Quaint is perhaps the best adjective to describe Handley Cellars, a small family run operation south of Mendocino in the heart of the Anderson Valley. Located just up the road a piece from downtown Philo, Handley resides at the old Holmes Ranch, established in the valley in the late 1800s, and maintains many of the original buildings.
Milla Handley has been making wine since 1982 with the help of her family, and now produces a substantial 14,000 cases a year with fruit from their estate as well as other sources throughout the valley. Their portfolio is about 20 wines deep and includes sparkling and dessert wines.
This particular Pinot is made from the fruit of three different vineyards across Mendocino, Domenichelli in Potter Valley, Vidmar in the Yorkville Highlands, and the Handley Estate in Anderson Valley. Fermented in small lots in steel tanks, the wine was aged in French oak for 10 months before bottling.
A very light garnet in color, this wine had a very unusual nose to it that brought in aromas of cinnamon, dates, oregano, and unsweetened cocoa. In the mouth it was subdued with a little raspberry fruit mixed with a whole lot of dried herbs and and bergamot, finishing with flavors of green wood, but not bitter.
I think this would go very well as a contrast wine, a wine designed to highlight the fruitier and sweeter flavors of a dish, rather than to complement the savory ones. For that reason I’d recommend a dish like roasted chicken thighs with squash, yams, and dried apricots. Alternatively, Handley recommends it as a good accompaniment to spicy asian dishes.
Overall Score: 8
How much?: $18