2002 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir The North Slope (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley)

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California, Red Wine, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, USA


This one’s going to require some explanations…I opened this on Monday night. I then decanted it for a couple of hours. When I poured it, it was fizzy with secondary fermentation, and had a bitter green streak on the finish. I could have easily justified pouring this down the drain at that point. Instead, I decided to re-cork and put back in the cellar. Fast forward to tonight…when I re-opened the wine, it was still fizzy when first poured, but with just minutes of air time, the fizziness was gone. The bitter green streak on the palate took a little longer to resolve, but it’s now mostly gone, too, with the exception of a hint of it. What’s left is a tremendously aromatic wine the (moderately bretty) nose of which just jumps out of the glass and grabs you. The nose actually seems like a cross between a young Burgundy and a mature Chateauneuf du Pape. Medium bodied for a Pinot, this has tremendous spice and orange zest, loads of plum and earth, and a long, structured finish. Although I wouldn’t vote it the best food wine ever, this is drinking beautifully on its own tonight and I dare say this needs another few years to be at peak. In my estimation, this is still 3-4 years from its apogee.

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I am not a professional wine taster, nor do I have any professional training in the wine trade. I am a wine enthusiast who has spent countless hours tasting wines of many different styles. My palate is not aligned with a single wine critic, and I call all wines "as I taste them". My site is a source of tasting notes and wine recommendations as well as warnings without conflict of interest. You'll just have to figure out how your palate aligns with mine. My palate generally tends to veer towards Old-World wines that put a premium on terroir and lovely balance and finesse, rather than raw power...please keep that in mind as you read my notes.

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