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Hanzell Vineyards was founded in 1952 by James D. Zellerbach. He was a wealthy financier, Ambassador, and a member of La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, a group that has long pledged appreciation and to promote the wines of the Burgundy region of France. As many will know, these unparalleled wines are based on two grapes, chardonnay and pinot noir. Zellerbach set out to craft wines in California based on the wines he loved from the famed French region. Such was his devotion to the project that he even modeled the winery after the renowned Clos du Vougeot, where many of the Confrérie tastings took place and whose wines undoubtedly held a special place in his heart alongside the already mythical wines of Romanée-Conti.
This chardonnay is harvested from multiple vineyards including the Ambassador’s 1953 Vineyard. Winemaker Michael McNeill allows a two-hour soak of the skins to extract flavor and complexity. Then the wine is fermented, 62% in stainless steel tanks and the rest in barrels; this latter portion had the lees stirred to draw out richness, as well as undergoing malolactic conversion. It was aged for a year in small French oak barrels. The profile here will range from lemon curd, to baked stone fruit to some tropical notes. The texture is generous and full, with just enough citrus notes to balance which helps to carry the finish on the palate. While this wine will be enjoyed by those seeking a fruit forward, traditionally styled chardonnay, it will also reward those who allow it to age and develop some secondary notes.