Hanzell Vineyards Chardonnay is rich, but vibrant. In its youth it is filled with the sharp signature of the chardonnay grape: pear, pineapple, citrus, green apple. Also present when young is a steely, minerally quality and bright citrus crispness. As the chardonnay matures it gains nuances of sweet pear, honey, ripe apple, vanilla, hazelnut, smoke, and toasted almond.
The majority of the chardonnay is fermented in custom-made stainless-steel tanks that hold one ton. About 10-20% is fermented in barrels, and aged 10 months sur lie with the lees stirred up to six months. The chardonnay is allowed a short period of skin contact in the one-ton stainless steel fermentation tanks before being pressed. It is transferred into other tanks of various sizes and allowed a period of cold settling prior to being inoculated for fermentation.
Hanzell Vineyards uses almost exclusively Tonnellerie Sirugue barrels from Nuits-St.-Georges, France to age the chardonnay. Approximately 25-40% is allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation on average. The chardonnay ages for one year in barrel, of which 25% are new.
"This year's vines started growing rather late because of cool temperatures and robust rain from November through February. It was a steady moderate summer which was mild enough until the end of September and beginning of October. Then for a few days a flash of heat ripened the fruit almost faster than we could pick it, and we finished with very ripe and very flavorful clusters of Chardonnay."
"We think our '98 is a stunner. It starts out very brightly in the nose with nice, fruity pear-peach-apple. It's got a very small touch of malolactic influence and then a larger wave of that mineral, almost fruit-like quality that emanates from the lower slopes of the Mayacamas range. Its finish is powerful and stays for the longest time! This seems a particularly powerful expression of the great ancient Burgundy clone of Chardonnay that we grow and cherish at Hanzell."