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Chasseur

Owner(s) William Hunter, Alex P. Bartholomous
Web site www.chasseurwines.com
 
Link to this site

Bill Hunter is one of the “Wild Men of West County,” the band of winemakers interested in the Pinot Noir grown in far western Russian River Valley and true Sonoma Coast around the towns of western Sebastopol, Freestone, and Occidental. Hunter developed an early interest in wine working as a wine steward at the Chronicle Restaurant in Pasadena, California. The Chronicle Restaurant was famous for its wine cellar and some of its rarest bottles had come from the acquisition of the private collection of Alfred Hitchcock. I went to this restaurant on a number of occasions and probably ran into Hunter during my formative wine loving days. He went on to enroll and graduate from University California Davis (1987), and gained his early winemaking experience at Rombauer, Bonny Doon and Chauffe-Eau Cellars. In 1994 he began making some wine on the side, starting with two barrels of Dutton Chardonnay and one barrel of Carneros Pinot Noir. Soon he started his own label, Chasseur, the French term for Hunter. In 2002, he brought on Alex P. Bartholomaus, Managing Director of Billington Imports as an investment partner, and Hunter was able to devote himself fully to winemaking at Chsseur.

Chasseur produces 2,700 cases of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Vin Gris at a winery in Sebastopol, located inside the old Vacu-Dry apple processing plant on Gravenstein Highway. Hunter is basically a one-man operation.

The lineup includes 6-8 single vineyard Pinot Noirs from purchased grapes. The wines are well crafted and balanced, but can be similar since all vineyard sources are planted to similar Dijon clones. Two appellation Pinot Noirs are also made including a Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast bottling.

Chasseur wines are highly allocated and sold primarily through a mailing list. The two appellation Pinot Noirs are produced in larger quantities and are available in the fine wine retail market throughout the United States. Declassified wine was bottled under a second label, Cazar, replaced in 2011 by the Vria Cote label. The website is quite informative. Chasseur operates under the LLC, Hunter Wine Cellars.

Tasting is by appointment on Fridays (schedule by e-mail: info@chasseurwines.com). The phone number is 707-829-1941.

