As this was Michael Terrien's first vintage making the wine, he was focused on determining how Hanzell Chardonnay distinguishes itself in the company of other California Chardonnays.
Hanzell's recipe is unique: grapes are crushed before pressing, fermentation occurs in tank rather than barrel, new oak barrels are used only moderately, and malo-lactic fermentation is largely suppressed.
The winemaking is so traditional as to be, in an odd way, iconoclast and new.
Hanzell recipe honors a lighter winemaking touch and permits clarity of expression. The wine is about place rather than ingredients; traditional, but intentional.
Glistening and bright with citrus peel (mostly grapefruit) and bread dough aromas of yeast and wet flour. Subtle flower aromas lift the pear and apple scent and the honeyed, oily richness that develops with bottle age is just beginning to emerge upon the wine's release.
"Few wineries in California can craft a Chard as rich, balanced and ageworthy as this. In its youth this '05 is flashy in lemondrop, pear and spicy anise, with a honeyed finish and crisp acidity. It's quite addictively brilliant, a wine whose lush harmony mesmerizes the palate. But Hanzell Chards invariably age well, and this is a wine you can dependably put into your cellar for 5, 10, 15 years, even longer, as it continues to evolve and become more limpid and minerally."
I don't tend to drink too much Chardonnay, but this one was something of a revelation. Everything in balance - just a touch of French oak, minerally, crisp apples, hazelnuts and ripe pear. It has the potential to age beautifully, although delicious right now. From some of the most impressive hillside vineyards in Sonoma.
A pleasant, balanced wine.