Alpine Vineyard. Hillside parcel is to the right of the dirt track (courtesy of Rhys Vineyards website)

Lillian and Rhys

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Today we have an incredible offering of California wines from two excellent producers, Lillian and Rhys. Lillian was founded by Maggie Harrison, once an assistant at Sine Qua Non and currently winemaker at Antica Terra in Oregon. Today we focus entirely on her Syrah, of which we have quite the list of back vintages! These Syrahs are all sourced from three vineyards in Santa Barbara: Bien Nacido, Stolpman, and Whitehawk. Her emphasis is less on making wines consistently from one parcel or another. In her own words, "as with all wines that I make, I am not committed to any outcome (number of cuvées, percentage of new oak or alcohol, cépage, etc.); instead, I prefer to work at the most granular level, making decisions for each vine, each micro block, fermenter and barrel independently, focusing only on the most beautiful action in any moment and the most compelling reflection of that vintage in our cellar and in our hands."

Rhys is also one of our very favorite producers in the United States, focusing on high-altitude hillside vineyards. All their vineyard sites are located in the Santa Cruz Mountains except one, the Bearwallow vineyard, located in the Anderson Valley. Today we are excited to offer a collection of Rhys single-vineyard wines, predominantly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a little Syrah, going back a decade. We have, represented here, wines from every one of their vineyards, with the opportunity to mix and match and experience single sites, or grapes across the same vintage, or verticals. All wines are available today. Andrew Farquhar

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Rhys 2013 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay Horseshoe Vyd

In a little more than ten years, owner Kevin Harvey and winemaker Jim Brinkman have seemed to have cracked the code for making world-class, ageworthy Chardonnay in Santa Cruz. Horseshoe Vineyard lies on a ridge of sedimentary shale and a base of sedimentary rock and volcanic ash. The combination of shallow fractured soils, cooling marine influence, and a warm dry season have produced a Chardonnay worthy of comparison to their Burgundian counterparts. Rich lemon curd and ripe peach flavors deftly weave with briny, saline undertones. The finish is long and persistent. A Chardonnay worthy of a very special occasion. Jonas Mendoza

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Rhys 2013 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir Alpine Hillside

Alpine Vineyard is located only half a mile from Horseshoe Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, but the shale and chalky soils produce Pinot Noirs with more elegance and less raw, coiled power. Compared with Rhys' Horseshoe Vineyard Pinot Noir, there's more densely ripe black cherry fruit, but the texture is lush and polished with the signature minerality that defines Rhys' Chardonnays and Pinots. I would drink Alpine Vineyard now, and cellar Horseshoe Vineyard, but wouldn't fault if you wanted to save this for a special occasion. Jonas Mendoza

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Rhys 2013 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir Horseshoe Vyd

Rhys grows both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on Horseshoe Vineyard, a ridge of sedimentary shale on a base of sedimentary rock and volcanic ash in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. The 2013 Rhys has great power with ripe black cherry fruit with brambly and dark chocolate undertones. The minerality is persistent and framed by an elegantly tannic finish. A recent tasting of the Rhys 2013s demonstrates that this wine is drinking beautifully now, but will reward patience in spades if cellared for 5-10 years. Jonas Mendoza

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Rhys 2014 Anderson Valley Chardonnay

This Chardonnay comes from younger vines in Rhys' Anderson Valley Bearwallow Vineyard, and aged for 14 months in 20% new French oak barrels. Like a riper Chablis, there are notes of zesty lemon, white nectarine, and just-ripe peach. On the palate, lemon juice, lemon pith, and saline flavors with bright acidity and a tight mineral core.A perfect introduction to Rhys' stunning Chardonnays. Jonas Mendoza

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