I have been a HUGE fan of winemaking maverick Van Williamson for quite some time, starting with his tenure at the Edmeades helm. In addition to his wildly rustic, interesting Zin beasts he produced starting with the 1994 vintage, Van also made a string of fabulous, wild yeast fermented, intriguing, well textured Chardonnay (1994 thru 2000); masculine, provocative Pinot Noir (1994 thru 2000), which REALLY got better with some bottle age; hedonistic, black, murky, eccentric Petite Sirah, which were remarkably light on their feet & well textured; AND a few vintages of terrific, thought provoking Syrah. As I have said in the past, it is so hard to find a winemaker who masterfully crafts one grape variety well, much less 4, as in this case. Yes, the wines were NOT your normal wines, BUT they each had VERY interesting character & wonderful balance!
I was deeply saddened to hear he was let go at Edmeades by the owner Kendall Jackson. Still, I believe it will be better for Van in the long term as he creates his new chapter in life. Wine wise, it starts with his new label Witching Stick.
With the 2010 vintage, Van produced & launched his first wine–a Zinfandel from the Fashauer Vineyard. In the past at Edmeades, his single vineyard Zinfandels (Ciapusci, Zeni, Alden, Piffero to name a few) were big, hearty, wild & wooly, beasty wines–full of flavor & character with deceivingly high alcohol levels. I was always fascinated at how surprisingly well textured & delicious they all were.
The 2010 Witching Stick Zinfandel is on the other end of the spectrum, weighing in at only 12.8 degrees alcohol (naturally). This is what mother nature handed to him in this vintage, and at the same time I think Van learned greatly from this experience.
The Fashauer Vineyard is 800 to 1200 feet in elevation at the cooler, northern end of the Anderson Valley. Insiders who I have spoken to, marvel at how they are able to even ripen Zin there. This results in a VERY different profile of Zin then most are used to.
While this makes for a higher toned, tarter fruited RED wine, it is really intriguing fruit to make a rose with. To further bolster the RED Zin, Van saigneed the wine after only 8 hours, wild yeast fermented it & aged in the wine in neutral oak for a remarkable 18 months.
This “rosato” is a full flavored, masculine PINK wine, to the point it is actually stylistically more like a red wine. I would expect no less from Van Williamson. Still, the wine is amazingly NOT heady, bitter or alcoholic…..just full flavored……with a crisp, refreshing, palate cleansing finish. I don’t recall having a wine like this before, which is why I find it so fascinating. PLUS, in a warm climate like Hawaii’s, I would much prefer having a wine like this with long cooked meat dishes rather than a hearty, robust red wine. It is the same thought in my mind as having a dollop of cranberry with roast turkey & the fixings at Thanksgiving.
Van recommends you have this wine at cellar temperature….60 to 65 degrees. I suggest you serve it in a red wine bowl, so you can better swish it around & let it open up. Bravo, Van!!!!!!