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 Award-Winning Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Instagram Delectable Flipboard Pinterest

Most Recent Entries

Vinography Images: Unglamorous Work A Lesson in the Loss of Denis Malbec I'll Drink to That: Kimberly Prokoshyn of Rebelle Restaurant Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 6/19/16 Vinography Unboxed: Week of June 12, 2016 Warm Up: Richebourg I'll Drink to That: Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet Vinography Images: It's Nice to be King It's Time for American Wineries to Grow Up I'll Drink to That: Joy Kull of La Villana Winery

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise 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 Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud