Alluring spice aromas of sandalwood, anise and black tea weave through the background of pomegranate and baked cherry fruit. The first sip is fresh fruit with a balance of acidity and toasty sweetness that lingers. The texture, round and full, draws you back to experience the evolving layers of earth, spice and meaty flavors.
Only 254 cases of this wine were produced.
89 Points, Wine Enthusiast:
"This Pinot, which was grown on the Hanzell estate, is described by the winery as a barrel selection made to drink now. Yet it shows tight tannins and an astringency that effectively masks the ripe cherry and pomegranate fruit flavors. You’re better off cellaring this wine for a few years. — S.H." (5/1/2011)
"The extraordinary quality of the 2008 vintage started to show just days after fermentation began, with gorgeous aromas pouring out of the fermentors. By the time we put the Pinot Noir to barrel, the clarity of expression—so distinctive of the Hanzell wines—was already beginning to be revealed, and continued to develop until blending. As we tasted through the lots and barrels, in order to assemble our Estate Pinot Noir, there were certain barrels that showed to be more forward and open-textured—perfect for our companion label! This Sebella Pinot Noir captures the classic flavors and aromas of Hanzell with a youthful, accessible structure."
The 2008 vintage is the inaugural release of Sebella Pinot Noir, the companion label to Hanzell's Estate Pinot Noir. 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 Pinot Noir 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 Pinot Noir, 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. The Pinot Noir harvest was a fast and furious three-day affair, starting with the Sessions Vineyard on Aug. 28, moving to the Ambassador's 1953 Vineyard on the 29th, and finishing with the deBrye Vineyard on the 30th.