.Pleasant Valley Vineyards Estate Reserve Chardonnay

A visit to the Pleasant Valley Vineyards tasting room is always a pleasure. Smack in the middle of the property is a stunning grove of redwood trees, and surrounding vines glisten in the sun in this bucolic setting. And then there are the wines—an exemplary selection of varietals made by Craig Handley. Winery owners Craig and Cathy Handley transformed their home in the Santa Cruz appellation into a boutique winery in 1990, and have been happily producing fine wines ever since.

The winery’s 2013 Brittany Morgan Family Estate Reserve Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains ($40) is handcrafted from nurtured estate vines of French Dijon clones and then aged in French oak barrels. The vines experience a coastal influence of moderately warm days and cool moist nights that produce intense varietal fruit with crisp acidic characteristics, say the Handleys. Here’s a Chardonnay that’s full of subtlety and complexity, with none of the overpowering, over-oaked flavors that some Chards exhibit. Pleasant Valley produces “a golden crop of Chardonnay full of rich flavors of Pippin and Gala apples with a lemon meringue finish,” says the winemaker. It pairs well with chicken, seafood, pork and Asian cuisine. Wine could also be a panacea for all ills. When you walk in the door after a hard day’s grind, a glass of this Chard will do wonders.

The reason this Chardonnay is called Brittany Morgan is because the Handleys name all their wines after family members; nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. With their ever-expanding family, they’re not about to run out of names.

Pleasant Valley Vineyards’ tasting room is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, but call ahead to check. The tasting fee is around $10-$15. 600 Pleasant Valley Road, Aptos, 288-0074. 

Wine-tasting for Valentine’s Weekend

Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday, and I suggest you and your sweetie go wine-tasting this weekend in order to stock up on some sexy red wine and a bit of bubbly. What could be more romantic than cracking open a sparkling wine and sharing it with a loved one? Check the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association website for info on where to go.

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