Wine Enthusiast (1997):
Irresistible aromas of blackberries, dark chocolate, kid leather and smoky oak are pure pleasure. In the mouth, there’s great depth of flavor, with juicy plum, pepper and dark berry notes. The sappy, silky-smooth texture is classic Pinot...
(2008) Cellar Selection* With Pinot Noir, the magic trick is to have it taste sweet and ripe, and yet to finish bone dry. Few wineries in California accomplish this as regularly as Hanzell, and here they come again, with this wonderful 2008. It’s entirely consistent with their past history, being dry, a little tannic and tantalizingly rich in cherry, raspberry and cola fruit. Enjoyable now, with decanting, and should develop in the cellar over the next dozen years if not longer, based on the winery’s track record. (2/2012)
A heat spike during the early part of the 2008 vintage caused some significant shatter in the vines at Hanzell, resulting in a fruit set that was about half the normal size. It's like natural triage in the vineyard. This translated into some incredibly concentrated fruit, because the berries that set were about half the normal size, with a higher skin-to-juice ratio. What all this means is that the 2008 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir, which comes entirely from the Hanzell estate, is very concentrated, from its cherry and pomegranate-scented nose to its chocolaty, red-fruited palate. That's not to say the wine is purely a fruit bomb, though, there are aromas and flavors of rose petals, orange zest and tobacco, with subtler notes of forest floor, nutmeg and cinnamon spice. This is a bigger style of Pinot Noir that needs a little air right now, and one that will definitely reward if you stash it away in the cellar for a stitch.
Hanzell took on a new barrel regime with the 2011 vintage, opening the door to several different coopers to taste over time. Additionally in 2011, the Pinot grapes came from both the Sessions and de Brye vineyards. The wine is marked by a bouquet of baked strawberry and cherry, the layers interwoven in oak and dust. (VB) (10/2014)
One bottle each of 1997, 2008, 2011