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There’s so much buzz about Handley Cellars these days, I feel like I am the last person to “discover” these exceptional wines.  In summary, they are delicious, well-made and well-priced. 

My favorite Handley white is the 2010 Pinot Gris, a fun grape to get to to know. If you visit the western area of Northern California’s wine roads (Russian River’s west side, Anderson Valley and west Mendocino and Sonoma Coast) you’ll meet several producers making stellar Pinot Gris. If you can’t visit, look for them in your markets, they are usually very affordable and a nice change of pace for white wine lovers.

2010 was a very unusual long, cool season and many wines from these areas just didn’t fair well. If you score a bottle of  the 2010 Handley Pinot Gris you’ll be able to experience the magic that can happen when a challenging vintage is in the right winemaker’s hands.

The rather deary weather in 2010 was especially hard on Chardonnay so Handley sourced their fruit from an organic vineyard in the Ukiah Valley (a bit warmer inland area).  I paired the 2010 Mendocino Valley Chardonnay with trout and it was fantastic.  I read later that Handley recommends it be paired with fish and chips or grilled fish. They know what they are doing with their pairing advice. Right on.

Currently, Handley has four Pinot Noirs available.  My favorite is the 2009 Mendocino County Pinot Noir. It hit all the right notes for me.  I paired* it with cast-iron skillet scallops with a relish of chopped mushrooms, garlic and bacon bits and a wonderful spinach salad with goat cheese brie, strawberries and pistachios.  This wine is only $25 (excellent value for a great Pinot Noir). I predict it will be a best seller.

It’s Handley Cellars 30th Anniversary and I’ve heard they have a lovely property.  I look forward to visiting later this year.

*The pairing suggestion above is a good choice for many light to medium-style Pinot Noirs because of the blend of fruit and earth-flavors.

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