Walter Hansel Winery Russian River Valley
Stephen Hansel’s small Russian River winery is very low key in terms of publicity but he produces some of the most strikingly impressive and well priced Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the Sonoma Valley, and California for that matter. The property was established by the late Walter Hansel, Stephen’s father and it remains small and commited to quality. All the fruit for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir comes from estate owned vineyards. A very decent Sauvignon Blanc is produced from bought-in Russian River fruit, particularly in vintages when the Chardonnay volumes are a little short. For the first time in 2013 a little rosé was made from Pinot Noir. All the Chardonnays are marked by a rich texture and a pure mineral character. The Cahill Lane bottling a touch more structured and poised than the full-throttle Russian River Valley wine. The splendidly dense and very concentrated Cuvée Alyce is a barrel-selection from the best barrels earmarked from the best blocks and gets a touch longer on lees. Of a splendid range of Pinot Noirs, the Cahill Lane is perhaps the tightest, most elegant while the South Slope is more opulent and exotic in style than a more structured North Slope example. A Three Rows bottling accounts for barely 50 cases a year and is loaded with dark and restrained berry fruit and beautifully judged oak. The top Pinot Noir is Cuvée Alyce which like the Chardonnay, is a selection both by the barrel and from blocks that yield barely more than three-quarters of a ton to the acre (the average across the vineyard is closer to two tons). It is an extraordinarily dense, rich and truly opulent example of the variety. Given the very fair prices these wines are a must for any discerning drinker. (DM)
To find out more about Walter Hansel and their wines, and to see how we reviewed and rated their wines you can check out the Wine Guide California North Coast..
Or indeed you can check out the Main Guide that is 2250 pages, reviews over 4000 vineyards and over 30,000 wines here …