Hanzell Chardonnay 2005
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."
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.
Currently revitalizing Hanzell with a regenerative organic farming and ecosystem focused program, Jason Jardine is continuing the legacy of innovation and dedication to quality that the Zellerbachs began. Not to mention they currently care for and benefit from the oldest producing Pinot Noir vines in the Western Hemisphere.
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.
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 it tends to flourish in most environments, Chardonnay from its Burgundian homeland produces some of the most remarkable and longest lived examples. California produces both oaky, buttery styles and leaner, European-inspired wines. Somm Secret—The Burgundian subregion of Chablis, while typically using older oak barrels, produces a bright style similar to the unoaked style. Anyone who doesn't like oaky Chardonnay would likely enjoy Chablis.