2010 Walter Hansel "North Slope" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1120765 93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2010 Pinot Noir North Slope is a gorgeous wine laced with freshly cut flowers, spices, red berries and minerals. Saline notes are woven throughout, giving the wine its lift and vibrancy. The North Slope boasts gorgeous inner perfume and fabulous overall length. It will be interesting to see where this goes over the coming years. The future appears to be very bright. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022. This is an excellent set of wines from Steven Hansel. The Chardonnays are fermented and aged in barrels for a total of 10 months with lees stirring once a week for the first 8 weeks. Hansel favors Francois Freres and Seguin Moreau barrels, typically 50% new for the Chardonnays. The Pinots are made with fully destemmed fruit and aged in Seguin Moreau barrels, 70% new. Like many growers, Hansel was affected by late season rains in 2010. The estate was very aggressive with leaf pulling, which then created challenges, especially for the Chardonnays, when the heat spikes arrived. The 2010s have lower alcohol and higher acidities than the 2009s, but they also at times have a bit of heaviness from the very low yields of the year. The Pinots seem less affected by the weather in 2010. Vintage 2009 was much more regular, and that comes through in the consistency of both the Chardonnays and the Pinots.  (2/ 2012)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Vivid ruby-red. High-pitched raspberry and floral aromas are complemented by notes of star anise, allspice and mace. Tangy acidity adds lift and cut to intense raspberry and cherry-vanilla flavors, which pick up a floral character on the back half. Lively and precise on the energetic finish, which lingers with excellent spicy persistence.  (5/ 2012)

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Price: $38.99

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By: Bryan Brick |  K&L Staff Member  |  Review Date: 1/17/2013  | Send Email
I’m really loving the Pinot noirs from the 2010 vintage right now. The overall cooler year in most of the major regions for Pinot has lead to fresh, delicious wines that may be a touch lighter than usual but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to this varietal. The wines so far, it is still very early, strike me as having a tremendous level of purity while having electric acidity making flavors pop out of the glass. A perfect example of this is the 2010 Walter Hansel “North Slope” Russian River Valley Pinot. We’d championed Hansel for a number of years but I don’t know if there has been any Pinot from them that has been this good this young. The nose is layered with bold aromas of cinnamon sticks, cranberry, dried lavender and black tea. Instantly, without decanting or aeration, this is wildly expressive with rich, ripe raspberry/boysenberry fruit and a wealth of spices like clove and allspice. With air the wine spreads out and lengthens and shows truly how good it really is adding subtle notes of warm earth, an irony/bloody note and a seamless approach from nose to finish. If you’ve loved, or just liked, the Hansel Pinots in the past this is a no-brainer and if you’ve never had their wines this would be a perfect place to start.

Additional Information:

Varietal:

Pinot Noir

- One of France's most legendary grapes and the grape that earned Burgundy its reputation. The parent of varietals like Pinot Gris/Grigio and Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir is blue to violet to indigo in color with relatively thin skins, and it is said to have been cultivated in France for more than 2,000 years. At its best, Pinot Noir creates elegant wines that are filled with primary red fruit aromas and flavors while young, revealing with an array of secondary characteristics like earth, smoke, violet, truffle and game with age. The varietal is also known, perhaps better than any, for its ability to translate terroir, or a sense of place. While the best Pinot Noir still comes from Burgundy, it is being produced with increasing success in cooler climates around the world. In France, it is part of the trifecta of grapes that can go into Champagne, and it is also grown in Alsace, Irancy, Jura, Savoie, Lorraine and Sancerre. Outside of France it is produced under the names Pinot Nero and Blauburgunder in Italy's mountainous regions, as Spätburgunder in Germany and as Blauburgunder in Austria. In the US, Pinot Noir has found suitable growing conditions in the cooler parts of California, including Carneros, the Russian River Valley, the Anderson Valley, the Sonoma Coast, Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Barbara County, as well as in Oregon's Willamette Valley. In recent years, New Zealand has demonstrated its ability to interpret this hard-to-grow varietal, with successful bottlings coming from careful and attentive growers in Central Otago, Martinborough and Canterbury. Chile is also an up-and-coming region for Pinot Noir, creating fresh, fruit-forward, early-drinking and affordable Pinots from the coastal Casablanca Valley and the Limari Valley.
Country:

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.
Sub-Region:

California

- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Alexander Valley/Russian River

- Among Sonoma County's northernmost appellations, the Alexander Valley AVA acts as a gateway to neighboring Napa to the east and Mendocino to the north. It is a sprawling appellation, with pockets of distinct microclimates and soils, and as such, is home to a variety of wine grapes and styles. Nearly everything grows in the Alexander Valley, though Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the most widely planted grapes. The Russian River Valley lies to the south of Alexander Valley, and is marked by much cooler temperatures and frequently heavy fog. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown here are some of the state's finest and most sought-after. Aromatic whites like Gewürztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.