We had a great visit at Walter Hansel winery last week conducted by their vineyard manager and assistant wine-maker Jesse Torres. For me, the standout was their Cuvee Alyce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Chardonnay was quintessential Russian River with excellent fruit yet exceptionally well balanced with everything in proportion. If you don't like this wine, you better not drink Chardonnay. The Pinot Noir was equally as good but not released until this spring. Once it is released, we will put an offer out. The crazy thing is I tasted several other Russian River Chardonnays last week, many at twice the price or more, and this was my favorite. Steve Hansel and crew do a fantastic job delivering high-quality Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at great prices!
I know we just went out big on the Hansel Estate Chardonnay from 2017, which we sold a bunch of. But the newly released 2017 Cuvee Alyce Chardonnay is a fantastic bottle too that we had to make mention! This vineyard is the highest in elevation of all Walter Hansel's estate vineyards, and the soil is a combination of gravel and sand. This wine tends to be most opulent Chardonnay Walter Hansel produces, but this year, it has the whole packet. Great floral aromatics, a beautiful core of stone fruits, and an incredible liquid mineral and fruit finish. This wine sees 50% new French oak and 50% 1-2-year-old French oak barrels. This bottle is an absolute joy for anyone that loves the Chardonnay grape!
Vinous (Antonio Galloni) 94 pts! The 2017 Chardonnay Cuvée Alyce is dense, powerful and creamy, delivering tremendous textural richness and resonance. Apricot, orchard fruit, dried flowers, chamomile and mint all flesh out in this deep, beautifully layered Chardonnay. Today, the 2017 is quite closed, but that should not be an issue when the wine is eventually released in a few years' time. (Drink between 2021-2030)
Wine Advocate (Erin Brooks) 94 pts! The 2017 Chardonnay Cuvée Alyce opens with new oak aromas of toast, smoke, nutmeg and a gunflint hint with pie crust, spiced red apples, warm yellow peaches and loads of savory nuances—honey, hazelnuts, dried hay—at the core. Medium to full-bodied, it packs a wallop of flavor in the mouth, giving up oodles of warm fruits, spices and savory flavors, with great freshness to lift the very long, layered finish. This is fabulous! Give it another couple years in bottle. 892 cases produced.