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."

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Walter Hansel 'The Meadows' Chardonnay 2015
94  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 94 "The 2015 season resulted in tiny clusters and small berries with production levels off by a minimum of 25%. The following 2015s will be bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2015 Chardonnay the Meadows Vineyard is in the northern part of the Hansel estate and at their lowest

Walter Hansel 'South Slope' Pinot Noir 2015
96  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 96 "Made from 100% Dijon clone 777, the 2015 Pinot Noir South Slope had the largest yields of any of the parcels in 2015, although still way below normal production. The deepest color of many of these Pinot Noirs, the wine has loads of damp earth, spice box and forest floor, this is a

Walter Hansel 'Estate' Chardonnay 2015
(1)
94  Wine Advocate 
Wine Advocate 94 "The 2015 season resulted in tiny clusters and small berries with production levels off by a minimum of 25%. The following 2015s will be bottled unfined and unfiltered. The 2015 Chardonnay Estate is a killer bargain at $25.00 a bottle. The wine is a blend of the 95, 76 and the

Walter Hansel Pinot Noir 'Estate' 2015
94  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 94 "The 2015 Pinot Noir The Estate Vineyard boasts off the charts intensity, richness and texture. Soaring aromatics and a core of dark red and bluish fruit are front and center. Racy and voluptuous to the core, the Estate captures all the intensity of this vintage. This is a dazzling

Walter Hansel 'The Meadows' Chardonnay 2014
92  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 92"The 2014 Chardonnay The Meadows is all about richness, power and intensity, both in its sweetness through the middle and more tropically leaning flavors. Mango, pineapple, honey, butter, roasted almonds and dried flowers meld into the textured, inviting finish."~Antonio Galloni

Walter Hansel 'South Slope' Pinot Noir 2014
95  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 95 "Hansel's 2014 Pinot Noir The South Slope Vineyard is bold and explosive, with tons of exuberant fruit. Bright red cherry, plum, rose petal and spice are front and center. A classic Russian River Pinot, the South Slope is absolutely gorgeous today. Hints of leather, tobacco and game

Walter Hansel 'Estate' Chardonnay 2014
91  Robert Parker 
Vinous Media 91 "Hansel's 2014 Chardonnay The Estate Vineyard is arguably the single best value in California Chardonnay. Bright, focused and delineated, the 2014 shows all the energy of the vintage along with the richness that is typical of Russian River Chardonnay. Proprietor Stephen Hansel has

Walter Hansel 'The Meadows' Chardonnay 2013
(1)
93  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 93 "The 2013 Chardonnay The Meadows has a real sense of phenolic weight and density, yet the flavors remain bright, focused and beautifully nuanced throughout. Lemon peel, hazelnut, butter, spice and mint blossom as this beautifully textured, layered Chardonnay shows off its notable

Walter Hansel 'Cuvée Alyce' Chardonnay 2013
94  Vinous Media 
Vinous Media 94 "The 2013 Chardonnay Cuvée Alyce is a great example of the Hansel house style. Rich, textured and voluptuous to the core, the 2013 boasts stunning depth and pure resonance. Honey, white flowers, butter, orange blossoms and an element of exoticism on the creamy finish. What a

Walter Hansel 'Estate' Chardonnay 2013
91  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 91 "There are 1,260 cases of the 2013 Chardonnay Estate, a great bargain. At a retail price of $25 a bottle, it is hard to get more flavor and complexity in a Chardonnay than this cuvée possesses. Notes of poached pear, honeysuckle and white peach notes are offered in an elegant,

Walter Hansel 'Estate' Chardonnay 2012
93  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 93 "The 2012 Chardonnay Estate, from a vineyard planted in 1976 and 1989, was aged in 38% new Francois Freres barrels, and goes through malolactic with lees stirring for about 6-8 weeks. Another terrific value, this 1,000-case beauty exhibits lots of white peach, honeyed citrus,

Walter Hansel 'The Meadows' Chardonnay 2012
92  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 92 "The least expensive Chardonnay (and it’s a heck of a value) is the 2012 Chardonnay The Meadows. Made entirely from the Hanzell clone of Chardonnay planted in sandy Goldridge soils, it sees about 40% new oak, goes through full malolactic, and is stirred on its lees. A

Walter Hansel 'Cahill Lane' Pinot Noir 2007
92  Robert Parker 
Robert Parker 90-92 "Beautiful black raspberry and black cherry fruit as well as forest floor jump from the glass of the 2007 Pinot Noir Cahill Lane. Made from Dijon clones 115 and 114, as well as some of the Rochioli heritage clone, this is a full-bodied beauty, with medium ruby/plum color, lots