Broad and forward initial aromas of pear, nectarine, honeysuckle and wet stone evolve to clove, vanilla and tropical notes of guava and pineapple. Flavors of lemon curd, mineral and vanilla unfold into a long, dry, and crisp finish. The texture and structure is "classic young Hanzell" ... rich on the palate and keenly balanced by vibrant acidity.
92 Points, Wine Enthusiast:
"Hanzell says this Sebella Chardonnay is meant to drink now, while their regular Chardonnay, which is famously ageable, develops in the cellar. That’s strange logic, because the wine is so close to the regular Chardonnay as to be nearly indistinguishable. It’s bone dry, crisply acidic and minerally, with citrus, green apple and pear flavors. Give it 3–5 years. — S.H." (5/1/2011)
"In my 20 plus years of winemaking, I had never tasted grapes with such intensity. Despite the diminutive size of many of the clusters, they had explosively powerful flavor! As always during harvest, I was a bit anxious; however, each time I heard Bob Sessions exclaim from the sorting table, 'gorgeous! ... beautiful! … yummy!' my confidence grew until there was no doubt that this indeed would be an exemplary vintage."
87 Points, Wine Spectator:
"Clean, fresh and delicate, displaying spicy pear, melon and light cedar notes. Complex on a modest scale. Drink now through 2013. 790 cases made. –JL" (6/15/2011)
Sebella is the companion label to Hanzell's Estate Chardonnay. Lovingly named after the owner's children (Sebastian and Isabella), Sebella was created by following old world Grand Cru Domaine and First Growth Chateau classification philosophies. Once the Estate Chardonnay is blended, the winemaker reserves select barrels to craft a wine we may bring to table and enjoy serving now. This philosophy allows time for the Estate Chardonnay, with its balance, intensity and structure, to age gracefully in collectors' cellars.
A fairly warm and dry winter coaxed the vines to an early budbreak in the spring of 2008. As the young shoots climbed sun-ward, worry increased. The grip of winter returned in what turned out to be a record number of frost days in March and April. Hanzell escaped damage due to their steep slopes. The cold air flowed off our mountainside, settling in the valley floor below.
A brief heat wave came during bloom, causing significant shatter and what the French call millerandage -- where a portion of the berries that do set are seedless and less than half of normal size. The smaller berries mean a higher skin-to-juice ratio, hence greater flavor intensity. These reduced volumes, while disheartening to the accountant, bring smiles to the winemakers.
Temperatures remained elevated through August and drove the tiny crop to full ripeness. Harvest began Aug. 21 in the Zellerbach C98 block. After four days of slightly cooler weather, the heat returned, requiring Hanzell to pick immediately. The harvest crew made its march across the Estate, finishing Sept. 3.