TN: 1998 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard

  • 1998 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir Rochioli Riverblock Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (2/23/2020)
    A touch of animale funk to the nose along with pine needles. menthol and sweet berry fruits. The palate is sweet, lush and textural, with good volume and freshness and relaxed structural elements. Drinking very nicely.

Posted from CellarTracker

Jeremy, the nose description is a very atypical profile for Rochioli Riverblock prior to 98 and I have to think something happened in the barrel aging and handling, bottling process to produce the funk, pine and menthol notes. This was the first year of the sale which was in March of 98 and the new winemaker for WS finished the wines Burt initiated after the sale.

I’ve had many 97s and all were spectacular and included a lot of the additional comments you wrote up from the sweet berry fruits on. And, yes, there was a big difference in the harvests with 98 being a very rough and uneven vintage. However, I’ve experienced other differences with many of the VDs from 98` on and have to think they were due more to a stylistic and handling difference as well as vineyard management than anything else.

e.g. we had a 2010 WS Allen Pinot last night and it was really good, but did not have any of the spicy, cinnamon red raspberry that was so typical of those from 97` and before. Even the color was a darker red purple as opposed to its hallmark cinnamon red color of yesteryear.


Thanks for the information Blake.

I haven’t had many of these wines over the years, but always enjoyed them.

Best Regards

Thank you for the tasting notes.
Its amazing that 1998 is drinking this well. I would have thought it would have been past its prime. In the past year I have opened many Cali Pinots. They were all purchased from the winery and stored in temp and humidity controlled off site storage facility. The pinots from 2008 and 2009. About 70% are very good, but 30% were ruined and I assume over the hill? I poured them down the sink. Some of these were Dehliger and KB pinots.

Jeremy, we had the last half of the 10` Allen last night and it morphed into another realm of excellence and although still not in the mold of the Allen Vineyard Pinots from Burt, it was extraordinary. It revealed a huge streak of spice to compliment the marvelous blackberry, black cherry fruit which is so atypical for Allen and most of the Burt made Pinots in that they tended to be more in the red raspberry, strawberry and red cherry fruit category.

Should you ever make it to the Santa Barbara area, we shall provide you with some first hand exposure to what I am referencing.

As an aside, we are attending a dinner tomorrow night that is to pay tribute to Burt and includes many of his wines from an 86 Pinot to some 97s, about 14 in all. There will be some fine wines made by his son and daughter and a few other older Pinots and Zins as well. Notes will be posted.