Rhys receives top scores with 2013 vintage in latest Burghound

Rhys receives top scores with 2013 vintage in latest Burghound

by Allen Meadows, Burghound.com

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.

2013 Alesia Pinot Noir – Alder Springs Vineyard: (Mendocino County, 13.6%). There is a trace of menthol to the ripe and quite densely fruited dark berry and softly floral-scented nose. I very much like the volume and mid-palate concentration of the medium weight flavors that possess a seductively textured mouth feel, all wrapped in a dusty, balanced and lingering finale. This is really quite good as it’s generous but harmonious plus the complexity is excellent; indeed about the only nit worthy of notice is a mild touch of backend warmth. Note that this could easily be enjoyed young. 90/2019+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – San Mateo County: (12.9%). A cool, restrained and elegant if all but mute nose only grudgingly reveals pretty and notably airy aromas of red currant and cherry scents. There is good vibrancy to the delicious and caressing middle weight flavors that are lush and generous yet manage to retain good focus on the clean, dry and polished finale. This is not super complex at present but I very much like the delivery. Note further that while this could easily be enjoyed now I would be inclined to allow it 3 to 5 years of cellaring first with the goal of allowing more depth to develop. 89/2019+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Santa Cruz Mountains: (13%). Here the equally elegant nose is both more expressive and a bit more deeply pitched as well with its layered array of both red and dark pinot fruit, violet and lilac scents. There is a lovely sense of vibrancy to the detailed medium-bodied flavors that possess noticeably more mid-palate concentration as well as better depth and length. There isn’t the same finesse but there is undeniably more here. 90/2020+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Alpine Hillside: (Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.4%). An overtly floral-suffused nose offers up cool and admirably pure aromas of red cherry, pomegranate and subtle spice nuances. There is fine energy and volume to the lightly mineral-laden middle weight flavors that possess both good focus and delineation, all wrapped in a dusty and ever-so-mildly austere finale. This is beautifully harmonious and understated and while there is sufficient mid-palate fat to allow it to be enjoyed young, the supporting structure is sufficiently firm to suggest that it will require at least 5 to 7 years to soften and reward at least a decade’s worth. 92/2021+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Alpine Vineyard: (Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.8%). Here too there is a pronounced floral character to the slightly riper aromas of various red berries, in particular currant, along with hints of sandalwood and Asian-style tea. The lilting and wonderfully refined medium weight flavors exude a fine bead of minerality on the dusty, vibrant, restrained and equally understated finish. There is a touch of backend austerity and like the Alpine Hillside, this sleekly muscular effort is going to require extended bottle age to realize its full potential. 92/2021+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Bearwallow Vineyard: (Anderson Valley, 13%). A slightly riper nose offers notes of violet, plus, dark currant and black cherry that are trimmed in discreet spice and floral elements. There is a bit more volume and richness to the medium-bodied flavors that are generously proportioned and almost lush yet they tighten up on the delicious, dusty and sneaky long finish. This is texturally much different from the two Alpine cuvées with more flesh but less delicacy. 91/2020+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Family Farm Vineyard: (San Mateo County, 13.1%). There is a kirsch-like character to the almost entirely red berry fruit-suffused nose that display background nuances of spice, lilac and rose petal. The flavor profile is almost a combination of the Alpine and Bearwallow in that there is good volume and flesh yet there is a lovely sense of refinement and detail, all wrapped in a minerally, dusty, palate coating and once again sneaky long finale. There is an interesting contrast between the almost delicate mid-palate the robust finish and this possesses plenty of focused power. Excellent but make no mistake that this beauty is not only built-to-age but is going to need it. 93/2023+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Home Vineyard: (San Mateo County, 13%). Subtle if distinctly different notes of cigar tobacco and cedar add breadth to the pretty red cherry, pomegranate and plum aromas that are liberally laced with floral and tea nuances. There is a pronounced sense of vibrancy to the refreshing and inviting medium weight flavors that also possess really lovely delineation and a subtle minerality while delivering fine depth and length on the dusty, mouth coating and ever-so-mildly austere finish. This isn’t quite as powerful as the Family Farm but this is no shrinking violet in its own right, indeed it is almost rustic. 91/2021+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Horseshoe Hillside: (Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.8%). A much more deeply pitched nose features notes of black cherry, cassis, earth and plum scents that are trimmed in plenty of spice elements that include anise, clove and sandalwood along with a hint of hoisin. The big, rich and bold broad-shouldered flavors possess outstanding volume, size and weight all while remaining focused and harmonious on the robust, intense and very firmly structured finish. There is a remarkable amount of dry extract buffering the prominent tannic spine and it coats the palate and imparts a sappy character to the borderline chewy finale. It’s rare that I suggest an initial drinking window of more than 10 years for the vast majority of US pinots but in this case it is warranted. If you’re going to buy this do so with the intention of cellaring it for at least the medium- term. In short, this is a very serious ‘wow’ wine that is an absolute knock-out! 95/2025+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Horseshoe Vineyard: (San Mateo County, 12.5%). There are extremely subtle whispers of tar, tobacco and earth lurking in the background of the very deeply pitched aromas of black currant, plum, violets and soy. Like the Horseshoe Hillside this is a robust and muscular effort that possesses seriously good mid-palate concentration as the dry extract imparts a velvety texture as well as balancing off the firm but not hard tannins that shape the chewy, intense and strikingly persistent finish. As good as this is, and it is indeed very, very good, it doesn’t quite have the ‘wow’ factor of its counterpart. Still, this beauty is well-worth having in your cellar provided that you have the intent to cellar it for the longer-term. 93/2023+ 

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Porcupine Hill: (Anderson Valley, 12.7%). Here the nose exhibits enough reduction to warrant decanting this first if you’re tempted to try a bottle young in the name of science. That said it’s not so much as to completely dominate the otherwise fresh and pretty red berry and soft spice aromas. The round, supple and relatively forward middle weight flavors possess a lovely sense of underlying vibrancy before terminating in a dusty, focused and rather linear finish. This is pretty but it doesn’t possess the same mid-palate stuffing of the best in the range nor does it presently have the same depth. To be sure more complexity will almost certainly develop but this isn’t at the same level as the best in the range. 89/2019+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Skyline Vineyard: (Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.6%). This displayed enough reduction to push the fruit to the background and it was sufficiently prominent that I decanted it for an hour which turned out to be a good move as eventually the nose opened to reveal beautifully complex and spicy floral, spice and plum aromas. There is excellent verve and gorgeous delineation to the dense yet refined flavors that are supported by impressively fine-grained tannins on the sappy, mouth coating and wonderfully persistent finish. This is quite backwards and even with extended aeration it’s clear that this is built-to-age and is going to require it. 94/2023+

2013 Rhys Pinot Noir – Swan Terrace: (Santa Cruz Mountains, 12.2%). This is restrained to the point of being almost mute though aggressive swirling eventually coaxes notes of plum and black cherry along with an array of floral and spice nuances. There is excellent volume and power to the delicious and caressing middle weight plus flavors that also coat the palate with a copious amount of dry extract on the moderately austere, firm and very serious finale. This doesn’t have the same sense of harmony as the best here as there is a hint of dryness that may very well dissipate with a few years of bottle age but at present it’s a bit edgy. 91?/2021+

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