One of our favorite Californian winemakers is Van Williamson. Over the years we have had a bevy of terrific Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Petite Sirah & Zinfandel he produced while at Edmeades. Each have been some of the very best we have had out of Calfornia for their respective grape variety. They were not fruit forward, flashy or fashionable…..but were instead honest, artisan, handcrafted, often wild & wooly wines which were very personal to him. Furthermore they even got better with bottle age.
We were greatly saddened when the Kendall Jackson group (owners of Edmeades) let him go. For me, it was the end of an era.
We are now happy, however, to report Van Williamson has created his own label with the first wine having just arrived into Hawaii. The project is simply named “Witching Stick” & from what he has told me so far includes a Zinfandel, a 2011 Durell Vineyard designated Chardonnay & a 2011 Cerise Vineyard designated Pinot Noir. A NEW chapter…..and we are super excited.
Here is a note I just received from Van Williamson, winemaker/owner on the newly arrived 2010 Witching Stick Zinfandel which I thought you might find interesting.
Vines Planted: 2000
Vines: Field Blend of Zinfandel, Grenache, Carignane, Petite Sirah, Syrah, Cinsault, from neighboring Dupratt vineyard. Roughly 85 percent Zinfandel.
The vineyard located on Greenwood Ridge 1200 feet above the Anderson Valley sits in an area that use to be known as Haley’s Flat. This vineyard is located in both the Anderson Valley AVA as well as the Mendocino Ridge AVA. Of all the vineyards located in the Mendocino Ridge AVA, none has more influence from the valley. The rim location allows the fog to rise up and give the vineyard a morning cooling affect that does not happen in other areas of the Mendocino Ridge AVA. The dry farmed grapes have the smallest berries I have ever seen on Zinfandel clusters. The unique growing site allows for the fruit to rippen fully at lower sugar levels. The darker ripe flavors are apparent in the aroma but the big surprise is when you taste the acidity and tight structure on the palate. No flab and fat zinfandel flavors but more elegant restrained flavors with a long finish of sweet sour cherries. The other varieties in the blend come through with some age worthy tannin structure as well as a meaty spice rack bouquet. The wine makes you want something to eat, it leaves your mouth juicy wet wanting a bite of cheese, must be lunch time.
The wine was fermented with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria and aged in French oak for 18 months with 50 percent new oak for 6 months of aging time. The fruit was harvested first week of November. Most years the grapes are harvested the last week of October.
For me, this a real departure from the wildly rustic, manly, hedonstic, Zins he used to make. Alot of course has to do with his grape source which is in the cool end of the Valley, 1200 feet up. I love its resulting elegance, high toned fruit & remarkable buoyancy….& how it just keeps opening up with layers of nuance with air time. Yes, it still has the character & artisanal feel of a Van Williamson styled wine, just in a very different genre…..12.8 alcohol, naturally!!!!!
There were only 200 or so cases produced, so don’t miss out & grab some while you can.