From: Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Country, California, USA
Industrialist James D. Zellerbach acquired the 200 acre Hanzell estate on the Mayacamas slopes above the town of Sonoma in 1948, and in 1952 he planted 2 acres of Pinot Noir and 4 acres of Chardonnay on the site. The Ambassador's ambition was to create a small vineyard and winery dedicated to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Zellerbachs created the first vintage in 1957 and named their winery Hanzell, a contraction of Mrs. Hana Zellerbach's name.
Zellerbach hired Ralph Bradford Webb in 1956 to be his winemaker and Webb would be integral to the winemaking for the first two decades of Hanzell. Webb introduced four significant advances in enology that would subsequently be adopted by many other wineries, predicating consistency and quality for the entire industry -temperature-controlled fermentation, the use of French Oak barrels, the practice of "blanketing" young wines in tank with inert gas and the practice of induced malolactic fermentation.
The original 6 acre vineyard has grown to 42 acres today, allowing Hanzell to produce 6,000 cases annually: three-quarters Chardonnay and one-quarter Pinot Noir, retaining its identity as a very small winery dedicated to making the Burgundian varietals at the Grand Cru level.
Currently revitalizing Hanzell with a regenerative organic farming and ecosystem focused program, Jason Jardine is continuing the legacy of innovation and dedication to quality that the Zellerbachs began. Not to mention they currently care for and benefit from the oldest producing Pinot Noir vines in the Western Hemisphere.
Tasting Notes: A fabulous and exciting Chard. It's a big wine, with powerful pear, tropical fruit and oriental spice flavors, and well oaked. But it's balanced with clean acidity, and feels elegant all the way through. This is a wine with a history of aging well. Drink now, but will hold and improve for at least ten years.
94 Points -Wine Enthusiast
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