Dunnuck calls the Rhys “2019s, some of the more structured.. wines I’ve tasted from them”

by Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (July 2021)

Those who like a more ethereal, Burgundian style of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay should check out the wines from [Rhys]… more medium-bodied, savory, structured, acid-driven, yet beautifully balanced wines that should evolve for a solid decade or more. Rhys, from the Santa Cruz Mountains, also falls into this category, especially with their latest 2019s, which are some of the more structured, savory wines I’ve tasted from them.

2019 Alesia Anderson Valley Chardonnay
Bright white peach, tart pineapple, white flowers, and a kiss of honeyed minerality all emerge from the 2019 Chardonnay Anderson Valley Alesia, and this pure, medium-bodied, classy Chardonnay has bright acidity, medium body, plenty of mid-palate richness and depth, and the class to keep for 4-6 years. 91.

2019 Alesia Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay
The 2019 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains Alesia comes from a blend of sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It has a wonderfully textured, medium-bodied, concentrated style carrying ample melon, pineapple, flower, and honeysuckle aromas and flavors. I’d be thrilled to drink a bottle any time over the coming 3-5 years. 92.

2019 Alesia Anderson Valley Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Alesia comes from the Anderson Valley sites and can be thought of as an introduction to the style and quality of this estate. Medium ruby-hued, it has medium-bodied aromas and flavors of mulled cherries, roasted herbs, loamy soil, and baking spices. These all carry to a medium-bodied Pinot Noir that has plenty of structure, good balance, and outstanding length. 91.

2019 Alesia Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Santa Cruz Mountains Alesia, which comes all from the Santa Cruz Mountains, is well worth checking out for readers looking to understand the style of this estate. Spiced red and black fruits, savory herbs, and loamy earth are just some of the nuances in this charming, medium-bodied, balanced Pinot Noir. The tannins aren’t quite as polished or integrated as in the single vineyard, but it’s beautifully balanced and certainly has classic Rhys character. It should drink well for 5-6 years or more. 92.

2019 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Chenin Blanc
One of the finest expressions of this variety in California, the light gold-hued 2019 Chenin Blanc Mt. Pajaro Vineyard offers lots of tart pineapple and citrus fruits, notes of savory herbs and loamy earth, medium body, bright acidity, and a clean finish. This beautiful Chenin Blanc will drink nicely for at least 7-8 years. 92.

2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Chardonnay
A lighter, fresher style of Chardonnay from this site, the 2019 Chardonnay Bearwallow Vineyard has pretty white peach, pineapple, and citrus fruits as well as subtle white flower, mint, and honeysuckle nuances. Medium-bodied, fresh, and lively, it’s surprisingly mid-weight and fleeting, although certainly outstanding. Drink it over the coming 3-5 years.91.

2019 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Chardonnay
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 Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay
I loved the 2019 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard, a complete, balanced, incredibly elegant Chardonnay that has everything you could ask for. Pure citrus, white flowers, chalky minerality, and tart white peach notes all emerge from the glass, and it’s medium-bodied, with terrific overall balance and a lengthy, salty finish that keeps you coming back to the glass. It should benefit from a year in bottle and drink nicely through 2029+. 95.

2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Chardonnay
Ripe Meyer lemons, crushed stone, white flower, and exotic spice notes all emerge from the 2019 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard. Rich and medium-bodied, it has a beautiful mid-palate, integrated acidity, and a great finish. It shows the slightly more rounded, supple style of the vintage, yet I love its density and length. Give it a year or two and enjoy over the following decade. 95.

2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir
Coming from a site in the Anderson Valley region of Mendocino, the 2019 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard has a classic savoriness in its dried cherry and strawberry fruits as well as loamy soil, spice, and dried herb-like aromas and flavors. Medium-bodied, wonderfully balanced, and elegant on the palate, it has plenty of up-front appeal, yet I have no doubt it will still be going strong in a decade as well. 93.

2019 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Porcupine Hill is another Anderson Valley release that does well in the vintage. Medium ruby-hued, with a great nose of black raspberries, baking spices, resinous herbs, and black tea, it hits the palate with medium to full body, a layered, beautifully balanced mouthfeel, lots of structure, and a great finish. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age, but it’s brilliant. 94+.

