2013 Walter Hansel "The Meadows" Russian River Valley Chardonnay
The 2013 Chardonnay The Meadows has a real sense of phenolic weight and density, yet the flavors remain bright, focused and beautifully nuanced throughout. Lemon peel, hazelnut, butter, spice and mint blossom as this beautifully textured, layered Chardonnay shows off its notable personality and pure class. Stephen Hansel is one of the most intelligent winery owners in Sonoma. More interested in getting people to drink his wines than in maximizing short-term profit, Hansel continues to offer some of the very best wines readers will find for the money. In particular, the Estate Chardonnay, $25 a bottle, is surely one of the best values in wine. The Hansel wines capture the essence of the Russian River in their exuberant, forward personalities. In my view, the Chardonnays are reference points for what Wente clone Chardonnay is all about. The Chardonnays see some lees stirring and spend about ten months in oak. The Pinots see a five day cold-soak and are vinified, fully destemmed, in open-top wood fermenters, after which they are aged in French oak, about 60% new. After the large crop of 2012, Hansel dropped a significant amount of fruit in 2013, roughly 60% of the Pinot crop and 30% of the Chardonnay crop. Quality is high across the board and pricing remains incredibly consumer friendly throughout the range, making these some of the most delicious and compelling Sonoma wines readers will come across. (AG)
*Two Stars* Toasty oak once again gets a good deal of play here, and, as is the case with the winery's Cuvée Alyce, this rendition comes with plenty of vigorous young fruit. While also fairly full-bodied, it is the slightly tighter of the two wines at this point, yet its inclination to firmness in no way detracts from its multi-faceted expression of green apples, citrus, minerals and subtle spice and instead guarantees that the wine has several years of positive growth before it.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Another top value, the 2013 Chardonnay The Meadows, which comes from the lowest elevation Chardonnay vineyard the Hansels own. The soils are classic loamy, sandy, Goldridge soils, and the wine sees 40% new oak. It possesses a European/Corton-Charlemagne style with hints of ripe peaches, pineapples and orange blossoms in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively style with good acidity. Drink now-2018. (RP)