IWC offers first look at Rhys’s exciting 2010s

by Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (May 2012)

“We’re just starting to get the hang of matching clone to individual site, which is the next challenge here,” said Kevin Harvey in March. “We’d like to further fine-tune our vine work so that growth is balanced in such a way that there’s no need for any green-harvesting, which means throwing away expended vine vigor. Better that it goes into grapes that you actually use than wasting energy, especially on poor soils where vines struggle anyway.” Winemaker Jeff Brinkman called 2010 “a terroir vintage, whereas 2009 was a weather vintage. The ’10s have a site transparency to and a mineral pungency while the ’09s are more about fruit.” The slow pace of the 2010 growing season was definitely a cause for concern, said vineyard manager Javier Meza. “It was like slow cooking: you had to be patient.”

2010 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 94 pts

Green-tinged gold. Complex, highly fragrant aromas of peach pit, melon and candied orange, with intense mineral and iodine qualities gaining power with air. Sappy and expansive, offering vibrant pit fruit, pear and anise flavors lifted by zesty minerality. Rich but lithe and stony, finishing with excellent clarity and a persistent note of bitter citrus pith. I was strongly reminded of a serious Chablis.

2010 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 95 pts

($69) Pale yellow, with a green hue. More mineral-driven than the Horseshoe bottling, displaying scents of candied citrus fruits, pear, anise, honeysuckle and sea salt. Pure and incisive on the palate, with strikingly pure lime, lemon and pear flavors complicated by floral and mineral qualities. Lingers with outstanding intensity, leaving notes of iodine, licorice and lime zest behind.

2010 Pinot Noir San Mateo County 91+ pts

Deep red. Dark cherry, rose and beetroot on the nose, with suave spicy lift. Dense and structured on entry, with bitter cherry and dark berry flavors energized by underlying minerality. Fine-grained tannins add shape and grip to the very long, sappy, focused finish. Showing a brooding side right now but this wine, which is made “with a lot of mountain fruit,” according to Harvey, is very promising.

2010 Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County 93 pts

Deep ruby. Intensely floral aromas of spicy red fruits and game, with a smoky topnote. Deeper bitter cherry and black raspberry flavors are complicated by anise and cola and gently firmed by fine-grained tannins. Impressively balanced pinot with appealing finishing sweetness and excellent spicy persistence.

2010 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard San Mateo 93 pts

Bright ruby. Seductive aromas of black raspberry, minerals and potpourri. Silky and focused, with sweet dark berry flavors buffered by zesty acidity. Impressively dense and quite concentrated but comes off lithe and fat-free. Finishes long and sappy, with resonating floral and Asian spice qualities.

2010 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard Anderson Valley 93 pts

Bright violet color. Sexy, highly perfumed scents of musky red and dark berries, incense and Asian spices, with a bright mineral topnote. Fresh, impressively concentrated raspberry and blackberry flavors are firmed by silky tannins and brightened by zesty minerality and a hint of blood orange. Suavely melds richness with energy, finishing on notes of tangy red berry skin and smoky minerals.

2010 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 94 pts

Bright violet color. Sexy, intensely perfumed bouquet evokes strawberry, blood orange, white flowers and Asian spices, with a bright mineral accent gaining power with air. Nervy and precise, with strikingly pure red fruit and floral flavors and distinct minerality. This lithe, focused pinot finishes with a persistent floral character.

2010 Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 94 pts

Vivid ruby. Sexy, high-pitched aromas of raspberry, candied cherry, fresh flowers and Asian spices. At once juicy and deep, with silky texture and superb intensity to its red fruit and floral pastille flavors. Pure, energetic and mineral-dominated on the very long finish.

2010 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 94 pts

Dark ruby. Exotic, intensely perfumed black raspberry and cherry aromas are complemented by cola, star anise and licorice. Juicy, impressively precise dark fruit flavors are lifted by tangy acidity and a slow-building blood orange quality. At once supple and lithe, finishing with outstanding energy and an array of dark berry and floral nuances.

2010 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace Santa Cruz Mountains 95 pts

Vivid ruby. Exotic, floral bouquet evokes potpourri, raspberry preserves, star anise, cola and minerals. Stains the palate with intense, seamless red fruit and floral pastille flavors. Bright and racy on the extremely persistent finish, leaving notes of candied rose, lavender and spicecake behind. This strikingly elegant, precise pinot was among the highlights of my spring trip.

2009 Syrah Skyline Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 93 pts

Opaque purple. A heady, floral bouquet evokes dark berry liqueur, cola, olive and candied violet. More densely packed and hefty than the Horseshoe bottling, offering lush blackberry and boysenberry flavors and suggestions of woodsmoke, floral pastilles and bitter chocolate. Aeration brings up an intense spicy quality that carries through a long, smoky, nicely focused finish.

2009 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains 93 pts

Bright purple. Blackberry, cherry and pungent spices on the powerfully scented nose. Sappy and palate-staining, offering potent, impressively deep dark fruit and violet pastille flavors. Surprisingly lithe and silky in texture for all its power. Turns spicier with air and finishes bright, floral and very long.

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