What’s next for Rhys’ Pinot Noir and Chardonnay?
This offering completes our three-part release of 2019 wines. We modified our normal bi-annual vintage release schedule to accommodate our very small production of 2020 wines. In order to ensure the highest possible quality, only 3 vineyard designated Pinot Noirs and two Chardonnays were bottled from the 2020 vintage. All of these wines will be released in the Spring of next year. Meanwhile the very limited 2019 Hillside Pinot Noirs will be offered in August of 2023. Starting with the Fall offering in 2023, we will return to our regular release schedule. This means that 2021 vineyard designated wines will be offered in The Fall of 2023 and Spring of 2024.
We saved the best for last!
This release focuses on the last of the Rhys single vineyard wines from the remarkable 2019 vintage, highlighting wines from Rhys’ Horseshoe and Mt. Pajaro estate vineyards. The 2019 vintage produced wines with beautiful balance that drink well young and will age gracefully. Here are critics’ notes on the wines:
Mt. Pajaro Vineyard
2019 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Chardonnay
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Chardonnay Mt. Pajaro Vineyard is magical. Slate, crushed rocks, white pepper and a very light touch of reduction give the 2019 its utterly captivating bouquet. Bright and vibrant, but with gorgeous mid-palate depth, the Mt. Pajaro Chardonnay is simply fabulous. This is Rhys’s first high-density Chardonnay planting, and probably won’t be the last. 95.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (September 2020) One of the more Burgundian-styled Chardonnays in the lineup, the 2019 Chardonnay Mt. Pajaro Vineyard has a beautiful mineral, reductive streak as well as bright citrus fruits, notes of crushed stone, mint, and white flowers, medium body, a more rounded, supple texture, and a great finish. It has plenty of up-front appeal and should keep for 5-7 years. 94.
2019 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Mt. Pajaro Vineyard emerges from a site in the southern part of the Santa Cruz Mountains and therefore has a completely different personality than the rest of the other SCM wines in the range. Here the flavors are darker while the tannins are more incisive. Black cherry, plum, licorice, cloves and gravel infuse this brooding, muscular Pinot with tons of complexity. 96.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (September 2020) Lots of ripe black cherry, currants, forest floor, and damp earth notes emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir Mt. Pajaro Vineyard, a rich, medium to full-bodied Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir that has beautiful overall balance, ripe, polished tannins, and a fabulous finish. It’s a gem of a wine that can be drunk any time over the coming 10-15 years. 94.
2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard is one of the most powerful, structured wines in this lineup. It has so much to offer, but very clearly needs quiet a bit of time. Strong mineral and savory accents drive the balance today. Crushed rocks, tobacco, cedar and earthy notes are very much in the foreground, while the fruit appears quite reticent at this stage. The Horseshoe was done with fully destemmed fruit and yet it is quite closed. I can hardly wait to taste it with some time in bottle. 96.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93) Kevin Harvey’s 2019 Horseshoe Vineyard pinot is another great wine in the making. The wine is deep, pure and youthful on the nose, wafting from the glass in a refined blend of red and black cherries, a touch of pomegranate, sweet stem tones, raw cocoa, a complex base of dark soil tones, gamebird, gentle notes of cedar and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is pure, full- bodied, sappy at the core and light on its feet, with impressive transparency and grip, ripe, fine- grained tannins and a long, tangy and nascently complex finish. All this stellar bottle of pinot noir needs is some time alone in the cellar to blossom fully. Great juice! 2032-2070+. 95.
2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Ungrafted Vines Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Own Rooted is magical. The ungrafted vines version of Horseshoe has more obvious fruit and texture than the ‘regular’ bottling but also plenty of the mineral and savory undertones that make that wine so appealing. I’m not sure when and if I will ever taste the Ungrafted Vines again, but I would sure like to see how it ages. I am not at all surprised to hear proprietor Kevin Harvey and longtime winemaker Jeff Brinkman add that they wish they had more parcels planted with ungrafted Pinot. 97.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93) It is fascinating to taste the Horseshoe “Ungrafted Vines” bottling alongside of the Hillside cuvée from this vineyard, as the ungrafted version is a touch lighter in color (though still a lovely, dark ruby). The bouquet is deep, complex and seems more expressive out of the blocks than the Hillside, offering up a complex blend of black cherries, pomegranate, woodsmoke, raw cocoa, a beautiful base of soil tones, fresh thyme, sweet stem tones and a lovely dollop of cedar. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied and very transparent in personality, with a sappy core of black fruit, excellent focus and grip, plenty of youthful stem tones on the backend, fine- grained tannins and a long, nascently complex and beautifully balanced finish. This is a wine that trades even more profoundly on its underlying soil signature than the Horseshoe Hillside, and though it is not quite as deep at the core, it seems likely to be every bit its equal when the two are ready to drink, despite this wine being a touch less intense in personality. Great juice. 2032- 2075. 95+.
Allen Meadows, Burghound.com (Oct 2021, #84) An elegant, restrained and relatively high-toned nose timidly offers up its aromas of essence of red cherry, orange pekoe tea, lavender and a beautiful array of spice nuances. There is again excellent volume to the plush, round and muscular larger-bodied flavors that conclude in a dusty, compact, austere and brooding finish. This is almost old school in style and if you’re one of the lucky few to acquire a few bottles, I would strongly advise not even thinking about opening a bottle for at least a decade. Original and outstanding with a texture that is really unlike anything else in the range. 95.
2018 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (August 2021) The 2018 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard is going to need at least a few years to emerge, as it is pretty tight today. Inky dark fruit, gravel, spice, menthol, espresso, sage and chocolate infuse the 2018 with tons of complexity. The Rhys Syrahs typically blossom only with time in bottle. I imagine that will be the case here as well. The 100% whole clusters approach works so well here. The 2018 spent 24-28 months in 25HL casks. 96.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (September 2020) Northern Rhône-like notes of white pepper, smoked game, cedar, iron, and assorted darker fruits all emerge from the 2018 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard, a rich, medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced Syrah. This Cornas look-alike will shine for 10-15 years, if not longer. 95.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93) The 2018 Syrah from the Horseshoe Vineyard is another absolutely stellar bottle in the making from Rhys Vineyards. The wine tips the scales at an even thirteen percent alcohol and delivers a beautifully precise and complex nose of black raspberries, blackberries, pepper, black olive, smoked meats, stony soil tones, black tea, just a whisper of new oak and a topnote of bonfire. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, focused and peppery, with an excellent core of fruit, superb mineral drive and grip, ripe, firm and well-integrated tannins and a long, youthful and chewy finish. This is a long distance runner that will not be happy to be disturbed from its hibernation in the cellar for at least the next dozen years or so, but it is going to be a great bottle when it is ready to drink. 2033-2065+. 94.