2009 Walter Hansel "North Slope" Russian River Valley Chardonnay

SKU #1068808 94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Bright gold. Pungent, high-pitched aromas of lemongrass, lime, smoky minerals and jasmine. Deep, pliant and suave, with terrific minerality giving lift to its citrus and floral flavors. Building spiciness adds complexity to the extremely long, sappy finish. I really like this wine's blend of vivacity and power.  (5/2011)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2009 Chardonnay North Slope is a bit more energetic and focused than Cahill Lane, even though the vineyards are just a few feet apart at the top of the hillside. Lemon, pastry, white flowers and subtle French oak come together nicely in this elegant Chardonnay. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2017. 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. (AG)  (2/2012)

K&L Notes

Robert Parker: "The sensational, flowery-styled 2009 Chardonnay The North Slope (made from Davis clones) comes from a cool parcel with a northerly exposition. This wine possesses zesty acidity as well as abundant peach, nectarine, orange and crushed rock-like characteristics. There is more minerality and density than the Cahill Lane and Estate cuvees." (2/2011)

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Price: $29.99
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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:

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 Gew├╝rztraminer and Riesling can also be successful, and sparkling wine production has a long history in the area.