Reviewed Wines

2010 Chasseur Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.61, 393 cases, $40. Unfined and unfiltered. Sourced from Holder, Ferguson and Sylvia’s vineyards. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Hi-tone aromas of fresh cherry pie glaze. Middleweight flavors of black cherries, cola, and subtle oak, noticeable on the attack and carrying over to the finish. Good concentration without weight. A solid appellation wine. Good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Chasseur Blank Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.65, TA 0.59, 118 cases, $60. Blank Road Vineyard is a collaboration between William Hunter and Kenneth Goodin. Clones 115 and 777.Aged 10 months in 67% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. More rugged, with darker fruits and more tannin. Aromas of blackberries and wooded forest. Flavors of black plum, black currant and tar with a good cut of acidity on the finish. Softly textured and well-crafted, but doesn’t quite deliver the flavor of other wines in the 2010 Chasseur lineup. Good (+). Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.68, TA 0.71, 117 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Cleary & Dutton familes of Freestone Station Vineyard. Clones 114, 115 and 667. Aged 10 months in 67% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Fruit veers to the ripe side but never reaches over ripeness. Aromas of black cherries, forest floor, wet stones and anise. Mid weight flavors of dark red cherries and berries with accents of cherry cola, sassafras and cardamom spice. On the delicate side and light on its feet with admirable balance, picking up intensity and interest over time in the glass. A tad shallow on the finish. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Chasseur Holder Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., pH 3.63, TA 0.59, 77 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Holder family of Holder Vineyard. Aged 10 months in 67% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of dark red and black cherries and berries with a hint of oak spice. Tasty essence of darker cherries and purple berries with a dash of sassafras and cola. Soft in the mouth and very enjoyable with mild, dry tannins, well integrated oak, and some finishing length. Very good. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Chasseur Sexton Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.69, TA 0.57, 100 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and Jim Pratt from Cornerstone Vineyard on Sexton Road. Dijon clones 113, 114 and 115. Aged 10 months in 67% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. The intoxicating nose really draws you into the glass with explosive aromas of Bing cherries and exotic spices. Delicious cherry essence with riffs of cola and spice. Ethereal, seamless and a wine that makes you sit up and take notice. Wow! The pick of the litter. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., ph 3.66, TA 0.61, 266 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and Davic Umino of Umino Vineyard. Aged 10 months in 67% new French oak barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · Moderately dark reddish-purple hue in the glass. The scents of black cherries and dusty oak jump out of the glass. Very soft and smooth on the palate with a deep cherry flavor. A polished wine that is very Russian River Valley in character but with the typical lush fruit reigned in a bit for more charm. Tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, the wine was still exceptional. Beautifully crafted and one special wine. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Cazar Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.5% alc., $19. From several Sonoma Coast vineyards. · Moderately deep reddish-purple color in the glass. Overriding the appealing aromas of dark berry jam and black grapes are notes of tobacco, hay and grass (the kind you smoke). This carries over on the palate with blackberry and plum flavors accented by notes of grass, herbs and stem. Moderately dense fruit, silky smooth, and nicely balanced with some hi-tone fruit on the lingering finish. Decent. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Cazar Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., $18. · Well spiced Bing cherries on the nose. Medium-weighted dried cherry, rhubarb and oak flavors. Savory herbs and earth notes add interest. Smoothly textured with a crisp finish. A pretty good drink that is clean, tasty, and a steal for the tab. Widely available in the retail market. Decent (+). Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Holder Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 75 cases, $50. Dijon clones 115 and 667. · This wine offers the most charming aromatics in the lineup with aromas of black cherry tart, spice and oak bark. Intense and dense charge of black cherry and plum fruit with complimentary spice and cola accents. Almost black cherry liquor in intensity but not syrupy. This one is all about amazing fruit that persists on the finish for at least a minute. The tannins are supple and proportioned well to the generous fruit, while the acidity seems slightly overwhelmed, failing to bring the fruit to a high pitch. This one will have fans among Caliesque fruit hedonists. Very good. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Rayhill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 125 cases, $55. Dijon clones 115, 667and 777. · The nose is not forthcoming offering only subtle whiffs of fruit, oak and redwood. Moderately intense and tasty essence of dark red cherries and berries with some persistence on the finish. Nicely balanced t n’a. A fruit driven wine that is well-rounded and picks up interest over time in the glass. Definitely cellar this one. Very Good. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Sexton Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., 150 cases, $55. Dijon clones 113, 114 and 115. · Aromas of spice box, leaf and tar with very shy fruit. Tasty dark cherry and berry core with an alluring spice component. Soft tannins and bright acidity. Despite the high alcohol, not excessively sweet or cloying. Hard to ignore the luscious fruit. Good. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Blank Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 250 cases, $60. Dijon clones 115 and 777 cropped at 2.2 tons per acre at Blank Road Vineyard. · On the nose there are shy dark red raspberries and strawberries with whiffs of anise, oak and campfire. Tangy array of raspberry and pomegranate flavors with a green note in the background and a mineral streak. Harmonious tannins and zippy acidity. Decent. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Joyce Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 225 cases, $60. Dijon clones 115 and 777. · Appealing scent of pie cherries, berry jam and a hint of allspice. Nice array of cherry and berry fruits that really grab hold, wrapped in firm, mouth-coating tannins and persisting on the finish that has a bit of a sauvage character. Impressive expression of layered fruit here. Very good. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 150 cases, $60. Dijon clones 115, 777, 667 and 459. · The nose is closed for business but with extensive swirling reveals scents of dark berry jam, oak and pine needle. Linear essence of dark raspberries, strawberries and cherries with generous oak. Pretty ordinary. May develop more interest with cellaring. Decent. Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Holder Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 75 cases, $50. From a 1.5-acre vineyard in the Green Valley farmed by Bruce Holder and Mary Ann Wheeler. One mile east of the town of Occidental, the planting includes clones 667 and 115 (2000). · An impressive wine that begins with lovely aromas of black cherries, spice, dark chocolate and a hint of smoke. Tasty black cherry and black raspberry essence with a sweet edge, leaving a lush impression in the mouth. Perfectly balanced with fine tannins and a pleasing tang on the finish. Angelic. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Rayhill Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 100 cases, $50. Unfined, unfiltered. · Sticking your nose in this beauty reveals layers of constantly changing aromas including black fruits, spice box, forest floor, earth, oak char, and floral accents. Big-boned but smooth and velvety in the mouth featuring a mouth filling and lingering rush of dark stone fruits and blackberries complimented by an earthy undertone. The finish is long and lush. A hedonistic wine nicely composed and balanced that aims to please. POP 94, WS 96. Reviewed January 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Sexton Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., 200 cases, $55. From the Cornerstone Vineyard on Sexton Road planted by James Pratt to clones 113, 114, 115, 777 and 828 in 2000. The vineyard is 500 feet above the town of Freestone. · Unusual aromatic profile featuring black raspberry jam, dried mustard, fennel and Chinese Five-spice. Discreetly concentrated fruit core of berries and perfectly ripe plums that coats the mouth with a velvety richness. Hard to stop drinking this smooth and sensual wine. Very good (+). Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Blank Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 275 cases, $60. From the Blank Road Vineyard owned by Kenneth Goodin and planted and managed by Jim Pratt beginning in 2001. Clones 115 and 777. · The nose is a bit flat and stinky showing black cherry fruit and oak. Very subdued initially but builds in richness in the glass. Fruit-driven and one-dimensional and difficult to cozy up to now. Try again in a year. Decent. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 375 cases, $60. Freestone Station Vineyard is owned by the Cleary family and farmed by the Dutton family. Situated in Freestone. Clones 115, 777, 23 and Pommard. Low yielding vineyard harvested late in October. · Plenty going on in the nose with aromas of black raspberries, blackberries, red grapes, rhubarb, spice and complimentary oak. Tasty dark red berry fruit that is silky and viscous in the mouth with a long, clean finish. This wine gets better and better in the glass over time. Very good (+). Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Joyce Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 100 cases, $60. From the Joyce Vineyard farmed by Charlie Chenoweth. 3 acres on a ridge south of Freestone planted to clones 115 and 777. · Enticing scents of berries and cherries highlighted by notes of forest floor and pine. Rich core of juicy dark cherry, berry and plum fruit leaning to the dark red side. The texture is all silk and satin and the tannins are supple. Great now, but withholding some of its potential. It should improve with cellaring because the balance is spot-on. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Sylvia’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.7% alc., 100 cases, $60. From a tiny .9-acre vineyard owned and farmed by the Dutton family. Planted in 1994 on a ridge above the town of Graton in Goldridge soils. Clone 115. · A ripe style with flavors of ripe plums and berries, raisin, root beer and port. Wellcrafted, easy to drink, but stewed fruit, even when slight as in this wine, is not my thing. Decent. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.0% alc., 250 cases, $60. From David Umino’s 11-acre vineyard southwest of Sebastopol on Blucher Valley Road. Planted to Dijon 115, 667, 777 and 459 in 1997. A vineyard-designate bottling since the 2006 vintage. · Aromas of dark berries with a toasted oak and subtle anise edge. Well-defined earth-kissed dark fruits with complimentary oak flavors. Soft, dry tannins and a finish that sails along smoothly. Very good. Reviewed December 16, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Chasseur Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 825 cases, $36-$40. Aged 15 months in oak. · Nice Pinot aromas of Bing cherry, baking spice and barnyard. Light, elegant and demure in the mouth revealing red berry and red cherry flavors accentuated with savory herbs. Soft in the mouth with a clean and somewhat persistent finish. Very drinkable, but may lack punch for serious fruit lovers. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Chasseur Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 620 cases, $36-$40. Primarily multiple Dijon clones with a little Swan selection. Aged 17 months in barrel. · Rich and heady nose showing ripe dark berries and cherries and a complimentary hint of oak. More fruit and more interest than the Russian River Valley bottling. This wine speaks more of the soil with more herbs, more sinew, and more grainy tannin along with mineral-imbibed dark fruits. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 300 barrels, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and the Dutton Family. · Commendable nose of red cherries, sassafras and oak evolving with time to reveal herbs and toast. Dark red fruited and delicately oaked. Brisk and refreshing with soft dry tannins and a hint of citrus and oak on the bright and polished finish. A harmonious wine of some interest. Reviewed January 1, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Chasseur Umino Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 400 cases, $60. A collaboration between William Hunter and David Umino. · Nicely composed and heady aromatics featuring black cherry, savory herbs and a hint of oak. A saucy and fat core of cherries and berries with bright acidity, a smooth texture, ending with a mildly disagreeable oaky and astringent aftertaste. Reviewed January 1, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Chasseur Sonoma Coast Vin Gris

