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Hanzell Chardonnay 1998

Chardonnay from Sonoma County, California
  • WS90
0% ABV
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  • WE96
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Winemaker Notes

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. The Vintage: "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." Winemaker's Comments: "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."

Critical Acclaim

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WS 90
Wine Spectator
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Hanzell

Hanzell Vineyards

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Hanzell Vineyards, Sonoma County, California
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Industrialist James D. Zellerbach acquired the 200 acre Hanzell estate on the Mayacamas slopes above the town of Sonoma in 1948, and in 1952 he planted 2 acres of Pinot Noir and 4 acres of Chardonnay on the site. The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Zellerbachs created the first vintage in 1957 and named their winery Hanzell, a contraction of Mrs. Hana Zellerbach's name.

Zellerbach hired Ralph Bradford Webb in 1956 to be his winemaker and Webb would be integral to the winemaking for the first two decades of Hanzell. Webb introduced four significant advances in enology that would subsequently be adopted by many other wineries, predicating consistency and quality for the entire industry -temperature-controlled fermentation, the use of French Oak barrels, the practice of "blanketing" young wines in tank with inert gas and the practice of induced malolactic fermentation.

The original 6 acre vineyard has grown to 42 acres today, allowing Hanzell to produce 6,000 cases annually: three-quarters Chardonnay and one-quarter Pinot Noir, retaining its identity as a very small winery dedicated to making the Burgundian varietals at the Grand Cru level. Through five decades, Hanzell has pursued empirical winemaking and established traditions on which great cellar-worthy winemaking is predicated.

Sonoma County

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Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.

Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.

Chardonnay

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One of the most popular and versatile white wine grapes, Chardonnay offers a wide range of flavors and styles depending on where it is grown and how it is made. While practically every country in the wine producing world grows it, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. As far as cellar potential, white Burgundy rivals the world’s other age-worthy whites like Riesling or botrytized Semillon. California is Chardonnay’s second most important home, where both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines enjoy great popularity. Oregon, Australia and South America are also significant producers of Chardonnay.

In the Glass

When planted on cool sites, Chardonnay flavors tend towards grapefruit, lemon zest, green apple, celery leaf and wet flint, while warmer locations coax out richer, more tropical flavors of melon, peach and pineapple. Oak can add notes of vanilla, coconut and spice, while malolactic fermentation imparts a soft and creamy texture.

Perfect Pairings

Chardonnay is as versatile at the table as it is in the vineyard. The crisp, clean, Chablis-like styles go well with flaky white fish with herbs, scallops, turkey breast and soft cheeses. Richer Chardonnays marry well with lobster, crab, salmon, roasted chicken and creamy sauces.

Sommelier Secret

Since the 1990s, big, oaky, buttery Chardonnays from California have enjoyed explosive popularity. More recently, the pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction, towards a clean, crisp style that rarely utilizes new oak. In Burgundy, the subregion of Chablis, while typically employing the use of older oak barrels, produces a similar bright and acid-driven style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy its lighter style.

LAU1802017_1998 Item# 35592