I'm lucky. Since I only make wines I'd like to drink, I get to choose my favorite varietals and use time-honored techniques to achieve wines that are accessible now - but can be laid down for later.
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Chardonnay is by far and away my favorite white wine. At Selby, I make two types of Chardonnay: a non-reserve and a reserve in honor of my father, Dave Selby, both of which are made from Russian River Valley fruit.
I strive to make Chardonnay that's luscious, supple and silky. I age both of our Chardonnays in French oak; the Russian River Valley blend is in 35 percent new barrels while the Dave Selby Reserve is in 100 percent new French oak.
Rich, explosive, supple, bright, subdued, tight, expansive, leathery, spicy, toasty, complex - all in one glass of wine? Naturally, I'm talking about Pinot Noir, one of my Dad's favorite wines and pivotal part of our collection. In his honor, and when the quality of the fruit permits, I make a reserve Pinot Noir.
I make Pinot Noir in a Burgundian style, with grapes from the Russian River Valley that yield a rich, complex wine. I take extra care to treat our Pinot fruit with kid gloves - because I think it makes a huge difference in the finished product.
I gently coax our Pinot Noir through the winemaking process, age it in 100 percent French oak and give it enough time to collect itself in the bottle before I release it. The result is positively hedonistic. Maybe that's why our Pinot Noir consistently wins critical praise for being elegant and sophisticated.
Is it any wonder that the world's most expensive wine (Chateau Petrus from Pomerol) is made from 99 percent Merlot? With enticing aromas of black plums, blackberries, cassis, bing cherries, semi-sweet chocolate and espresso, Merlot is an ideal candidate for the world's favorite wine.
Though many people think of Merlot as more approachable and softer than Cabernet Sauvignon, I believe Merlot is equally as complex as Cabernet and therefore demands exceptionally careful vinification.
I prefer a Merlot that's made to show off its ripe flavor as well as its conspicuously soft tannins. I make our Merlot with fruit from Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley, yielding an intense, jammy and wonderfully layered wine.
I love Syrah.
It's the best of all worlds when it comes to red wine: It's spicy, smoky, toasty, fruity, heady and enthralling. It goes with the food I love, as well as on its own. I'm not sure there's anything better than a big glass of Syrah, a slice of Cambazola cheese, a baguette and a great book. (Except maybe a second glass of Syrah.)
I make Syrah in the classic Cote Rotie style. I add judicious amounts of Viognier (the famous delicate white grape of the Rhone region) give the blend more floral aromas and complex flavors. The result is a powerful, yet accessible wine, with a firm structure and deep layers of fruit.
The first really great wine I ordered on my own - and enjoyed immensely - was a 1979 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon at the Pleasant Peasant Restaurant in Atlanta. It was my 21st birthday, and I fell in love with that wine.
Cabernet is a wine that helps you celebrate life. It can be everything great that a wine can be, particularly when the essentially flavors and aromas of the grape (blackberry, cassis, black currant, mint, eucalyptus, cedarwood, tobacco, leather and plum) are knitted together in one glorious glass. It's like Christmas in your mouth; a bevy of wonderful surprises with a lengthy finish.
Of all the wines made in California, no wine is more closely associated with the Golden State than Zinfandel. Though recent DNA research places its birthplace on the shores of the Dalmation Coast of Croatia, California has long claimed Zinfandel as its own. And rightly so; by the 1870s, Zinfandel was widely planted on the steep hillsides of Dry Creek Valley.
Powerful, jammy, spicy, toasty and thoroughly delicious, Zinfandel is a perfect mate to extra spicy pasta puttanesca or a roast chicken, or virtually any homey, approachable food. Our Old Vine Zinfandel is made with grapes from Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, and is widely recognized for its powerful fruit, layers of complexity and supple tannins, vintage after vintage.