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

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


Popped and poured right after I opened the bottle two days ago. Completely undrinkable because there was an incredibly stemmy, green taste to the wine. I’ve often noticed this in Stephen’s 2002s. I also know that if I wait and properly decant for a few hours, this always blows off. Tonight, I revisited the wine after resting for 2 days, and sure enough, with some air, the stemminess is nearly gone. The wine keeps going through so many phases though, that I wonder if it has multiple personality disorder. Started out dark fruited and with classic cola and RRV dirt. Then, it transformed into a much more burgundy-like version with Volnay-like characteristics. Now, it has changed back to a theoretical hybrid between Pommard and RRV with tannin rusticity and leafiness I associate with Pommard and plum fruit and earthiness that I associate with RRV. The only commonality to this point has been the racy acidity and freshness of the wine. Will undoubtedly keep changing for hours to come and I think that this particular wine has (dare I say it) at least 5 more years to get to its optimal drinking window and at least another 5 years beyond that to perform at plateau. This stuff is showing so young, it’s scary. Textbook example of an RRV Pinot that can age…for a long time.

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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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