The 2013 Pinot Noir Three Rows reveals a more gamey, meaty, Burgundian personality with notes of forest floor, underbrush, Asian plum sauce and red cherries. This elegant, spicy 2013 should drink nicely for a decade. Production was only 100 cases. The consistently run Walter Hansel winery (now in the capable hands of Steve Hansel) has over 40 acres of Chardonnay and 40 acres of Pinot Noir, all family-owned. Visitors to the Sonoma Valley, especially the Santa Rosa area, will also enjoy a stop at the Walter Hansel Wine Bar and Bistro on Guernville Road, an excellent venue with a terrific wine list as well as delicious, French-inspired bistro cuisine...The 2013 growing season was ideal, with plenty of warmth, but no heat spikes, which can cause raisining and vineyard stress. The fact that 2013 produced a more European style of wine, especially aromatically, flavor-wise and structurally is largely confirmed over and over again by the high-quality producers in both Napa and Sonoma...In other words, they are made in the classic California style. The Hansel wines follow these tendencies, and if the 2013 ratings are slightly more restrained than the same ratings for the 2012s, it is because the wines are more restrained, and probably will show more with additional time in bottle. Nevertheless, they all received outstanding ratings, and while all of them represent very good bargains, two are exceptional values. (RP)
The 2013 Pinot Noir Three Rows emerges from the oldest block on the property, planted in 1989 with clonal material from Rochioli. Powerful and quite massive today, the Three Rows is going to need time to fully come together. Today it is shy and reticent, although there appears to be plenty of underlying material and promise. Stephen Hansel is one of the most intelligent winery owners in Sonoma. More interested in getting people to drink his wines than in maximizing short-term profit, Hansel continues to offer some of the very best wines readers will find for the money...The Hansel wines capture the essence of the Russian River in their exuberant, forward personalities...The Pinots see a five day cold-soak and are vinified, fully destemmed, in open-top wood fermenters, after which they are aged in French oak, about 60% new. After the large crop of 2012, Hansel dropped a significant amount of fruit in 2013, roughly 60% of the Pinot crop and 30% of the Chardonnay crop. Quality is high across the board and pricing remains incredibly consumer friendly throughout the range, making these some of the most delicious and compelling Sonoma wines readers will come across. Stephen Hansel also runs a number of successful car franchises in the area and clearly has a knack for putting the consumer first. What's not to like? (AG)
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