Allen Meadows find Rhys’s 2011s among the best of California

Allen Meadows find Rhys’s 2011s among the best of California

by Allen Meadows,

The estate wines of Rhys Vineyards are made from organic and biodynamically farmed fruit. Owner Kevin Harvey and winemaker Jeff Brinkman continue to fashion truly remarkable wines, indeed they are consistently among the best examples that California has to offer. At each of their vineyards sites over 75% of the land is left in a completely natural state. In addition to the native wildlife, they plant herbs, flowers, vegetables and grain crops while free ranging chickens and sheep also help naturally fertilize the vineyards. This is all part of their philosophy that creating a living soil creates better wine. Their winemaking process, from harvest to bottling, is based on a gravity system and the wines are never pumped, fined, or filtered. Readers should be aware that the Rhys wines are clearly fashioned in a built-to-age style and thus are most assuredly not intended to show their best young. Thus I would suggest that if you’re going to buy them do so with the intent to allow for at least a few years of bottle age. For further information, call 866.511.1520 or visit:

2011 Pinot Noir – Alpine Vineyard: 
(Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.3%). A distinctly floral nose displays hints of exotic tea and spice on the mostly red berry fruit suffused aromas. There is fine intensity and punch to the well-detailed medium weight flavors that terminate in a mouth coating and mildly austere, dusty and focused finish. This doesn’t have the complexity of the best in the range but I love the delivery. 90/2019+

2011 Pinot Noir – Bearwallow Vineyard: 
(Anderson Valley, 13.5%). This is less obviously floral than the Alpine but slightly more aromatically complex with its elegant aromas of violets, plums and red currants. There is really lovely intensity to the delicious middle weight flavors that possess a bit more volume before culminating in a structured, serious and clearly built-to- age finish. Good stuff.91/2019+

2011 Pinot Noir – Family Farm Vineyard: 
(San Mateo County, 12.8%).This is completely different as there is plenty of wood toast and even a hint of tar that fights somewhat with the black raspberry and plum aromas. There is good vibrancy to the concentrated and extract-rich flavors that are overtly robust, all wrapped in a muscular finish where the tar character resurfaces. This is impressively scaled but awkward today as the style is not consistent with the other wines in the range. 88/2019+

2011 Pinot Noir – Home Vineyard: 
(San Mateo County, 13.2%). This is much more elegant with admirable purity to the refined combination of both red and blue pinot fruit, spice and violet-inflected scents. There is equally good refinement to the beautifully well-delineated and vibrant medium-bodied flavors that also exhibit a robust and muscular finish that is impeccably well-balanced. This is quite firm and will definitely require a few years of cellar time. 92/2020+

2011 Pinot Noir – Horseshoe Vineyard: 
(Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.4%). In much the same fashion as the Alpine this is intensely floral with plenty of spice character to the relatively high-toned red berry fruit aromas. The cool, pure, intense and beautifully detailed middle weight flavors possess a lovely sense of underlying tension while delivering outstanding length on the superbly long finish. This is very much old school in style and quite youthfully austere today so I would strongly suggest allowing this tightly coiled effort to remain hidden in your cellar for at least 6 to 8 years. 93/2023+

2011 Pinot Noir – Skyline Vineyard:
(Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.6%). Interestingly, this is much more reserved, indeed the nose is almost mute and only aggressive swirling liberates grudging notes of dried flowers and essence of red berries that are trimmed in soft spice nuances. There is strikingly good detail to the ripe and wonderfully intense medium weight flavors that possess excellent underlying material while offering terrific depth and length on the balanced but very backward finish. While this is not necessarily better than the Horseshoe today I suspect that the Skyline will ultimately be the better wine. Time will of course tell but what it clear is that both possess superb development potential. 93/2023+

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