14.2% alc., 100 cases. · Very pretty light peach color. Interesting aromas of berries, lemon peel, marzipan, and oak. Stone fruits on the palate with citric zest. Seems to have lost its fresh edge and now tastes a bit old with a hint of sherry flavor. A wine to enjoy on release. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Chasseur Freestone Station Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 150 cases, $60 (sold out). Clones 115, 777 and 23. Aged 15 months in barrel. · Unusual, but pleasurable, aromatic profile of black cherry jam, gingerbread, almonds and smoke. An earthy wine featuring dark stone fruits and cola flavors presented in a softly textured style. Nicely balanced. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Chasseur Sexton Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 150 cases, $60 (sold out). This wine is a collaboration between Bill Hunter and grower James Pratt. Dijon clones 113, 114, 115, 777, and 828. Aged 15 months in oak. · Hi-toned and complex aromas of crushed black cherries, smoke, tobacco, herbs (sage), grass, and a hint of warmth. This wine shows the burly and primal side of Pinot Noir with intense and super ripe dark fruits (even tending to raisin and prune flavors), wrapped in a earthy, mushroom flavored cloak. The finish retains some lively acidity and lingers for a very long time. This one leans toward the Cab camp and will appeal to lovers of ripe fruit flavors. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Chasseur Sylvia’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 100 cases, $60 (sold out). A collaboration between Bill Hunter and the Dutton Family. · Very appealing wild berry, chocolate, and char scents leading to a full array of red fruits and attention grabbing baking spice. An elegant wine that is only marred by a hint of green tomato and stem which tends to dissipate with time in the glass. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2005 Chasseur Twin Hill Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 75 cases, $60 (sold out). Aged 15 months in barrel. A collaboration between Bill Hunter and Benjamin Hurst. · Perfumed with cherry candy, violets, cinnamon and oak. Redder Pinot fruits with savory herbs and spice. Seamless and all silk and satin. Tangy acidity brings up the finish. The most charming wine of the lineup to drink now and the one to take to the dance this weekend. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »