What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 12

A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.
A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.

2018 Barra Zinfandel

Inky garnet hued, the 2018 Barra of Mendocino Zinfandel looks jewel-like in your glass.

And while it’s 14.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not an overly fruity, bombastically boozy Zinfandel that’s going to knock you out for the count after one glass. That makes it a welcome sip even in the throes of summer.

Pressed from estate-grown, organically farmed 100 percent Zinfandel, the wine, of which I received a sample, garnered an 89-point score by Wine Enthusiast. It’s full of blueberries on the nose, and dried cherries, dried plums, tobacco, tar, and a hint of smoke on the palate.

The late Charlie Barra planted his first vineyards in Mendocino in 1955. He is considered the godfather of Mendocino grape-growing for his leadership in pioneering more efficient and sustainable methods, and for promoting organic practices. The legacy of his 350-acre estate continues under the management of his widow Martha Barra.

The $24 wine is available at the winery.

Cheers: Enjoy this wine alongside pulled pork, grilled pork loin or ribs, especially if any kind of cherry or berry-laced barbecue sauce is involved.

2019 Siduri Chardonnay

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I have a soft spot for Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs. Now, one of my favorite Pinot producers has just released its first Chardonnay.

Siduri, critically acclaimed for its elegant, cool-climate, single-vineyard Pinots, has only crafted a handful of white wines in its 27-year history. As a result, there’s no doubt that its 2019 Willamette Valley Chardonnay will automatically pique interest far and wide.

Winemaker Matt Revelette has previous experience making Chardonnay at Sonoma’s Sojourn Cellars, Sebastopol’s Kosta Browne, and Healdsburg’s Williams Selyem. The Siduri Chardonnay, of which I received a sample, is a blend of several vineyards that was divided up three ways to ferment in stainless steel tanks, concrete eggs, and 25 percent new French oak barrels. The resulting wine is the best of all worlds — velvety but without flabby richness, and bright with acidity but not overtly tangy.

This storied Pinot Noir producer's first Chardonnay release.
This storied Pinot Noir producer’s first Chardonnay release.

It’s full of finesse, with the lovely fragrance of white flowers and orange blossom, plus heady notes of apple, lemon, nutmeg, and just a hint of vanilla.

The $35 wine is available at Mollie Stone’s, Diablo Foods, and other retailers.

Cheers: If you’ve turned your back on Chardonnay of late, this one’s sure to win you back to the pleasures of this varietal.

2020 Handley Pinot Noir Rosé

Milla Handley was a true pioneer. She was one of the first women to graduate from the University of California at Davis with a degree in fermentation science in 1975, and the first female owner-winemaker in the United States to establish a winery in her own name in 1982.

In July 2020, she sadly passed away due to complications related to Covid. Now, her daughter Lulu Handley and winemaker Randy Schock have taken up the mantle at the small Mendocino winery.

Summer was made for a lovely rosé like this one.
Summer was made for a lovely rosé like this one.

One of their newest releases is the 2020 Handley Pinot Noir Rosé, of which I received a sample. Pressed from whole-cluster, estate-grown grapes, the wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks before 20 percent of it was racked to neutral oak barrels.

The resulting rosé, delicate pale salmon in color, is like a bouquet of white summer blooms. It’s juicy yet very crisp, and bountifully flavorful with raspberries, strawberries and watermelon.

A bottle is $26 is available at Handley’s tasting room just six miles north of Philo. Tours and tastings are available only by appointment. While there, take in the colorful folk art from Oaxaca, Bali, and Africa that Milla Handley’s parents collected on their travels.

Cheers: For a different way to enjoy Handley’s 2020 Pinot Noir, Maker Wine just released this week a collaboration that offers that wine in a convenient can. Either by bottle or can, enjoy a sip — and salute Milla Handley, a woman who paved the way.

More: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 9

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 10

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 11

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 13

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 14

And: What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 15

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