2003 Walter Hansel Winery Pinot Noir Cahill Lane (USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley)

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


I was making sockeye salmon tonight and thought this would be a pleasant companion for the meal. Little did I know that this would in fact steal the show and relegate the admittedly very tasty salmon to the peanut gallery. I’ve always liked Stephen’s 2003s, but this bottle was ethereal. Funky and earthy on the nose right on opening. As has been the case with most of the 2003s I’ve tasted over the years, this came out of the bottle with just a little spritz to it, but with 5-10 minutes of air, it dissipated completely, as usual. Dark red color, yet a very bright cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruit profile. A little spice and fruit cake along with barnyard and earth on the palate. To top it off, this has the typical orange zest flavor that I associate with Walter Hansel’s Pinot. It’s not burgundy, but it has a wonderfully natural acidity that backs up the very silky fruit. The only concern is that with air, this seems to gain weight right now, and I don’t particularly like that. Was at its best when I first opened it, and I think it has years of ageability left in the tank to shed some more of the fruit and bring out even more earth and acidity. California Pinot Noir at its finest.

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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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