Walter Hansel Winery Chardonnay Russian River Valley Estate 2005
[94 pts Robert Parker] The 2005 Chardonnay Cuvee Alyce which is a selection of the best barrels and named after Stephen Hansel's mother exhibits more honeysuckle poached pear and sauteed buttery citrus. The wine has gorgeous fruit terrific acidity and underlying minerality and depth. This is a superb wine that should age nicely for 7-8 years. A terrific source of sensational Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays made very much in the style of the wines proprietor Stephen Hansel loves the most white and red Burgundies this 80-acre estate continues to build on a brilliant track record of high quality wines offered to consumers at sensationally fair prices.
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The 2003 Chardonnay North Slope Vineyard (522 cases produced from the most northern sector of the Hansel vineyards) possesses tart acidity, a vivacious, Chassagne-Montrachet-like bouquet of lemon oil, citrus, and flowers, and a striking minerality. It is a fresh, lively Chardonnay to enjoy over the next 5-7 years.
The last releases of Chardonnays from the brilliant 2005 vintage for this varietal include the 2005 Chardonnay The North Slope Vineyard. Burgundian notes of hazelnut, brioche, white currants, and hints of peach and crushed rocks are impressive and intense. This is a full-bodied Chardonnay with crisp acidity that should age nicely for 5-6 years. It was aged in French cooperage (mostly Francois Freres and about 49% new oak).
This superb Russian River winery is run by a dedicated Burgundy aficionado, Stephen Hansel, whose goal is to produce Burgundian-styled Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs from his Russian River vineyards. With more than 80 acres under vine, and an outstanding track record dating back to 1978, Hansel has not let success go to his head as prices remain reasonable. The superb 2004 Chardonnay North Slope Vineyard offers up aromas of honeysuckle, poached pears, lemon blossom, and subtle oak. From one of the cooler, most northern Hansel vineyards, it possesses superb underlying acidity and structure (reminiscent of a red wine). Enjoy it over the next 5-7 years.
Slightly better is the 2006 Chardonnay North Slope, which displays crushed rock, white currant, and quince notes, a bit of pineapple and poached pear, and some hints of smoky nuts in a full-bodied, evolved, but complex style. This too needs to be drunk soon - 1-2 years.
Similar in style, the 2008 Chardonnay The North Slope comes from a slightly cooler site. The light straw color with a greenish hue is followed by abundant notes of quince, white currants, white peaches, and such honeyed tropical fruits as pineapples and oranges. It, too, will drink well for 7-8 years.
Green-tinged yellow. A complex, spicy bouquet displays scents of pear skin, orange, white flowers and smoky minerals. Pliant citrus and orchard fruit flavors show palate-staining depth and are sharpened by suave minerality and a touch of bitter lime pith. Plays richness off energy and finishes with impressive spicy and floral persistence.
Hazy yellow color. Strikingly complex nose suggests ripe pear, orange, anise and dusty minerals. Juicy and fresh, with admirably restrained citrus and orchard fruit flavors. Reminded me of a suave Puligny-Montrachet. A delicious wine with excellent finishing lift and clarity.
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