Walter Hansel Winery is one the preeminent producers of Burgundian style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley. The winery was founded by Walter Hansel who first planted vines in 1978, just down the road from Kistler and Dehlinger. Today the estate is run by Walter’s son, Stephen.
The vineyards are planted with five Chardonnay clones and five Pinot Noir clones, with each clone chosen for its specific acid and flavor variation. There is an emphasis on low yields. The grapes are hand-harvested and an average of nine passes are made through the vineyards, a process that is time consuming and expensive. The winery uses only natural yeast and fining and filtering are minimal. The Pinots are held on the lees for twelve months and the Chardonnays are whole cluster fermented and only gently pressed. Oaking is nuanced with new, one year and two year old barrels used. The final blend of clones is determined by the character of the vintage.
Here’s what the wine press has said about Hansel:
"It is refreshing to taste with proprietor Stephen Hansel. At a time when so many of the world's best wines are increasingly unaffordable for the normal consumer, Hansel has kept his prices decidedly reasonable . . . When I think about Estates that embody the essence of the Russian River Valley, Hansel always comes to mind. Best of all Stephen Hansel has retained a focus on value. Simply put, these are some of the most consumer friendly wines readers will come across anywhere in California." – Antonio Galloni, Vinous
"This is an enviable winery run by Stephen Hansel with exceptionally high-quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, that he sells at modest prices, which speaks to his commitment to serious wine consumers." - Wine Advocate
The Cuvée Alyce bottlings are at the top end of the Hansel lineup. For those who consider say, Kistler, a bit of a stretch, then Hansel is a producer to know. At their typical retail price the wines are already a great buy, but the prices we have today present an exceptional value opportunity.
Walter Hansel Cuvee Alyce Chardonnay 2018
Sale Price: $39.97
Wine Advocate, 95pts. – “The 2018 Chardonnay Cuvée Alyce opens slowly to lovely aromas of warm peaches and apricots with accents of toast, roasted almonds and honey. The medium-bodied palate is silky, super concentrated, layered and fresh, cut through with uplifting mineral character and finishing very, very long. Gorgeous! 1,154 cases produced.”
Vinous, 93pts. – “The 2018 Chardonnay Cuvée Alyce is rich and vivid, yet also light on its feet. A wine of real personality and character, the Alyce is intense and yet not at all heavy. Lemon peel, almond, dried flowers and sweet spice are all nicely lifted in a class, understated Chardonnay that will drink well with minimal cellaring.”
Walter Hansel Cuvee Alyce Pinot Noir 2018
Sale Price: $50.97
Wine Advocate, 96pts. – “Medium ruby-purple in color, the 2018 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce opens slowly to alluring aromas of smoked cranberries, red cherries and black raspberries laced with licorice, bergamot and dried lavender. The palate is medium-bodied and super silky with addicting freshness, absolutely packed with layered, detailed flavors, and it finishes very long and elegant. Wow! 1,012 cases produced.”
Vinous, 93+pts. – “The 2018 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce is bright, floral and super-finessed. This mid-weight, focused Pinot has so much to offer. Red/purplish fruit, blood orange, lavender and spice are all finely-knit Pinot from Hansel. Time in the glass brings out the wine's textural depth and resonance. I would give the 2018 at least a year or two in bottle.”
Past Cellar Selections:
Muga Rioja – Old World and New
Luigi Scavino Azelia Barolo 2016
Clos i Terrasses “Laurel” 2018 - Homage to Garnacha
Canon la Gaffeliere St. Emilion '15 & '16
Keenan Cabernet Reserve 2016 - Cult Wine for the Masses (Ha!)
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias