Rhys’s 2012s garner top scores in IWC

Rhys’s 2012s garner top scores in IWC

by Josh Raynolds, Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (May 2014)

Kevin Harvey and his winemaker Jeff Brinkman, who aren’t exactly prone to overstatement, told me that 2012 was “a godsend after 2011, in a yield sense,” but they’re not writing off ’11.  Harvey describes his ’11s as wines that show their place while 2012 was an example of Mother Nature at her benign best, “and definitely too generous if you wanted to go that way.”  Harvey’s investment in the Bearwallow vineyard up north, in the Anderson Valley, is a big focus here right now.  Brinkman said that moving outside their home zone of the Santa Cruz Mountains has given the team the chance to further expand the game of “soil plus exposure plus climate plus rootstock plus clone” and what comes from it (he compared it to 3-D chess) by getting to understand a place that’s completely removed from their home base.  The 2012 vintage brought Rhys the highest acidity levels in its fruit to date, by the way.

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Vivid ruby-red.  Intensely perfumed, mineral-driven red berry, blood orange and potpourri aromas are complemented by deeper-pitched notes of cola and smoky Indian spices.  Sweet, focused and light on its feet, offering intense raspberry and bitter cherry flavors and a silky, seamless texture.  The mineral quality comes back on the endless finish, which is strikingly pure, focused and gently tannic.  I was reminded of a high-end Chambolle-Musigny when I tasted this balanced but intensely flavored wine and suspect that it will age slowly and gracefully over at least the coming decade. 95

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Ruby-red.  Explosively perfumed cherry-cola, dark berry liqueur, incense and mineral aromas show superb clarity and depth, with a sexy floral quality building with air.  Offers palate-staining black raspberry and spicecake flavors that become sweeter and deeper with air.  This rich but strikingly lithe and tensile pinot deftly plays power and depth off of vivacity and finishes sweet, youthfully tannic and extremely long.  One of the most impressive pinots I’ve tasted from the New World, or Burgundy for that matter, in quite a while. 95

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($99)
(made entirely with whole clusters; 12.8% alcohol):  Bright ruby.  Flamboyant aromas of candied dark berries, incense and Asian spices, with a zesty mineral quality adding lift and vivacity.  Stains the palate with energetic black raspberry and boysenberry flavors and picks up an exotic blood orange nuance with air.  Pure, focused and spicy on the finish, firmed by silky, slow-building tannins.  The power and flavor depth of this strikingly concentrated but lithe wine belie its low alcohol content. 95

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard Swan Terrace Santa Cruz Mountains($99)
(all whole clusters and 12.3% alcohol):  Brilliant ruby.  Heady, mineral-accented aromas of black raspberry, cherry and potpourri, with a spicy quality gaining volume with air.  Shows a darker fruit character on the palate, displaying intense cherry and blackberry flavors and a sexy floral pastille nuance.  Chewy and tightly focused, finishing with superb clarity and power and smooth, slow-mounting tannins that fade into the lush, sappy fruit. 94

2012 Rhys Vineyards Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Green-tinged yellow.  An intense, mineral-dominated bouquet evokes fresh orchard and citrus fruits, iodine, anise and white flowers.  Stains the palate with densely packed pear and Meyer lemon flavors; picks up a smokiness with air.  Chalky, penetrating and pure on the finish, which refuses to let up. 94

2012 Rhys Vineyards Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Bright greenish yellow.  Intensely perfumed bouquet of fresh orchard and citrus fruits, with complex iodine, mineral and jasmine qualities building with air.  Concentrated but lithe and precise, offering slow-to-unfold bitter pear skin and quinine flavors that pick up sweetness and a hint of gingery spices with air.  The mineral element dominates the finish, which shows excellent clarity and lingering florality. 94

2011 Rhys Vineyards Syrah Skyline Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Deep ruby.  Heady, exotically perfumed scents of dark berry liqueur, Asian spices, potpourri and olive, with a mineral quality adding lift.  Sappy cherry-cola and black raspberry flavors pick up a refreshingly bitter edge with air and show excellent clarity and power.  Takes a turn to red fruit on the spicy, persistent finish, which leaves a sexy floral note behind.  This wine was made with two-thirds whole clusters.   94

2011 Rhys Vineyards Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains($69)
Inky ruby.  Heady cherry compote, blackberry, olive and cola scents are sharpened by cracked pepper and minerals.  Stains the palate with sweet dark fruit and floral pastille flavors, showing uncommon density and power for the vintage while remaining fresh and energetic.  Bitter cherry and spicecake qualities carry through the finish, which is firmed by dusty, building tannins and juicy acidity.  94

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Home Vineyard San Mateo County($79)
Deep red.  Powerful scents of red fruit liqueur, Asian spices, violet and woodsmoke are lifted by a stony nuance.  In the mouth, vibrant cherry and floral pastille flavors are joined by a building touch of spicecake.  Dusty tannins add grip to the extremely long finish, which strongly echoes the floral and spicecake notes.  This youthful wine is built to age. 93

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Family Farm Vineyard San Mateo County($59)
Bright ruby-red.  High-pitched red berry and potpourri scents show excellent clarity.  Juicy, spicy and vibrant on the palate, offering sweet raspberry and candied rose flavors and a touch of blood orange.  Takes a darker turn to blackberry with air and finishes long, spicy and gently tannic. 92

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard Anderson Valley($59)
Lurid ruby-red.  Lively cherry and redcurrant on the nose, with suave floral and Asian spice nuances adding complexity.  Mineral-accented red and dark berry flavors are concentrated but youthfully taut, with a sneaky herbal note adding complexity.  Closes zesty and long, with excellent clarity and length and fine-grained tannins.  92

2012 Rhys Vineyards Pinot Noir San Mateo County($45)
Bright ruby.  Pungent dark berries and cherry on the nose, with smoky mineral and rose nuances adding complexity.  On the palate, juicy blackberry and bitter cherry flavors are complicated by suggestions of licorice and candied rose.  Spreads out nicely on the finish, which is framed by supple, well-knit tannins.  This sexy pinot is delicious right now. 91

2011 Alesia Syrah Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino County($45)
(made with 40% whole clusters):  Opaque ruby.  Smoky, deeply pitched aromas of dark berry preserves, olive, violet oil and cracked pepper, with a minerally nuance adding lift.  Intense blackberry and bitter cherry flavors put on weight with air and are sharpened by juicy acidity.  Finishes sappy and long, with slow-building tannins and excellent clarity. 92

2012 Alesia Chardonnay Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino County($39)
Green-tinged gold.  Exotic mango, tangerine and gingerbread scents, with notes of anise and iodine.  Quite extroverted by Rhys standards, offering intense tropical fruit and orange marmalade flavors and a touch of bitter pear skin.  Firms up on the finish, which lingers with strong, smoky persistence. 91

2012 Alesia Pinot Noir Alder Springs Vineyard Mendocino County($45)
(made from fruit picked at between 20 and 22 degrees Brix):  Ruby-red.  Aromas of cherry-cola, sassafras and Asian spices, with a hint of mocha in the background.  Fleshy but lively and precise, offering intense dark berry and floral pastille flavors and a touch of licorice.  Closes on a boysenberry note, with supple tannins making a late appearance.  Kevin Harvey told me that this vineyard’s fruit “reached maturity at ridiculously low sugar levels.” 91 (JR)

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