2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Syrah
The 2019 Syrah Bearwallow Vineyard reveals a deep ruby/plum color to go with a great, meaty, savory nose of blackberries, roasted meats, pepper, iron, and violets. This rich, meaty, medium to full-bodied, concentrated Syrah reminds me of a solid Hermitage. It can be drunk today yet won’t hit maturity for another 4-5 years and should keep for a decade. 94.

2019 Rhys Family Farm Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard is another savory, mineral-laced wine in the lineup. Black cherries, baking spices, dried earth, leather, and savory herb notes all emerge from the glass, and it’s medium-bodied, with a layered, rounded texture and outstanding length. It’s not for those looking for up-front fruit, but it’s nuanced, balanced, textured, and lengthy. It should keep for 7-8 years, if not longer. 93.

2019 Rhys Home Vineyard Pinot Noir
Ample black cherries, sappy herbs, iron, iodine, and gamey, floral notes emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, building tannins, a sappy, grippy mouthfeel, and outstanding length. It’s mostly potential at this point, but I love its overall balance and length. Give bottles 2-4 years and enjoy over the following decade or more. 94+.

2019 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Pinot Noir
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 Skyline Vineyard Pinot Noir
Another Santa Cruz Mountains release, the 2019 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard has a more spicy, meaty, savory style than usual, giving up lots of rich, darker cherry and currant fruits, notes of savory herbs, chocolate, baking spices, and earth, plenty of mid-palate depth, ripe, polished, yet substantial tannins, and outstanding length. Give it a few years. 94.

2019 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir
I loved the 2019 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard, a spicy, perfumed, more ethereal Pinot Noir from a great vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Revealing a translucent ruby hue as well as notes of ripe cherries, strawberries, sappy flowers, spice, and sappy underbrush, it hits the palate with medium-bodied richness, silky yet building tannins, no hard edges, and a great finish. It’s one of the most balanced, complete wines in the lineup and will keep for 10-15 years. 96.

2019 Rhys Swan Terrace Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace sports a medium ruby hue to go with subtle stem-like notes in its sour cherry and mulled strawberry fruits as well as sandalwood, iron, flowers, and spice-laced nuances. Medium-bodied and nicely textured, with bright acidity and building tannins, it doesn’t appear to match prior vintages, but it’s a balanced, complex, satisfying Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir that will benefit from a year or three of bottle age and keep for a decade or more. 93.

2019 Rhys Alpine Hillside Pinot Noir
Another parcel selection from an estate vineyard, the 2019 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard Hillside reveals a medium ruby color to go with complex notes of ripe red and black fruits, dried herbs, earth, leather, and baking spices. Rich, medium-bodied, beautifully concentrated, and balanced, it has some bloody, gamey, exotic characteristics as well as enough tannins to warrant 2-4 years of bottle age. While it doesn’t match the magical 2018, it’s a seriously brilliant 2019 that’s well worth seeking out and cellaring. 96+.

2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Pinot Noir
The 2019 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard is more reductive and hard to read, with lots of iodine, crushed stone, savory herbs, and assorted darker berry fruits. As with most of these latest 2019s from Rhys, it shows a more structured, savory. medium-bodied style that’s going to benefit from bottle age but have 10-15 years of overall longevity. 93+.

2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Ungrafted Vines Pinot Noir
Coming from vines that were not grafted onto a phylloxera-resistant rootstock, the 2019 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Ungrafted offers a similar translucent ruby hue as well as a savory, meaty, gamey nose of mulled cherries, spice, decayed flowers, and forest floor. More round and supple on the palate, it shows a touch more fruit and texture compared to the more firm, gamey Horseshoe Vineyard release. It too should keep for 10-15 years. 94.

2019 Rhys Horseshoe Hillside Pinot Noir
A tiny production, parcel selection from the Horseshoe Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2019 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Hillside is one of the more backward, structured, serious wines in the lineup. Notes of darker currants, sour cherries, crushed stone, iodine, forest floor, and roasted herb-like nuances all develop with time in the glass, and it’s medium to full-bodied, with a rich, layered mid-palate, building tannins, and a brilliantly focused finish. It needs a good hour in a decanter if drinking any time soon and will be best with 2-4 years of bottle age. It should have 15+ years of prime drinking. 97+.

2018 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah
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.

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