2008 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1071195 94 points Wine Enthusiast

 With Pinot Noir, the magic trick is to have it taste sweet and ripe, and yet to finish bone dry. Few wineries in California accomplish this as regularly as Hanzell, and here they come again, with this wonderful 2008. It’s entirely consistent with their past history, being dry, a little tannic and tantalizingly rich in cherry, raspberry and cola fruit. Enjoyable now, with decanting, and should develop in the cellar over the next dozen years if not longer, based on the winery’s track record. *Cellar Selection*  (2/2012)

91 points Allen Meadows - Burghound

 A perfumed and attractively spiced nose of pure and ripe red berry fruit aromas leads to solidly concentrated and intense flavors that possess a velvety mouth feel, all wrapped in a clean and agreeably dry finish. This beauty is clearly built to age and should reward up to a decade of cellar time.  (4/2012)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Pale, bright cherry-red. Briary cherry, raspberry, herbs and earth on the nose, complicated by cola and smoked meat nuances; became more chocolatey as it opened in the glass. Supple on entry, then silky in the middle, showing flavors of redcurrant, cherry, plum and spicy underbrush. A rather understated, earthy Pinot, finishing with a fine dusting of ripe tannins that turned a bit dry with aeration. (ST)  (5/2012)

K&L Notes

A heat spike during the early part of the 2008 vintage caused some significant shatter in the vines at Hanzell, resulting in a fruit set that was about half the normal size. It's like natural triage in the vineyard. This translated into some incredibly concentrated fruit, because the berries that set were about half the normal size, with a higher skin-to-juice ratio. What all this means is that the 2008 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir, which comes entirely from the Hanzell estate, is very concentrated, from its cherry and pomegranate-scented nose to its chocolaty, red-fruited palate. That's not to say the wine is purely a fruit bomb, though, there are aromas and flavors of rose petals, orange zest and tobacco, with subtler notes of forest floor, nutmeg and cinnamon spice. This is a bigger style of Pinot Noir that needs a little air right now, and one that will definitely reward if you stash it away in the cellar for a stitch.

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Price: $69.99

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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.


- 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).