2010 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay
Wine & Spirits
After his travels to Europe to implement the Marshall Plan, and later as Ambassador to Italy, James Zellerbach’s interest in Burgundy led him to plant chardonnay and pinot noir in the hills above Sonoma in 1953. The vineyard, now expanded to 44 acres, rises from 430 to 820 feet. It still includes that original planting (six percent of this blend) and the current team, led by Bob Sessions and Michael McNeill, still hold to the idea that chardonnay should be elegant and savory, an expression of its site (the average age of the vines is 32 years). This vintage is tight and stony, with oak firming up the plump and gentle curves of peach-like fruit. Air brings up a chamomile flower scent that lasts, the finish clean and delicate. For the cellar.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright straw-yellow. High-pitched perfume of baked apple, lime zest, dusty oak spices, lavender and crushed stone, plus a whiff of Calvados. Broad, silky and mouthfilling but with a light touch and lovely perfume to the flavors of citrus pith, minerals, nutmeg and flowers. This dry, very young chardonnay manages to excite the palate without leaving any impression of weight. Finishes subtle, smooth and very long, with impressive aromatic carry-through on the end. Shows no edges today but I'd cellar this for at least a few years to allow it to express itself more fully. A superb vintage for this bottling.
Exhibits a fresh, snappy, vibrant mix of white peach, nectarine, chalky soil and pithy citrus peel notes. Full and persistent, this is tempting now, with a lively and engaging finish that promises to gain with time. Drink now through 2022.
San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 Wines of 2012: "I think of Hanzell at times like Corton-Charlemagne; big, dramatic, grown on soil also suited to red wine. You may not love it, but its legacy as California's progenitor of barrel-fermented Chardonnay demands respect. The tension-filled 2010 vintage offers savory oak, parsley and lime leaves, with amazing polish to its yellow fruit and an earth-driven mineral energy." Careful grape selection and winemaking help to realize the quality of this flagship Sonoma Chardonnay, which has long been known for its ageability. Moderate use of French oak (30% new) new serves to not overwhelm the profile, but help to articulate the expression of the Sonoma terroir of the two different sites included in this bottling. From the winery: "Brilliant aromas of lemon oil, nectarine, lime zest, chamomile and wet stone combine with our signature floral scent reminiscent of honeysuckle and jasmine. Green apple, pear and nectarine expand out over the rich, viscous mid-palate. The acidity comes forward as it carries the flavors on to a long, lemony finish. Though surprisingly generous in its youth, the concentration and the vibrant structure of this wine suggest an extremely good vintage for aging in the cellar. Decanting one to two hours before serving is recommended."