Today's Sponsors:
 California Wine Club
Wines Not Found In Local Stores!

 Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association
Temecula Valley Winemakers Gold Dinner.

In This Issue
 Introducing Selby A visit from a California wine maker.
 Six wines from Selby Notes from a wine maker dinner.
Administrivia Change E-mail address, frequency, format or unsubscribe.

Introducing Selby

Susie Selby One of the more challenging things about being a wine writer based in a non-traditional wine area is that, once you get past a handful of local small-farm wineries, you've pretty much got to travel if you want to see grapevines growing and talk to the people who tend them.

But every now and then a visiting wine maker comes to town, and as often as I can, I try to take advantage of the opportunity to meet and learn from the people who fashion the beverage we love.

This week's visitor was Susie Selby, who makes a fine California wine that bears her family name. Founded just over a decade ago by her father, Dr. David K. Selby, Selby Winery is based in Healdsburg, in Sonoma County, and sources its grapes from vineyards in the Russian River, Dry Creek and Alexander valleys and Carneros.

Susie, an adopted Californian who grew up in Dallas and went to Vanderbilt College in Tennessee, earned her MBA from George Washington University and worked in the corporate arena before joining the family winery. She's a hands-on wine maker who runs the production and still manages to find time to get around the country to talk about Selby wines.

"I learned everything I could by doing it myself," she writes on the Selby Website. "I began as a tasting room manager, then moved into marketing and compliance. I learned about the mechanics of winemaking when I became a 'cellar rat,' so I could work with barrels and wine, drive a forklift, manage a cellar and warehouse, help with harvest and crush. From there, I became an assistant winemaker, pulling sugars, blending and learning the finer techniques of winemaking . Because I believe that running your own winery should not be left to others, there is not a single aspect of Selby Winery in which I'm not personally involved. Today, I am the sole winemaker at Selby Winery, as well as the chief executive officer."

Susie brought six Selby reds to Louisville, where she dined Wednesday night with a small group of local wine enthusiasts at the city's excellent North End Cafe.

None of the critically acclaimed Selby Chardonnay was available for tasting - the small production sold out after the wine received a 90-plus rating from Wine Spectator - but I found the reds consistently persuasive, distinctly Californian in their forward fruit, but honest, balanced wines, not manipulated or overoaked.

In short, the Selby wines seem thoroughly consistent with Susie's expressed wine-making philosophy: "I make wine I love to drink, plain and simple. I don't doctor our wines with technological tricks; instead, I favor traditional principles of winemaking that yield elegant, sophisticated and accessible wines you can enjoy today and tomorrow. If it's possible to do it by hand, I do."

If you have questions or would like to comment about today's topic (or other wine-related issues), you'll find a round-table online discussion about this article in our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, where you're always welcome to join in the conversations about wine.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Six wines from Selby

These wines were presented at a dinner tasting by Vintner Select, Selby's regional distributor.

Selby 2000 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Dark ruby. Black-cherry and ripe tomato aromas and a whiff of spice. Sweet red-fruit flavors, full and ripe, plushy but plenty of fresh-fruit acidity for balance.

Selby 2000 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Very dark reddish-purple. Good, typical Cabernet cassis with a dash of cinnamon and clove. Mouth-filling fruit, structured and "sweet" with a back note of gentle tannins; very long finish.

Selby 2001 Dry Creek Valley Vesenez Vineyard Syrah
Inky, black. Plums and pepper on the nose and palate; big but not muscle-bound, an elegant presentation of Syrah.

Selby 2001 Alexander Valley Syrah
Very dark reddish purple. Plummy, ripe, well structured and complex. A touch of Viognier in the blend. Outstanding, one of the most enjoyable California Syrahs I've tasted.

Selby 2001 Dry Creek Valley Old Vines Zinfandel
Very dark, brambly, big but elegant by Zin standards. Fine.

Selby 2000 Sonoma County Bobcat Zinfandel
Deep bramble frult and sassafrass. Powerful (16.3 percent) but balanced and surprisingly refined - a Zin almost in the Turley style, but showing elegance and grace despite its muscularity - appropriately served as an after-dinner drink.

FOOD MATCH: Louisville's North End Cafe specializes in eclectic tapas-style plates with international accents, and Selby's wines went well with a broad variety, from duck confit with caramelized onions, date pure and demiglace on crostini (great with the Pinot) to spicy baby back pork ribs (fine with the Syrah), and an entree order of wild-mushroom lasagna with tomato sauce accented with a basil crème fraîche.

VALUE: The Selby wines sell at the winery in the range of $19 (for the Syrah, 2000 vintage) to $35 (for the Cabernet, 1999 vintage). Based on the wines' consistent high quality, these prices are fully competitive with other quality Sonoma producers.

WHEN TO DRINK: Selby wines are made for immediate enjoyment, but cellaring won't do any of them harm, and the Cabernet in particular may benefit from a few years of cellar time.

WEB LINK: Selby's Website contains substantial information about the winery, the vineyards and the wines, in addition to E-commerce sales where the law permits:

FIND THESE WINES ONLINE: Selby said her wines are now available at retail in 13 states. They are also available online in the winery Website's "Tasting Room/Store,"
The Website also offers an opportunity to sign up for the new Selby Wine Club,
which will send a shipment of wines to subscribers three times a year.

To find vendors for Selby wines, including the hard-to-find Chardonnays, see,

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


For information, E-mail


To subscribe or unsubscribe from The 30 Second Wine Advisor, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.

We do not use our E-mail list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail address to anyone. I welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. To contact me, please send E-mail to

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

Friday, June 18, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor

Wine Advisor archives