Vineyard: Walter Hansel Estate Vineyard-Russian River Valley
Soil: Goldridge loam soils with more clay in the Alyce block
Viticulture: Hand harvested, manually sorted
Vinification: The Pinot Noir is destemmed and fermented using only native yeasts.
Aging: Aged all in French oak with approximately 50% new
Notes: The Cuvee Alyce is a blend of the top barrels for the vintage. It varies from vintage to vintage but generally comes from a heavy clay portion of the vineyard that is planted to clone 777.
Publication: Wine advocate
Publication: Wine Spectator
The 2013 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce, which is made from a field blend of Dijon clones 115 and 777, is also backward and restrained. I can totally understand Stephen Hansel’s statement that the 2013 Pinots are very European with their reserved character. This is a big wine, dense, ruby in color, with terrific fruit intensity, but the tannins still dominate, and the wine has good acidity and a backward personality. It’s not austere by any means and should blossom fully with another 1-2 years of bottle age. It could turn out to be a low- to mid-90 pointer. It’s certainly capable of lasting at least a decade.
Some of the best values in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir emerge from Stephen Hansel’s winery in the Russian River Valley. He also has the wonderful Walter Hansel Wine & Bistro on Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa.
Hansel reduced the crop size by 20%-30% through crop thinning in 2014 because of irregular berry size and improved the level of concentration. All of the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are bottled unfiltered.
The 2013 Pinot Noirs, which Stephen Hansel described as more European and restrained than the 2012s, were all bottled unfined and unfiltered and are just now beginning to strut their stuff. All represent excellent value in Pinot Noir.
The 2013 Pinot Noir Cuvée Alyce is quite beautiful today, with gorgeous complexity, plenty of depth and fabulous overall balance. Game, smoke, tobacco and licorice add nuance to a core of expressive red-toned fruits. Today, I see a little less than in the some of the other wines, the North Slope in particular, but that is really splitting hairs at this level.