Wine Advocate 92
"The 2017 Chardonnay The Meadows Vineyard gives smoke and gunflint aromas to begin, with red apple skin, crushed shell, flaky pastry, white peach and white blossoms. The palate is medium to full-bodied, creamy and pleasantly weighty in the mouth with concentrated fruits, juicy freshness and a long, minerally finish. 544 cases produced. Pricing is important to me, says Steven Hansel. In the marketplace, most people treat wine like a commodityif people are willing to pay 100, thats what its sold forwithout any relation to what it actually costs to make. If were going to get young people to drink wine, they cant pay those prices. I believe young people would like to enjoy wine, but they dont have the resources. So, why are we raising prices? If we charge too much, theyll buy tequila or something elseand then were all out of a job. An astute observation. The Hansel wines, besides being delicious, provide excellent value. Bravo!"
Vinous Media 92
"The 2017 Chardonnay The Meadows opens with lovely sweetness, creaminess and breadth, but it has plenty of supporting structure that becomes more apparent on the midpalate and finish. Dried flowers, chamomile, apricot and orchard fruit all meld in this silky, expansive Chardonnay. The 2017 The Meadows should drink well with minimal cellaring."~Antonio Galloni
Walter HanselView all from Walter Hansel
"Walter Hansel was a lifelong wine enthusiast who had the vision to plant his estate's original 250 vines in 1978. Today, Stephen, Walter's son, has taken up where his father left off, pursuing his vision of producing world-class Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, all from the Russian River Valley.
Steve Hansel's friend, famed winemaker Tom Rochioli, helped him in the early stages of his wine education by inviting him to work a couple of harvests at the Rochioli vineyards. Steve performed his first solo attempt in 1996 out of his garage.
At Walter Hansel Winery, the emphasis is on low yields (a miniscule range from 1.5 to 2.7 tons/acre) for greater complexity. Since all their grapes are grown on their own property, they can exercise strict control in the vineyards, which are planted with 5 Pinot and 5 Chardonnay clones. Each clone was chosen for its specific acid and flavor variations.
All of Steve's fruit is hand-harvested, and it is re-examined again at the winery. Hansel makes an average of 9 total passes through each vineyard. Each pass is time consuming and expensive but Stephen feels the vine rewards him with more concentrated flavors.
The winery uses only natural yeast during fermentation. Fining and filtration are minimal. The Pinots are held on the lees without racking for 12 months. The Chardonnays are whole cluster fermented and gently pressed to extract the juice. The cooperage varies from year-to-year, cuvée-to-cuvée, but none of the wine is aged on entirely new oak. One- and two-year-old barrels are always employed."