Handley Cellars is a Model of Consistency
Milla Handley has been at it for over 25 years and the winery she directs as both proprietor and winemaker
is now making wines of such impressive consistency that I never tire recommending them. For
more than 10 years now, Handley Cellars has farmed sustainably in the Anderson Valley, using organic
methods whenever feasible. The winery and surrounding estate vineyards are nestled in the
“deep end” of the Anderson Valley in coastal Mendocino County. A wide range of varietal wines are
produced, both red and white, including sparkling wine, and all are very sensibly priced.
2006 Handley Cellars Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay
15.0% alc., 1,510 cases,
$20. The vineyard is located at the cooler end of the Dry Creek Valley and benefits from coastal fog
influence in the mornings. Temperatures were higher than normal in July, 2006, accounting for the
higher sugars and resulting alcohol. 65% of the wine was fermented and aged in French oak barrels
(18% new); 35% was stainless steel fermented before it was racked to French oak barrels and puncheons.
The wine spent six months in oak before bottling. 35% of the blend finished MLF.
particularly partial to this style of Chardonnay. The nose offers leesy, butter, peach and lemon peel aromas.
On the palate the wine is creamy and fruity with plenty of stone fruit extract. Beautifully balanced
with acid under control and a long finish with no alcohol in site. Delicious.
2006 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay
12.8% alc., 1,934 cases, $22. Ample
leaf canopy protected the Chardonnay clusters from the July heat and they ripened fully during moderate
weather in August and September. Fruit was carefully dropped and sorted to ensure quality.
The wine received a balanced oak regime, fermenting and aging in a combination of new and neutral
barrels and puncheons. The wine was aged sur lie for 3 months. 32% of the wine completed MLF.
bit more apparent acidity and austerity than the above Chardonnay, in part due to lower alcohol..
Equally attractive aromas and flavors of green apples, pears, peaches, almonds, and oak with a citrus
bent. The texture is edgy and the finish is refreshingly crisp. Beautifully balanced and a treat to drink.
2006 Handley Cellars Handley Vineyard Dry Creek Valley Syrah
14.5% alc., 570 cases, $25.
dark purple color. Penetrating perfume of brambly and earth dusted crushed black fruits. Thick with potent
black raspberry and blackberry fruit with moderate fine-grained tannins. Needs substantial food.
2006 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., 4,062
cases, $30. Sourced from several vineyards include Handley Estate (33%),
Ferrington (15%), Charles (11%), Helluva (11%), Corby (8%), Romani (8%)
and others (14%). The grapes were cold soaked for two days after crushing.
Several different yeasts were utilized for fermentation causing variation in
fermentation rate among the different lots. The grapes were then pressed,
allowed to settle a few days in tank, and racked to French oak barrels, 29%
of which were new. The wine was aged 9 months in barrel, with lees stirring,
until MLF was completed.
This is still a very young wine and I have experienced
some bottle variation at this stage. This particular bottle was fine. Alluring aromas of cherry,
baking spices, and sage. Light and easy to drink, the red fruits are juicy with good grip. Soft and pillowy
with gossamer tannins. A reliable drinker that won’t disappoint.
Handley Cellars is located at 3151 Hwy 128, in Philo. The attractive tasting room is open daily. The
wines are sold on the website and distributed to fine retail stores. The phone is 800-733-3151 and the
website is www.handleycellars.com. The Handley Cellars 2003 Brut Rosé earned top honors in the San
Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition ($36). Two other Pinot Noirs from Handley Cellars have been
previously reviewed in the PinotFile and are a step up in complexity and quality as well as price: 2004
Handley Cellars Reserve Pinot Noir ($52) and 2005 Handley Cellars RMS Vineyard Pinot Noir ($52,
Wine Club member exclusive).