2013 Rhys Wines Given Top Honors in Galloni’s Santa Cruz Mountains Coverage

2013 Rhys Wines Given Top Honors in Galloni’s Santa Cruz Mountains Coverage

by Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2015)

Proprietor Kevin Harvey and winemaker Jeff Brinkman have turned out another stellar set of wines. The 2013 Pinot Noirs have largely turned as I had expected, but I was also quite taken with the 2012 Chardonnays and Syrahs, all of which merit serious attention. Despite an unusually cool May that appeared to reduce the crop early on, yields in 2013 turned out to be higher than in 2012. Some of the 2013 Pinots have softened a bit since I last tasted them about eight months ago, which leads me to think they may drink better earlier than I had originally envisioned. Time will tell. I also tasted a handful of 2014s from barrel that will be offered as futures within the next few months. Based on the wines I saw, I will not be surprised if the 2014 Pinots surpass the 2013s. The only issue is going to availability, as production is down sharply vis-a-vis 2012 and 2013. Kevin Harvey has brought a savvy, long-time collector’s palate and a total commitment to excellence to Rhys, along with the significant personal resources to execute on his vision. With each passing vintage, the wines continue to improve to the point where comparisons to the best estates in California are increasingly less relevant. Rhys is world class. It’s as simple as that.


The team at Rhys does such a terrific job with Alesia, their second label. Every time I stop by the winery proprietor Kevin Harvey swears he is done with these wines made from purchased fruit, but every now and then the temptation proves to be too great. The Alesia wines are very pretty and also suitable for near-term drinking, something that is seldom the case with Rhys. Readers should note that there will be no Alesia wines in the 2014 or 2015 vintages.

2013 Alesia Chardonnay Alder Springs Vineyard

The 2013 Chardonnay Alder Springs Vineyard from Alesia is gorgeous. Best of all, it will provide plenty of pleasure while some of the other Chardonnays gain complexity in bottle. Candied lemon, almonds, pastry and a hint of spice are some of the notes that are laced into the soft, open-knit finish. 91.

2013 Alesia Pinot Noir Alder Springs Vineyard

Dark red cherry, plum and spice give the 2013 Pinot Noir Alder Springs Vineyard much of its juicy, up-front Pinot. Sweet floral, saline and earthy notes follow, adding layers of nuance. This flashy Pinot is a terrific choice for drinking over the next few years. 90.


2013 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard

The 2013 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard is gorgeous from the very first taste. Chiseled and finely cut, the 2013 boasts considerable energy, tension and focus. Lemon oil, white flowers, mint and white pepper are all given an extra kick of brightness. 93.

2013 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard

The 2013 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard is quite opulent and open for this wine. Hints of tropical fruit, butter, white truffle, pastry and apricot jam fill out the wine’s ample, broad-shouldered frame with ease. This is an unusually open, young Chardonnay from Rhys, where the Chards often need at least a few years in bottle to truly blossom.93.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir San Mateo

The 2013 Pinot Noir San Mateo County is bright and decidedly citrus-laced in its profile. Bright red cherry, orange peel, white pepper and savory herbs. The 50% whole clusters add lift, but are also impeccably balanced throughout. With time in the glass, distinctly sweet, kirsch-inflected notes are pushed forward. Delicate and lithe in the glass, the 2013 San Mateo will drink well pretty much upon release. The 2013 is mostly Family Farm with a touch of Horseshoe. 91.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains

The 2013 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains shows a much darker side of Pinot, especially next to the San Mateo County, Rhys’s other appellation wine. The flavors are bold and deeply spiced to the core, with layers of dark red and bluish fruit that emerge over time. Leather, cedar and cloves help shape the creamy finish. This is one of the hidden gems in the Rhys lineup. Don’t miss it! 93.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard

The 2013 Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard comes across as dense, powerful and meaty, with notable intensity and a huge center of fruit, much of that an expression of these clay-rich soils. Smoke, game, dried flowers, tobacco and licorice add nuance as this virile, imposing Pinot shows off its personality. Hints of game and chalkiness impart a Volnay-like edge to the finish. There is a generosity to the 2013 that is impossible to miss. 93.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Home Vineyard

Huge swaths of tannin provide the backbone of the 2013 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard. Many of the Rhys 2013 Pinots are quite appealing today. This is not one of them. Readers will have to be exceedingly patient, as the 2013 is likely to age at a glacial pace by California standards. The flavors are dark, bold and intense, throughout, with a kick of intensity from the rocky soils. The tannins need time to soften a bit, but there is no question the 2013 Home is a knock out. 94+.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard

From the coolest part of Anderson Valley, the 2013 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard hits the palate with a rush of dark fruit. Round, supple and pliant through to the finish, the 2013 is all about texture. Bright saline notes add energy to the creamy, beautifully layered finish. Today my impression is that the Bearwallow will drink well sooner than many of the other wines in the range. 93.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard Porcupine Hill 

The 2013 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard Porcupine Hill appears to be going through a closed phase, as it is not as expressive as it has been on the two occasions I tasted it from barrel. Today, the Porcupine Hill gives the impression of being more aromatic and lifted than the straight Bearwallow, but today the tannins are imposing. White pepper, chalk, orange peel and tobacco add nuance, but it is the wine’s power that stands out above all else. Readers will have to be patient.93+.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard

