The WineSpeed Blog


WILLIAMS SELYEM Pinot Noir 2015 

(Central Coast, CA) $65

One of the things I love most about a great wine is contrapuntal tension—the idea that the wine embodies completely opposite characteristics within the same sensory second. It might be concentrated but light; fruity but spicy; powerful yet elegant; satiny yet crisp. It’s a head trip when a wine does that. Which is why this Williams Selyem is so intriguing. It yin-yangs it’s way over your palate as if on a shopping spree, picking up descriptors as it goes. All you can do is hold on. This Central Coast pinot is theoretically the simplest of the numerous 2015 pinots Williams Selyem has made. I’m now dying to taste the rest. (13.2% abv)

92 points KM

Available at K & L Wines

Nope, It’s Not from Madagascar….

From the vanilla flavor in our yogurt to the vanilla scent of the candles in our living rooms, most of the vanilla in our lives is not truly vanilla and it doesn’t come from pods grown in the tropics. Most “vanilla” is actually vanillin, a compound extracted from oak that tastes reminiscent of vanilla. (Oak contains a lot of vanillin). Wine drinkers, for example, know that chardonnay and many other wines often exhibit vanilla-like flavors. Needless to say, those wines haven’t come anywhere near vanilla beans; they have a vanilla-like flavor because they’re made and/or aged for long periods in vanillin-rich oak barrels.

A. Sancerre

B. Chateauneuf-du-Pape blanc

C. Chablis

D. Albariño


Albariño is the white grape of the denomination Rías Baixas (REE-as BUY-shez) on the Atlantic coast of Galicia in far northwestern Spain. The region, with its beautiful green vegetation, looks more like Ireland than Spain. The region’s vineyards form an arc around the deep sea inlets (rías) that pierce the coast. Needless to say, this is a place famous for its seafood. And albariño is a perfect partner.

“Dare to experiment, to ask questions and to embrace wine as a process of lifelong learning. Expect each bottle to be both a pleasure and a lesson (even when that lesson is “Never, ever order Latvian Verktvine again”). Then you can stop fearing wine and get on with the business of loving it.”

—Jennifer Rosen
Author, Waiter There’s a Horse in my Wine


If you drink only young wine, you might not have run across this word. Tertiary (TUR-she-air-ee) refers to aromas and flavors that come as a result of a wine’s long aging in the bottle—aromas and flavors like complex exotic spices, deep earthiness, old books, worn leather and so on. (Although admittedly these can sometimes show up in younger wines, too). In general, “primary” aromas and flavors are fruity characters that come from the grape—like blackberries, cassis or cherry flavors. “Secondary” aromas and flavors come from winemaking—the sweet, vanilla flavors that come from barrel fermentation, for example. And tertiary aromas and flavors (whatever they happen to be) come as a result of age.

Crafty Opossum Downs Craft Spirit

According to The Drinks Business, this merry marsupial snuck into Cash’s, a Florida liquor store, the day after Thanksgiving, broke a bottle of bourbon then drank the entire contents. The brand was not revealed. Found in a wobbly condition and looking rather pale, the opossum was taken in by the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge and given a Bloody Mary–I mean medical fluids. She has since been released. Many animals are known to appreciate the uplifting effects of an occasional nip including elephants, shrews, and fruit flies.


Number of Master Sommeliers in the Americas chapter–132 men and 25 women. The Court of Master Sommeliers was established in England in 1977 to improve the standard of wine and beverage service in restaurants and hotels. In 1987, the first MS Diploma Exam was held in the U.S.  There are now 247 MSs worldwide.


Number of reservations made at super chef Gordon Ramsay’s new Vegas restaurant in its first ten days, according to the L.A. Times. The restaurant is called Hell’s Kitchen after Ramsay’s wildly popular TV show of the same name. The Continental menu doesn’t move far from the classics, but reports are that the cocktails are fantastically avant garde.


Amount per gallon (in U.S. cents) that wineries will now pay in taxes on the first 30,000 gallons of wine they produce thanks to the new Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. While the excise tax on wine remains at $1.07 per gallon, the Act provides for a $1.00 credit on the first 30,000 gallons. The credit will be a boon, especially to small wineries.

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