2015 Sonoma Valley Estate Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Hanzell Vineyards
California: Sonoma County: Sonoma Valley
What if I told you…
The Chardonnay you know is probably a lie that had been pulled over your eyes to deceive you?
That you were missing the TRUTH? And that we had the truth, here today at a mind-numbing 55% savings? With Wine Advocate 93+ and 94 points from Jeb Dunnuck.
We’re talking about the legendary Hanzell of course.
A reference point. A benchmark. A wine for anyone wanting to experience Chardonnay in its purest form, from serious collectors to the casually wine-curious out there - this is your chance.
Since 1953 Hanzell has made dazzling, Meursault-esque Chardonnay from the Mayacamas Range on Sonoma Mountain. Crafted from some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in California, these age-defying wines last DECADES. As Jancis Robinson attests: “The Chardonnays of Hanzell are known for their brilliant ageing ability and Wine Spectator called them “the model of Burgundian elegance.”
The blueprint started with original owner James Zellerbach, and winemaker Bob Sessions who made the wines for 33 years. They built the foundation for a legacy that remains strong today. Antonio Galloni gets us all caught up: “Jason Jardine, previously at Rhys and Flowers, crafts, these classically leaning wines… doing fabulous work at Hanzell.”
Agent Noir has a soft spot for Hanzell. Many moons ago he was at Martini House, a St. Helena landmark famous for its legendary wine list. The young sommelier found out that a local buyer was dining. So, he came by, all puffed up, with a ‘blind glass’ to impress himself, his crew and Noir’s company. Noir took a whiff, not even a sip, and immediately said Hanzell Chardonnay. The somm’s puffy pretension changed to amazement. While easy to mistake it for a Meursault or a Montrachet, it was that distinctive sense of place, that intense Sonoma Valley hillsides sunshine.
In fact, Agent Noir dug out a 1995 from his stash to put up against this 2015 side by side, with the aim to assess the mythical aging potential of Hanzell Chardonnays. With 20 years apart, these two could not be more different, yet still the similarities are mindboggling.
The 1995 is a much, much deeper, yet still brilliant and bright gold, with the mildest amber in the core. The nose draws a dreamlike parallel to the 2015 believe it or not, with similar lemon tones, but with a whole lot more of a developed dimension of course, accentuating the hazelnuts with sweet spice, a darker toast, and a caramel edge. The same dizzying finish takes over, with even creamier integration throughout the fantastically complex mouthfeel. The last note on CellarTracker dating back 7 years, nails it: “Phenomenal California Chardonnay, right up there with Corton Charlemagne.”
The 2015 shows a near colorless platinum with the palest shimmer of white gold. Beautifully perfumed with white flowers, citrus blossoms, and all kinds of lemon - rind to pith - verbena to merengue. But that’s not all! Maui Gold pineapple, white peach, minerals, and faint hazelnuts, too. The palate opens up with zippy acidity, juicy granny smith apples against a backdrop of green papaya, and toasty brioche. Perplexingly refreshing while being simultaneously creamy, with superb length and the brightest of seamless, ethereal balance one could hope for in white wine. Best in a few years, but perfectly enjoyable now. Especially with a white truffle flatbread with arugula tossed in a citrus Dijon dressing.
As Morpheus said to Neo “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Hanzell is. You have to taste it for yourself.”
So… what’s it gonna be? Will you take the golden pill with us today and break into the multidimensional world of Hanzell?
All it takes is one bottle.
PS: Noir does have one last bottle of this 1995, and he promised to share it with the Operative who buys most of this 2015, so collectors and connoisseurs, this is the one to go the extra mile with!
94 Points – Jeb Dunnuck
“Showing beautifully, the 2015 Chardonnay offers a touch of maturity in its caramelized peach, pineapple, flora, and toasted bread-like aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied and beautifully textured on the palate, it has plenty of fruit, a solid spine of acidity, and a clean, mineral-laced finish. This is just a beautiful Chardonnay from Sonoma that’s drinking at point today yet will evolve nicely for another 5-7 years. Drink 2020-2027.”
93+ Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“The 2015 Chardonnay is a little reticent to begin, slowing unfurling to reveal lemon tart, apple pie and nectarine notions with hints of honeyed toast, cashews and orange blossoms. The medium-bodied palate is refreshing and elegantly styled with many citrus and stone fruit layers accented by savory suggestions and a satiny texture, finishing long and mineral laced. Drink 2018-2025.”
Near-colorless platinum with the palest shimmer of white gold
White flowers, citrus blossoms, all kinds of lemon, rind to pith, verbena to merengue, Maui Gold pineapple, white peach, minerals, faint hazelnuts
The palate is a whole new ballgame with zippy acidity, juicy granny smith apples against a backdrop of green papaya, and toasty brioche
Perplexingly refreshing, simultaneously creamy, with superb length and the brightest of seamless, ethereal balance one could hope for
While this will be best in a few years still, opening it today will need a white truffle base flatbread with arugula tossed in a citrus dressing
What the Winery Says
- Jason Jardine
- 100% Chardonnay
- Sonoma Valley, Sonoma County
- Vineyard plots
- de Brye, Zellerbach, Day, Ramos, Ambassador’s 1953
- Red Hill Series and Raynor-Montara clay-loam (volcanic)
- 500-830 feet above sea level
- Hanzell, Old Wente, Robert Young, Dijon 76, Dijon 95, Hyde, Prosser
- Average vine age
- 30 years
- Total acidity
- 7.0 g/L
- Harvest dates
- August 13 - August 21, 2015
- Brix at harvest
- Bottling date
- May 17 - May 23, 2017
- 12 months
- 60-gallon neutral French oak