2014 Walter Hansel "North Slope" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1294223 92-94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2014 Pinot Noir North Slope is fabulous, has a huge upside to it and probably will benefit from several years of bottle age. All of these were scheduled to be bottled in 2015. This is 100% clone 115 and Stephen Hansel says it’s the most fruit-forward of the wines. It is certainly seductive, hedonistic, with a dense ruby/purple color, beautiful black raspberry and black cherry fruit, a big medium to full-bodied mouthfeel, loads of glycerin and hedonism. It should turn out to be exceptional, but I do think it needs some time after it’s bottled to start its full potential. Some of the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerge from Stephen Hansel’s winery in the Russian River Valley. 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 2014 Pinot Noirs are still in barrel, where most of them are aged in 100% French oak and the percentage of new oak varies, but normally rarely exceeds 40%-50%. Crop size was severely reduced by crop thinning because of the large flowering and crop set. (RP)  (10/2015)

93 points Vinous

 In this range, the 2014 Pinot Noir The North Slope Vineyard comes across as quite reticent and tightly wound. The dark, intense flavor profile of the vintage is very much in evidence, but the 2014 needs time to come together. That should not be much of an issue, as the North Slope probably won't be released before 2017. It is so refreshing to taste with proprietor Stephen Hansel. At a time when so many of the world's best wines are increasingly unaffordable for the normal consumer, Hansel has kept his prices decidedly reasonable. As I have written before, Hansel's wines epitomize what the Russian River does so well; namely rich, butter Chardonnays and forward, juicy Pinots. Hansel reports that his vines set a very large crop in 2014, so he reduced yields by 20-30% for Chardonnays and as much as 60% for the Pinots. The results are in the glass, especially in 2014, which is so strong for Pinot. Hansel captured every bit of that magic with a range of striking Pinots that are among the best I have ever tasted here. During my January trip I also enjoyed a delicious meal at the Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro, a California version of a classic French bistro. The food was delicious, but more than the cooking I was struck by an old-fashioned sense of warmth and hospitality that I have not seen in a restaurant in a very long time. Everything about Walter Hansel Winery speaks to class. 93+ Points (AG)  (2/2016)

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Price: $38.99
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Staff Image By: Christina Stanley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/25/2017 | Send Email
The Walter Hansel "North Slope" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is crafted from small-yield Dijon clone grapes, known for complex and delicate aromatic qualities after fermentation. Of the highest quality, "North Slope" has a bouquet of wild violet, peony petal and fresh wildflowers like those you'd expect to find in Russian River Valley in spring. The palate is mineral-driven and fairly light, but bursting with deliciously ripe black and Bing cherry.

Staff Image By: Alex Schroeder | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/21/2017 | Send Email
This is such a beautiful, bright and expressive Pinot Noir. It’s perfumed with rich cherry, raspberry, and cola berry flavors, with plenty of underlying herbs, thyme and garrigue, and subtle baking spice from the French oak. And for all it’s delicate expressiveness, it can also be described as rich and powerful, with grippy tannins for structure and ageability. This will be fun to revisit in five years.​

Staff Image By: Scott Beckerley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 6/20/2017 | Send Email
Deep, deep nose of dark cherries, deep strawberry and rhubarb notes. Starts off lively on the palate and fleshes out with strawberry and cherry fruit, baking spices and lush mouthfeel. A super solid effort! As usual, this selection maintains that excellent Walter Hansel (high) quality.

Additional Information:


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.

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.


- 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.