2014 Hanzell, Chardonnay, Estate, Sonoma Valley.
One of California’s absolute legends, Hanzell Vineyards in Sonoma Valley, is a historic winery founded back in 1953 by Ambassador James D. Zellerbach on 200 acres near Sonoma Mountain where cool breezes and perfect soils make for exceptional Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which has proven out over the 60 years with amazing long lived wines of remarkable class and quality. The greats of California, Chalone, Mount Eden-Martin Ray, Swan and Hanzell made their mark in the wine world in the 1970’s and early 80’s with Chateau Montelena joining the party with their fabled victory over the French in the judgement in Paris tasting, but since then it must be said that only Hanzell has stayed at top of their game and remain a Grand Cru force! This 2014, while still a baby, is amazingly detailed, vivid and mineral driven with hedonistic concentration and depth, I am always thrilled to try these wines and this one is without question a beauty in every regard showing a light perfume of white flowers and flowing across the palate with a lemony vitality before gaining a full width of flavors that includes apple, bosc pear, peach and a hint of smoky vanilla and wet stones. Pure and heighten by natural acidity this powerful Chardonnay is ready to withstand decades of age, wow, this gets more intense by the minute adding hazelnut, and more lemon zest to it’s steely frame, anyone who thinks Burgundy rules the world might wanna try this magnificent Hanzell Chardonnay, it’s outrageously good, and a stunning example of what California Chardonnay be, beyond the buttery/flabby stuff that appeals to cocktail class of Chardonnay drinkers. An estate blend The Hanzell 2014 Chardonnay, is sourced from thirty-two acres of Hanzell’s historic Ambassador’s 1953, Day, de Brye, Ramos and Zellerbach parcels, all set on mostly hillside rocky volcanic and clay-loamy soils, that are planted to Hanzell and Old Wente (heritage clones) mostly, along with Robert Young, Dijon 76, Dijon 95, Hyde and Prosser clones, with an average age of thirty-five years on the vines at between 500 to 830 feet of elevation. Hanzell, to preserve freshness, fermented 75% in stainless steel tank with 25% barrel ferment, they pressed after a two hour cold soak on the skins and after primary (25% lees aged with full malos in barrel, the rest non-malo) the wine was aged in small barrique for 12 months, it’s a winning formula for this estate and the wine is just stunning, brilliantly golden pale with extraordinary precision and lingering tanginess. This bottle, a prize for Arsenal beating Chelsea in the F.A. Cup a couple of years ago, thank you Kim, it’s tasted even better than I’d have imagined! Drink from 2020 to 2028.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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