2013 Walter Hansel "Cuvee Alyce" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce, which is made from a field blend of Dijon clones 115 and 777, is also backward and restrained. I can totally understand Stephen Hansel’s statement that the 2013 Pinots are very European with their reserved character. This is a big wine, dense, ruby in color, with terrific fruit intensity, but the tannins still dominate, and the wine has good acidity and a backward personality. It’s not austere by any means and should blossom fully with another 1-2 years of bottle age. It could turn out to be a low- to mid-90 pointer. It’s certainly capable of lasting at least a decade. Some of the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerge from Stephen Hansel’s winery in the Russian River Valley. He also has the wonderful Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa. Hansel reduced the crop size by 20%-30% through crop thinning in 2014 because of irregular berry size and improved the level of concentration. All of the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are bottled unfiltered. The 2013 Pinot Noirs, which Stephen Hansel described as more European and restrained than the 2012s, were all bottled unfined and unfiltered and are just now beginning to strut their stuff. All represent excellent value in Pinot Noir. (RP)
The 2013 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce is quite beautiful today, with gorgeous complexity, plenty of depth and fabulous overall balance. Game, smoke, tobacco and licorice add nuance to a core of expressive red-toned fruits. Today, I see a little less than in the some of the other wines, the North Slope in particular, but that is really splitting hairs at this level. 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...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* Proactive winemaking comes to the fore here as the wine sports a full measure of rich oak and a toasty turn of lees, and, if purists might complain that the maker's hand is too visible, we find this one to be a Chardonnay of complexity and great interest whose solid foundation of deep and very well-defined fruit is never in question. Its obvious richness and near-term appeal notwithstanding, it is a firmly structured wine that absolutely begs for age, and every sign points to better some three or four years down the line.