2009 Walter Hansel Cuvee Alyce Russian River Chardonnay 750ml
All of the estate grown Chardonnays are fermented and aged in Francois Freres French cooperage (40% new and 60% used), and undergo lees stirring and full malolactic. Hansel has added two negociant wines to his portfolio made from grapes purchased from the Diamond Ranch in Carneros and Feeney Home Ranch in the Russian River. Hansel told me that yields were dramatically reduced in 2008 because of the spring frost, and that explains why the wines have an extra level of power and concentration. Across the board, Hansel’s yields were down by 33%-40% from a “regular” vintage such as 2007. The two negociant offerings are pleasant wines, but I’m not sure I understand why he’s producing them given how great the bargains are from the estate wines. The 2008 Pinot Noir crop was not as badly affected by frost as were the Chardonnays, and generally, the following wines are all tightly-knit and slightly closed, but with good acidity, concentration, and potential.
ROBERT PARKER REVIEW: A selection of the finest barrels, the 2009 Chardonnay Cuvee Alyce (named for Stephen Hansel’s mother) is fashioned from both the old Wente clone and the newer Dijon Clone 95. This Chardonnay possesses all the same characteristics as are found in The North Slope, but more structure, restraint and possibly more aging potential. This intense 2009 reveals that overwhelming elegance that is a hallmark of this vintage. The most backward of these estate Chardonnays, it should last for a decade.