2015 Hanzell Vineyards, Chardonnay, $60
Winery info: Hanzell was founded in 1953 by Ambassador James Zellerbach (who helped craft the Marshall Plan after World War II). After extensive time in Burgundy, he returned to California with a love for the Burgundian grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, and began planting those varietals, at a time when there were few other plantings of them in North America. Today the winery, located at the southern edge of the Mayacamas Mountains overlooking the Sonoma Valley, has 46 acres of vineyards dedicated to heritage clones. Hanzell remains an iconic California winery to this day.
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay from seven clones (Hanzell, Old Wente, Robert Young, Dijon 76, Dijon 95, Hyde, and Prosser) from vines averaging 29 years in age. Fermented 62% in stainless-steel and 38% in barrel, with partial malolactic fermentation. Aged one year in large French oak.
Vineyards: de Brye, Zellerbach, Day, Ramos, and Ambassador’s 1953 Vineyards, all in the Sonoma Valley.
Flavor Profile: A prominent wine writer has called Hanzell’s Chard “Sonoma’s version of a Puligny-Montrachet.” Not modern in style, it is elegant and luxurious with floral notes and rich flavors of orchard fruit. The use of oak is judicious and the creaminess is balanced by mouthwatering acidity and minerality. A seamless wine of great intensity and finesse with an endless finish.
Availability: This vintage is still in decent supply.
Drinkability: Enjoy anytime over the next three years or so.
Food Pairing: It would be great with roast chicken or veggies, or with fresh trout in a richer sauce.
2016 Santos Brujos, Tempranillo, $37
Winery info: Santos Brujos is a boutique winery founded by Sergio Salgado Vidal in 2006 in Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe. Winemaking in this northern Baja region dates back over 200 years. Santos Brujos is located about ten miles from the Pacific Ocean where they farm organically and biodynamically (they are one of the few wineries in the region that has taken the steps to become certified). They produce their wines in a natural style, with native yeast fermentation and no added sulfites. Their winemaker, Luis Peciña Garcia is originally from Rioja and now makes his home in Valle de Guadalupe.
Grapes: 100% Tempranillo, aged in 80% French and 20% American oak barrels.
Vineyard: All of their fruit comes from their estate vineyards, with sandy soils.
Flavor Profile: Very elegant and expressive, with complex aromas of berries and plum, and toasty, savory notes of coffee, earth, spice and a touch of leather.
Availability: Their total production is less than 2000 cases. More of this vintage will be coming from Mexico in the next few weeks, as well as some from 2017.
Drinkability: If drinking soon, decant 30 minutes to an hour before serving. It is unfiltered and will have some sediment, so pour it gently. It should continue to develop over the next ten years.
Food Pairing: The importer recommends grilled red meat, grilled or roasted pork, tapas (even with some spice), chicken fajitas, Basque-style lentils, or tacos containing any of the above.