Rhys Vineyards produces very ambitious wines from vines planted in specific sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains...it is almost impossible to latch on to a few bottles unless you are on the mailing list. The vineyards are generally tightly spaced (2 by 3 feet for Pinot Noir and 4 by 3 feet for Syrah), and the clonal selections are multiple in order to hopefully achieve more complexity and nuance. This is an impressive, well thought out operation, believing, certainly with Pinot Noir, in whole clusters, no racking, and a minimal, artisinal approach to winemaking. The yields are naturally very small because of the terroirs, rootstocks, and clones, and the wines are made to age. (RP)
While understandably similar to the straight Alpine, there are some differences, in particular that the floral component from the stems is even more apparent and the fruit is ever-so-slightly fresher if not more complex or elegant. The flavor profile itself is also similar but again, there are subtle distinctions such as the slightly better detail and delineation on the mid-palate and the finish displays notably more structure that confers a dusty quality to the sappy finish. This is terrific and should also be capable of aging gracefully for up to a decade. As someone who samples hundreds of examples every year, I can tell you that it's extremely rare yet these wines are phenolically ripe and beautifully balanced. I am excited to see what the Rhys '07s become in 10 years as they are unapologetically built to age. If you're not on the mailing list but enjoy serious and structured but elegant pinot, then I would strongly suggest adding your name to it. I would note that all of these wines benefited substantially from extended airing, which means at least one hour in advance and two would be better - just remember not to let them warm up too much.
Saturated red. Explosively perfumed aromas of red and dark berries, graphite, wilted rose and incense. Spicy raspberry and boysenberry flavors reach every corner of the palate, picking up floral pastille, succulent herb and anise qualities with air. Manages to be both powerful and weightless, and boasts excellent finishing clarity and mineral thrust. (ST)
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