The 2013 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard is one of the most sensual, layered wines in the range. Nothing at all sticks out. Instead, it is the wine’s sublime balance that truly impresses. Sweet and perfumed throughout, with silky tannins and tons of pure grace, the 2013 should afford readers a long and broad drinking window of pure pleasure. The 100% whole clusters are evident but also beautifully woven into the fabric of the wine. 95.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Swan Terrace

A dark, mysterious wine, the 2013 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace stands out for its ample texture and body. Dark red cherry, plum, cloves, new leather and menthol blossom in a ripe, overt wine. Here, too, readers can expect a wine that will drink well with minimal cellaring. Today, the Swan Terrace comes across as much more open than it did from barrel. It will be interesting to see if the 2013 shuts down in bottle. 95.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard

Sweet red cherry, plum, mint, spice and expressive floral notes form a super-appealing backdrop of aromas and flavors in the 2013 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard. Open-knit and super-expressive, the 2013 boasts superb textural balance and finesse. A final burst of red stone fruit and pomegranate hits the finely-knit, delicate finish. 94.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Hillside 

The 2013 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard Hillside is endowed with a real sense of vertical lift. Beams of tannin give the 2013 much of its energy and overall tension. Dark cherry, plum, smoke, graphite, mint, lavender and spices are all super-expressive, with considerable aromatic intensity added by the inclusion of 100% whole clusters. This powerful yet sleek Pinot won’t be ready to drink for a number of years, but it is compelling, even today.96.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard

An absolute triumph from Rhys, the 2013 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard is all about translucence and a total sense of weightlessness. The flavors are lifted and precise throughout in an utterly captivating Pinot that captures the essence of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hints of rose petal, dark red cherry, anise and licorice grace the haunting, exquisite finish. The Horseshoe is arguably the most refined of these 2013 Pinots from Rhys. 96.

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir Horseshoe Hillside 

Just as brilliant from bottle as it was from barrel, the 2013 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Hillside hits all the right notes. Exotic, perfumed and structured, the 2013 exudes pedigree. Violets, lavender, dark spices and black cherries flesh out in a dark, sensual Pinot loaded with class. The flavors are vivid, nuanced and layered throughout. The 2013 boasts striking inner perfume, endless layers of fruit and an intense, palate-staining finish. Simply stated, the 2013 is a remarkable, deeply expressive, must-have wine from Rhys. 97.

2012 Rhys Syrah Skyline Vineyard

The 2012 Syrah Skyline Vineyard is deep, powerful and intense, with serious resonance throughout. Inky blue and purplish fruit, lavender, menthol, violets and spices meld together in a pliant, exuberant Syrah built on structure. Serious tannins and beams of salinity push through to the intense finish. The 100% whole clusters are pretty much buried by the fruit. 94.

2012 Rhys Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard

A more savory style of Syrah (relative to the Skyline) emerges from the 2012 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard. Grilled herbs, rose petals, iron and a host of ferrous notes make a strong first impression. Here the flavors are rich, broad and expansive, mirroring the wine’s large-scaled frame. The 2012 is quite impressive today, but it won’t be ready to drink for at least a few years. 95.

2014 Barrel Samples

2014 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

Vivid and crystalline in the glass, the 2014 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard offers notable focus throughout, with powerful, incisive tannins that propel the inky blue/purplish fruit. Hints of graphite, smoke and licorice add nuance in a poised Anderson Valley that appears to have a bright future. (91-94).

2014 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

Crushed rose petals, dried cherries and herbs are some of the many nuances that open up in the 2014 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard. Bright acidity gives the flavors energy and lift, but the fruit remains quite dark and deep in its expression. The 2014 is deep and beautifully layered, with notable resonance, but no excess weight. This is another wine of immense promise from Rhys. (93-96).

2014 Rhys Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

The 2014 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard is dazzling from the very first taste. Captivating aromatics take hold of all the senses in a magnificent, explosive Pinot endowed with superb purity and energy. Today there is virtually no sensation as tannin, as the palate feel is all about voluptuousness. Effortless and gracious, the 2014 is shaping up to be a jewel. I can’t wait to taste this from bottle. (94-97).


Antonio revisited a few older wines and had the following to say-

2012 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard

The 2012 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard opens with attractive scents of lemon peel, apricot, slate and chamomile. Slightly reductive in its aromatics and persistent on the finish, the 2012 offers exceptional finesse in a brilliant style long on focus and tension. This is pure class. 94.

2012 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard

Rich, oily and viscous on the palate, the 2014 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard is all about texture. Orange blossoms, mint, honey, apricot jam, butter and spices meld into the racy, voluptuous finish as the 2012 shows off its class and exuberant personality. A slight element of Burgundian-inflected reduction lingers on the close. If opened young, the 2012 needs a lot of air, but ideally readers should be prepared to cellar this gem for at least a few years. 95.

2010 Rhys Pinot Noir Home Vineyard

Proprietor Kevin Harvey opened a bottle of the 2010 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard to show how the tannins integrate over time. Today, what comes through is a decidedly extroverted voice, with plenty of dark-fleshed stone fruit, game, violet and licorice all pushed forward. The tannins have softened, releasing the perfumed aromatics and layers of racy fruit. 95.

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