2013 Walter Hansel "Three Rows" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

SKU #1301908 89-92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2013 Pinot Noir Three Rows reveals a more gamey, meaty, Burgundian personality with notes of forest floor, underbrush, Asian plum sauce and red cherries. This elegant, spicy 2013 should drink nicely for a decade. Production was only 100 cases. The consistently run Walter Hansel winery (now in the capable hands of Steve Hansel) has over 40 acres of Chardonnay and 40 acres of Pinot Noir, all family-owned. Visitors to the Sonoma Valley, especially the Santa Rosa area, will also enjoy a stop at the Walter Hansel Wine Bar and Bistro on Guernville Road, an excellent venue with a terrific wine list as well as delicious, French-inspired bistro cuisine...The 2013 growing season was ideal, with plenty of warmth, but no heat spikes, which can cause raisining and vineyard stress. The fact that 2013 produced a more European style of wine, especially aromatically, flavor-wise and structurally is largely confirmed over and over again by the high-quality producers in both Napa and Sonoma...In other words, they are made in the classic California style. The Hansel wines follow these tendencies, and if the 2013 ratings are slightly more restrained than the same ratings for the 2012s, it is because the wines are more restrained, and probably will show more with additional time in bottle. Nevertheless, they all received outstanding ratings, and while all of them represent very good bargains, two are exceptional values. (RP)  (12/2014)

91 points Vinous

 The 2013 Pinot Noir Three Rows emerges from the oldest block on the property, planted in 1989 with clonal material from Rochioli. Powerful and quite massive today, the Three Rows is going to need time to fully come together. Today it is shy and reticent, although there appears to be plenty of underlying material and promise. 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...The Hansel wines capture the essence of the Russian River in their exuberant, forward personalities...The Pinots see a five day cold-soak and are vinified, fully destemmed, in open-top wood fermenters, after which they are aged in French oak, about 60% new. 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. Stephen Hansel also runs a number of successful car franchises in the area and clearly has a knack for putting the consumer first. What's not to like? (AG)  (1/2015)

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Price: $41.99
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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 Sp├Ątburgunder 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:

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.