2002 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay (Previously $60)

SKU #1014831 92 points Wine & Spirits

 James Zellerbach founded this winery, planting Chardonnay on the hills above Sonoma in 1953. Those vines now give an elegant wine, its fruit textured by oak aging rather than flavored by it. There's a waxiness and creaminess to the wine, the fruit at first simple, then developing flavors of fresh apple and peach. It tastes generous and clean, best decanted if opened now and served with blanquette de veau. Or cellar it through 2010.  (12/2005)

90 points Wine Enthusiast

 ** Cellar Selection ** I have tasted a number of bottle-aged Hanzell Chardonnays, and when properly cellared from a good vintage, they are totally amazing. This is likely to be such a wine, but right now, it's tight, tart and earthy, with hints of peach. It's not a mind blower, but is a Chard for those serious about their cellars. Best after 2010.  (12/2005)

K&L Notes

Minerality is at the core of this European-styled Chardonnay, that would not be out of place at a tasting of Premier Cru Chablis. Flavors of ripe apple, pear compote and warm baguette are held together by acidity and a finish that speaks of grapefruit zest. Elegantly textured, this is not the kind of California Chardonnay that fatigues your palate after a couple of sips. Enjoy with poultry and firm-fleshed fish.

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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

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.


- 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.
Specific Appellation:

Sonoma County

- Second in fame only to Napa, this "other" valley offers just about every climate and topography imaginable. From its cool and fog-enshrouded coastal regions on the far west, to the sprawling Alexander Valley on the boarder of Napa and the many little dips and peaks in between, Sonoma has been a vital wine-grape-growing region since the mid 1800s. Important sub-AVAs include Chalk Hill (known for chardonnay and sauvignon blanc), Dry Creek Valley (where zin is king) Knights Valley (largely cabernet land), Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast (both celebrated pinot and chardonnay zones).