Antonio Galloni reviews Rhys 2011s and takes a look at 2012s in barrel

Antonio Galloni reviews Rhys 2011s and takes a look at 2012s in barrel

by Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2013)

To say that 2011 was difficult in the Santa Cruz Mountains is a massive understatement. Yields are never generous here, but in 2011 they were depressingly low. To add insult to injury, making top-flight wine in 2011 required extraordinary diligence and sacrifice…

As was the case throughout the state, in 2011 cool weather the entire year delayed the harvest by at least a few weeks for all varieties. Unlike 2010, there were no heat spikes whatsoever. On average, alcohols are 1% lower than normal, which is incredible, given that alcohols are never particularly high here by California standards.

2011 Alesia Chardonnay Coastview Vineyard

A rich, broad-shouldered Chardonnay, the 2011 Coastview Vineyard wraps around the palate with generous fruit. Peach, apricot, white flowers and mint are all woven together in a rich, resonant Chardonnay loaded with personality. The expansive, creamy finish is striking and adds a level of depth that is missing in many 2011 Chardonnays. 92.

2011 Alesia Chardonnay Alder Springs Vineyard

The 2011 Chardonnay Alder Springs is a pretty, entry-level offering from the team at Alesia/Rhys. Hints of white peach, pear and flowers flow through to the graceful, understated finish. 90.

2011 Alesia Pinot Noir Alder Springs

The 2011 Pinot Noir Alder Springs presents an attractive combination of juiciness tempered by the cool personality of the year. Dark cherries, plums, licorice, leather, sage and rosemary all take shape nicely in the glass. The finish is huge and powerful, with some slightly angular contours that might soften with more time in bottle. The 2011 was made with 35% whole clusters. 89.

2011 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard

The 2011 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard shows the broad shoulders typical of so many Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays. Honey, almonds, crème brulee and apricot jam are all layered into the finish. The Alpine is a little more overt and exotic than the Horseshoe at this stage. It is an exceptionally beautiful, totally dazzling wine. 95.

2011 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard

A model of precision, finesse and delineation, the 2011 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard bristles with the essence of honey, white truffle, orange peel and nectarine. The 2011 needs a few years to drop some of its baby fat, but the direction it is likely to take becomes apparent with time in the glass. Watching the wine literally become crystalline and pure with air is quite an amazing experience. 93+.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard

The 2011 Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard is one of the wilder wines in this range of 2011 Pinots. Game, tar, licorice and dark fruits all take on an intensely mineral personality with distinct volcanic overtones reminiscent of Aglianico and Taurasi. The layered, exotic finish is compelling and full of character. 91.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Home Vineyard

The 2011 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard bursts from glass with racy red berries, flowers, smoke, licorice, incense and orange peel. Exotic, beguiling and beautifully layered, the 2011 boasts stunning depth, yet weightless elegance and tons of pure personality. The racy, explosive finish is a marvel to behold. An utterly dazzling Pinot, the 2011 should drink well for years. It is one of the few California Pinots I would bet on to age gracefully for more than a decade. This dazzling Pinot Noir has pedigree and structure to burn. In a word: superb! Home was the first parcel to ripen in 2011, and as such, the team felt the stems were ripe enough to use a mostly whole clusters, 93% to be exact. 96.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard

Sweet tobacco, herbs, licorice and dried black cherries lift out of the glass in the 2011 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard. Subtle floral and savory notes are woven throughout. The 2011 shows lovely energy and depth, but also the modest structure typical of Anderson Valley Pinots in this vintage. I expect the Bearwallow 2011 will drink well pretty much upon release and for at least a handful of years to follow. This is a terrific showing in a vintage that was very tough in the Anderson Valley. The 2011 was made with 35% whole clusters. 90.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard

The 2011 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard is all about tension, energy and length. Nothing in particular stands out in a wine that boasts terrific balance and pedigree. Readers will have to be patient with this superb, finely crafted Pinot. There is a lot to admire in the 2011’s cool, mineral-driven personality, even if it will be a few years before the wine is ready to show all of its cards. The 2011 was made with 60% whole clusters. 93+.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard

The 2011 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard comes across as a bit heavy, even in this cool vintage. Black cherries, plums, incense, orange peel, smoke and melted road tar explode from the glass in a Pinot that is all about structure. The firm, grippy tannins suggest the 2011 will enjoy a long life by California standards. There is a lot to like here, and there will be even more, if the wine finds a more finessed voice with further time in bottle. The 2011 was with 18% whole clusters. 93+.

2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard

The 2011 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard is another of the hugely intriguing wines in this range. It brings together the intensely perfumed, savory notes found in some of the other wines, but here the fruit is rich, deep and marvelously resonant. Dark cherry, menthol, sage, smoke and licorice all build to a huge, explosive finish laced with distinct Syrah-inflected overtones. This should be a fascinating wine to follow over the next decade-plus. The 2011 was made from fully destemmed fruit. 94.

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

Wild flowers, licorice, leather, tobacco and mint are some of the many notes that appear as the 2012 Pinot Noir Family Farm vineyard shows off its distinct, savory personality. Silky and layered on the palate, the 2012 nevertheless boasts tons of structure in support of the polished fruit. Crushed flowers, spices and mint add pretty notes of ethereal finesse. (92-94).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Home Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

The 2012 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard is one of the most reticent, buttoned-up wines in this range. Racy and medium-bodied in personality, the 2012 impresses first and foremost for its balance and overall sense of harmony. Firm yet beautifully integrated tannins support the racy, layered finish. This is another wine that will require a measure of patience. (93-95).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

The 2012 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard presents an unbelievably pure, racy, layered expression of this Anderson Valley site. Dark red cherries, plums, flowers and licorice take on shades of notable intensity as the wine opens up in the glass. Aromatics, fruit and structure are all impeccably balanced in a Pinot that has the potential to redefine the potential of Anderson Valley. A sexy, totally voluptuous finish rounds things out in style. The 12% whole clusters are barely noticeable in this striking, drop-dead gorgeous Pinot from Rhys. (93-95).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

The 2012 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard is one of the more voluptuous, in your face Pinots in this range. An explosive, full-bodied Pinot, the 2012 will appeal most to readers who like fleshier Pinots. Layers of intense, resonant fruit continue to build as the wine sits in the glass. Today, there isn’t a whole lot of subtlety here, so it will be interesting to see if that develops with more time in bottle. (92-94).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

One of the highlights of the vintage at Rhys, the 2012 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard literally jumps from the glass. Vivid, explosive and utterly crystalline in its purity, the 2012 is packed with layers of fruit supported by vibrant minerality. Crushed rocks and cloves add complexity over time, but the 2012 is years away from showing all of its potential. Its pedigree, on the other hand, is evident. (94-96).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Swan Terrace (Barrel Sample)

How great it is to see the Pinot Noir Swan Terrace back in the lineup in 2012. Cool layers of mineral-infused fruit lead to autumn leaves, crushed rocks, flowers and black cherries. The Swan Terrace is distinctly earthy and almost Syrah-like in its expression today. A racy, totally delineated Pinot, the Swan Terrace is simply drop-dead gorgeous, not to mention one of the highlights (although there are many!) in this lineup of 2012 Pinots from Rhys. (94-96).

2012 Rhys Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard (Barrel Sample)

Even in 2012, the Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard shows its trademark cut, precision and crystalline energy. Sweet floral notes and veins of saline-infused minerality are woven throughout a core of dark red fruit. The Horseshoe is all about nuance and detail. It is another wine with a bright, bright future. (93-95).

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