finish. If not for the 95` WS Summa, this is my WOTN.

The vineyard became world-renowned when Burt, Ted Lemon of Littorai, and Steve Kistler of Kistler showed up one day in the early 1990s, chose their blocks, and started making exceedingly good and age worthy vineyard-designate Pinot Noir from it.

The vineyards, which lie adjacent to the great San Andreas Fault, is actually a single vineyard comprised of more than 60 distinct farming blocks. These blocks cover an area of 72 acres, resulting in a degree of fragmentation that is unmatched even by the famously subdivided vineyards of the Côte de Nuits. These farming blocks were determined based on soil, exposure and topography, all of which are fearsomely diverse due to the site’s proximity to the San Andreas. Each block was individually developed and is now farmed, harvested and vinified separately.

The Old Vineyard was planted in 1980 to 1 acre of a massale selection of Pommard and Wädenswil Pinot Noir and 2 acres of Riesling. In 1988 the Riesling was budded over to the Mount Eden selection of Pinot Noir. From 1990 to 1994, 32 acres were planted to these clones. In 1995 the 114, Swan, and 777 clones were planted on 9 more acres. At Burt`s suggestion, 2 1/2 acres of Chardonnay were planted in field 10 (a 40% slope) in 1994.

By 2000 they realized that much could be improved upon in the design and planting of the vineyards in order to produce better and more fruit on a consistent basis. 25 acres of closely spaced vines were planted in 2002 and 2003.  By this time they had reached the limits of useful feedback about farming from the wineries buying their fruit. This lead to the decision to build their own winery on site.
In 2011, they began the process of converting the vineyards to biodynamic viticulture. By 2014, all 72 acres of vines as well as their gardens and orchards were fully under biodynamic practice. 

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2000 SEVEN LIONS WINERY BUTCH & DAVID`S KNOLL WES CAMERON VINEYARDS RUSSIAN RIVER VALLEY PINOT NOIR- I loved this wine for its beautiful balance, wondrous spicy red raspberry fruit and soft and smooth texture; it’s one of my fav profiles for Pinot Noir and this nailed it perfectly.

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1997 WILLIAMS SELYEM SONOMA COAST PINOT NOIR- made from 70% Coastlands and 30% Summa; there was something off in this wine evidenced by the metallic, gun powder aromas that fortunately moved aside when tasted in favor of a mild dusting of cinnamon and spice to the red cherry/ berry fruit; it failed to represent the magnificence of previous bottles, but there was a hint of such.

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OK, we have 3 wines to go and fortunately, none are dessert wines which invariably show up at all 3 of my local wine groups events in similar situations where we’ve easily had enough and don’t need high alcohol, heavily sugared, headache inducing wines- thanks George for your request to avoid:

1991 SANTA CRUZ MOUNTIAN VINEYARD ESTATE PINOT NOIR- there was a funk in the nose with a weird taste including a metallic note that suggested this bottle was off.

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1996 RAVENSWOOD OLD HILL VINEYARD SONOMA VALLEY ZINFANDEL- here’s a wine I had in my cellar at one time and I was so looking forward to re-visiting it only to discover this bottle was way different from what I recall having a real musty, mushroom like character in the nose and taste and it jaded the plum and blackberry fruit.

1995 DAVID BRUCE CHALONE VINEYARD PINOT NOIR CHALONE AVA- showing a grainy red color, it was very viable and offered
some nice black cherry/ very fruit with underlying herbal notes; it had good feel and certainly is ready to drink now; overall, it was very pleasant.

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When I look over my notes, I’m thinking some palate fatigue set in about the last 5 wines or so and that I was stretching to keep it together to assess anything other than re-filling my water glass.

This was an exceptional night which beautifully achieved the intent to pay tribute to an icon who set a high standard in making great wines over the test of time.

It was particular special for Roelanda and I to meet so many wonderful people, many who I have known only in name and through their posts in WineBerserker forums. We look forward to future times with any and all and extend an open invitation to visit us.

At least one final thought:
One knows when they have had a successful night when it requires 2 tables to be placed side by side to line up all of the bottles consumed on that night.

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Opps! Just had another thought. While writing up these notes, I experienced my mouth watering and theorized that could only be satiated by opening up something spicy and cinnamon laden and raspberry flavored which translated into an 02` WS Allen and it did indeed satisfy the withdrawal symptoms.

