Text Size:-+

2006 Handley Cellars "Hein Vineyard" Pinot Blanc, Anderson Valley

handley_alsace_bottle.jpgCalifornia's Anderson Valley remains one of its least known and most under-appreciated wine regions. In particular I believe it to be under-appreciated for its Pinot Noir, in particular, and in some cases, its Alsatian varieties of wine. I offer a slight caveat to the latter because while Anderson Valley is certainly known for producing wines in the style and varieties of those found in Alsace, France, in my experience they are mixed in quality.

But when winemakers manage to get things right, Anderson Valley can produce some stunning examples of wines that might, in the right circumstances be mistaken for their Alsatian forbears.

Such is the case with the newest release from a little outfit known as Handley Cellars. Perhaps the best adjective to describe Handley Cellars might be "quaint." This small, family-run operation is located in the heart of the Anderson Valley, just up the road a piece from downtown Philo, at the 19th century Holmes Ranch.

U.C Davis trained winemaker and owner Milla Handley has been making wine since 1982. Handley got her start as a winemaker in the Seventies working at Chateau St. Jean and then later at Edmeades winery when she moved her family to Anderson Valley.

These days, with the help of her family and "co-winemaker" Kristen Barnhisel, who joined Handley in 2004, Handley now produces a modest 14,000 cases a year with fruit from the Anderson Valley estate as well as other sources throughout the valley and further afield. The portfolio includes both a number of Alsatian style wines, Pinot Noir, Sparkling, and dessert wines.

This is the first vintage that Handley has made a Pinot Blanc, however. The fruit is grown on mature vines (planted in the early 90's) in the Hein Vineyard at the northern end of the Anderson Valley.

After harvesting on a cool morning, the grapes for this wine are pressed directly into tanks where it settles for a few days before fermentation begins. After the primary fermentation to dryness, some of the juice (15%) goes into neutral oak barrels, while the rest goes into stainless tanks for about six months. Only a small portion of the wine goes through a secondary, malolactic fermentation before the wine is bottled.

About 400 cases are made.

Full disclosure: I received this wine as a press sample.

Tasting Notes:
Light greenish gold in color, this wine has a nose of cold cream, old paper, and surprisingly, jackfruit. In the mouth, flavors of jackfruit predominate amidst silky textures, nice acidity, and a hint of incense and spiciness on the finish. Utterly lovely.

Food Pairing:
This would be a lovely cheese wine in my opinion, especially with saltier hard cheeses like aged gouda or aged piave.

Overall Score: between 9 and 9.5

How Much?: $20

This wine is available for purchase on the Internet.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Cold Snap Cincinnati Here I Come! Happy Thanksgiving from Vinography Vinography Unboxed: Week of November 23, 2014 Putting a Cork in Your Thanksgiving Wine Anxiety Plumbing the Depths of Portugal: A Tasting Journey Vinography Images: Rain at Last The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries?

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.