California Wines ~ Burgundy Style

Burgundy produces two grape varieties ~ Chardonnay and Pinot Noir


Making top-quality Chardonnay invariably includes fermentation and maturation in different varieties and ages of oak barrels; a second, softening malolactic fermentation; and different levels of stirring, or 'batonnage', of the lees at the bottom of the barrel, always careful that the barrel does not impose its flavors on the wine.

In Sonoma we have produced some fine Chardonnay, directing our vineyard management and winemaking towards three distinct styles of Chardonnay.

Amourette, our first Chardonnay, is made very much like Montrachet or Meursault, lean and delicate it is appetizing and refreshing.

Our Chantilly Chardonnay is modeled after Chablis with some suggestion of greener fruit and a pure, nuanced “wet stone” character in the mid palate.

A distinctive role for Chardonnay is in top-quality sparkling wine. Although in most champagne it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay shows that it can produce elegant, lively, savory Fizz all by itself.

Pinot Noir

Capable of producing beautiful fruity expressions of wine, Pinot Noir is often unwilling to do so due to its sensitivity to the size of crop it is being asked to produce. Also sensitive to heat and rain this difficult variety is a very transparent grape. It can communicate the difference in terroir, or grape-growing environment, between adjacent plots of the same vineyard and there is enormous variation in wine quality between different Pinot grape clones.

The greatest Pinot Noir is found in the Grands Cru wines of the Côte d'Or, the heartland of Burgundy. While certainly different to the best of Burgundy, our Russian River Valley Pinot vineyard growing the old Dejon clone of Pommard and sustainably farmed for low-yield, has demonstrated that it too can develop the welcoming fruit flavor and texture that dominate good-quality Pinot Noir.

Burgundy Map

Williamson Burgundy-Style Wines

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Amourette Chardonnay

Amourette refers to the "little love affair" that Bill has with the Amourette vineyard at our home ranch. Developed to produce a Montrachet style of Chardonnay it is the subject of an entire chapter in the book Way Beyond Wine

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Chantilly Chardonnay

Chantilly is an attractive Chablis-style wine, pale gold, with floral aromas of white peach, lemon and butterscotch. The winemaking technique includes barrel fermentation in a matrix of one, two and three-year-old French oak barrels.

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Fizz Sparkling White

Fizz - Because that's how you welcome friends - "Pop open some Fizz" a true Brut Blanc "Grower Champagne" produced from a Cuvée of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir using the traditional Méthode Champenoise process.

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Passion Pinot Noir

Light color, inviting bouquet. Subtle brown spice, lush accents of red raspberry, cola, pine cone and dried thyme. Lingering it shows rose petals, violet and spice with poise and grace instead of raw power like an aging Romanée-Conti.

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Rapture Pinot Noir

Instantly personable with hints of dark cherry and vanilla aroma over slightly earthy notes typical of a climat Burgundy. Red fruit flavors of plum and cherry, nice acidity and tannin structure combine to make it opulent in the mouth.

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