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Cheers,
Blake
Last edited by Blake Brown on March 3rd, 2020, 7:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#2 Post by Joshua Kates » March 1st, 2020, 12:51 pm

Thanks for the notes, Blake, very informative and up-close--gives a sense of what it was like to attend the event. Seems like just a great time and a worthy tribute.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#3 Post by George Chadwick » March 1st, 2020, 2:15 pm

Thank you Blake! I was indeed unfortunate in the provenance of the Allens and Rochiolis I brought, unlike last year's dinner with many of the same wines, but we are very fortunate that the wines you and Katie brought saved the day.

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#4 Post by Blake Brown » March 1st, 2020, 3:35 pm

Joshua Kates wrote:
March 1st, 2020, 12:51 pm
Thanks for the notes, Blake, very informative and up-close--gives a sense of what it was like to attend the event. Seems like just a great time and a worthy tribute.
You got it on both accounts Joshua. We did it up righteously.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#5 Post by Blake Brown » March 1st, 2020, 3:43 pm

George Chadwick wrote:
March 1st, 2020, 2:15 pm
Thank you Blake! I was indeed unfortunate in the provenance of the Allens and Rochiolis I brought, unlike last year's dinner with many of the same wines, but we are very fortunate that the wines you and Katie brought saved the day.
Like I stated George, you had your heart in the right place, and you did contribute some beauties as well as set it up for a whole lot of folks to enjoy a stellar evening. BTW, is that the 95` Hirsch you have in your hands?
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#6 Post by George Chadwick » March 1st, 2020, 8:08 pm

Probably, that wine was thrilling.

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#7 Post by Mike Grammer » March 1st, 2020, 8:39 pm

I was about to say, after reading the notes, to coin your turn of phrase Blake---a righteous evening! Fantastic notes as always, enjoyed vicariously!

All best

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#8 Post by adam caldwell » March 2nd, 2020, 1:36 am

Awesome, well done.

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#9 Post by Blake Brown » March 2nd, 2020, 7:36 am

Mike Grammer wrote:
March 1st, 2020, 8:39 pm
I was about to say, after reading the notes, to coin your turn of phrase Blake---a righteous evening! Fantastic notes as always, enjoyed vicariously!

All best

Mike
You got me Mike. I could have said "it was a stellar evening" and it was, that and righteous.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#10 Post by Kurt B e i t l e r » March 2nd, 2020, 2:41 pm

Congrats- you guys shared a truly unique and wonderful evening! Excellent notes, Blake—I very much enjoyed reading them.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#11 Post by Blake Brown » March 2nd, 2020, 4:32 pm

Kurt B e i t l e r wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 2:41 pm
Congrats- you guys shared a truly unique and wonderful evening! Excellent notes, Blake—I very much enjoyed reading them.
Thanks Kurt. I'm happy you found the notes to your liking. I wrote them so folks who were not in attendance could get an idea as to how spectacular and rare this event was including the current crew at Williams Selyem.

I missed some of the photos and still am hopeful to receive some from Katie and others to add in.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#12 Post by Todd Hamina » March 2nd, 2020, 5:53 pm

Blake, that's a 2010 Riesling. Thanks for including my wine in such a stellar line up.
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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#13 Post by Blake Brown » March 2nd, 2020, 6:28 pm

Todd Hamina wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 5:53 pm
Blake, that's a 2010 Riesling. Thanks for including my wine in such a stellar line up.
Thanks Todd for filling in the vintage. it must have been on the back label and I know better than to just look at/ photo the front label only.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#14 Post by AndyK » March 2nd, 2020, 6:32 pm

Fantastic write-up, Blake! The 95 Summa was my all-time favorite CA Pinot, what a privilege to taste it with such great company!

I didn't take nearly as nice notes as you and only on a subset of the wines, but here's what I thought:


BURT WILLIAMS DINNER - Divino (2/26/2020)
  • 1997 Williams Selyem Chardonnay Allen Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Slight oxidation, popcorn, sage, and apples on the nose. Oily texture with flavors of honey, apples, citrus, and a bit more oxidation on the palate. This is fully mature, but tasting great despite the oxidative notes. I wouldn't wait any longer, though. (92 pts.)
  • 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    From magnum. Wow, this was amazing! Very dark in color (especially in comparison to the Allens and Rochiolis from similar vintages). Fresh and complex nose of cherries and cinnamon with lots of fruit left. The balance on the palate is outstanding. Flavors of spices, dark cherries and a hint of forest notes dominate. Long finish. What a treat, this is probably the best CA Pinot I've ever had. (97 pts.)
  • 1994 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Nice, yet somewhat light nose of spices, cherries, and a hint of leather. Lovely acidity on the palate with baking spices and strawberries. Very nice finish, in a great spot right now. (93 pts.)
  • 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    A bit darker compared to the 94 and 06 with notes of cherries, red berries, and underwood on the nose. Good acidity and structure with flavors of wild strawberries on the palate. Long finish. Excellent wine! (94 pts.)
  • 1996 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Allen Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    The nose had a little heat, red berries, and blood orange notes. Slightly bitter orange notes with red berries, stems, and a little green flavors on the palate. Good finish. This may not have been the best bottle and clearly behind the 94 and 95 in this flight.
  • 1994 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Gorgeous, complex, nose of red fruits, raspberries, and spices. Great balance and very nice acidity on the palate along with flavors of red berries, lots of fruit, blood orange, and some noticeable tannins adding structure. Long finish. Awesome wine! This still tastes quite young, but in a perfect place to drink. (95 pts.)
  • 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    This was an off bottle with significant VA, but nice underlying fruit. Palate was much better than the nose.
  • 1992 Williams Selyem Zinfandel Russian River Valley - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
    Plums, red fruit, cinnamon, Christmas spices, and leather on the nose. Interesting mix of red/dark fruit and more plums on the palate with good finish. Quite interesting and drinking very well for its age! (92 pts.)
  • 1986 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Sonoma County - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Quite a bit of funk on the nose, followed by underwood and a bit of fruit. This is clearly mature and a bit past its prime, but still very nice. Palate was good with red fruit, mushrooms, and forest floor notes. Good finish. (91 pts.)
  • 1995 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Hirsch Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Beautiful nose of berries, red cherries, and a hint of leather. Fully integrated tannins with red berries, cherries, and blood orange flavors on the palate. Good acidity and long finish. What a beautiful wine. May have scored it higher if served a bit earlier in the evening :) (94 pts.)
  • 1991 Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyards Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Very interesting wine. Slightly funky on the nose at first with berries, tobacco, and a bit of brett. Palate has flavors of Christmas spices and orange peel with fresh acidity and good structure. Nice finish. (92 pts.)

PS: The foot note in the photos has Sean and Mark swapped ;)
k0berl

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#15 Post by Wes Barton » March 2nd, 2020, 6:45 pm

Blake Brown wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 6:28 pm
Todd Hamina wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 5:53 pm
Blake, that's a 2010 Riesling. Thanks for including my wine in such a stellar line up.
Thanks Todd for filling in the vintage. it must have been on the back label and I know better than to just look at/ photo the front label only.
*Sean Smith contributed that.

We also had a corked [cry.gif] [cry.gif] [cry.gif] '98 Mount Eden Chard [cry.gif] [cry.gif] [cry.gif]
and an '11 Arnot-Roberts Chard Santa Cruz Mountains, which was good, but Alan commented was picked too early. I agreed. Not sure if they had a choice, due to vintage issues, but it would've been better with more flavor development.
ITB - Useless lackey

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#16 Post by Blake Brown » March 2nd, 2020, 6:47 pm

Love your notes Andy. And thanks for the alert about the photo swap- now corrected. You did not review your 08` Dom, but it was fantastic and thanks for the bring. With Cristal and DP the first 2 up, we got off to a great start.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#17 Post by Blake Brown » March 2nd, 2020, 6:51 pm

Wes Barton wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 6:45 pm
Blake Brown wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 6:28 pm
Todd Hamina wrote:
March 2nd, 2020, 5:53 pm
Blake, that's a 2010 Riesling. Thanks for including my wine in such a stellar line up.
Thanks Todd for filling in the vintage. it must have been on the back label and I know better than to just look at/ photo the front label only.
*Sean Smith contributed that.

We also had a corked [cry.gif] [cry.gif] [cry.gif] '98 Mount Eden Chard [cry.gif] [cry.gif] [cry.gif]
and an '11 Arnot-Roberts Chard Santa Cruz Mountains, which was good, but Alan commented was picked too early. I agreed. Not sure if they had a choice, due to vintage issues, but it would've been better with more flavor development.
Hi Wes,
Glad you chimed in here and especially re 2 wines I did not see, but I was losing it at the end and it's just as well especially for the corked bottle. We almost had too much fun.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#18 Post by Mel Knox » March 5th, 2020, 5:57 pm

Burt is on his way to being the most mourned man in the history of the free world.
ITB

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Re: Notes from Burt Williams tribute dinner, SF Peninsula Divino Restaurant, Feb 26, 2020

#19 Post by Blake Brown » March 6th, 2020, 11:55 am

Mel Knox wrote:
March 5th, 2020, 5:57 pm
Burt is on his way to being the most mourned man in the history of the free world.
Sad but true and rightfully deserved. Our recent 95` Summa in mag provided the ultimate way to celebrate his life and legacy.
"In victory you deserve Champagne. In defeat, you need it".
Napolean Bonaparte

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!” – Winston Churchill

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