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At 2,360 feet above sea level, the Skyline vineyard is one of the highest altitude sites for Pinot Noir in California. Cold nights are balanced by the purity of the sunlight this high above the fog line. The rocky, extremely thin soils here are fractured mudstone, sandstone, and limestone.This is the most monumentally structured of the Rhys wines, its chiseled architecture needing a number of years of mellowing to approach the great heights that a well-aged Skyline Pinot can attain. The electricity quivers like atomic nuclei across all aspects of this wine, and the nascent savory spice character will begin to bloom with cellarage, though this wine is quite forceful and impressive upon first contact. With 5+ years of aging these wines turn into some of the most distinctive, terroir-expressive wines produced in the Western Hemisphere, and with correct cellaring can last for up to two decades. Andrew Farquhar
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
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
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
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
The 2011 Rhys Pinot Noir Anderson Valley Bearwallow Vineyard was one of the most enjoyable bottles that I've had from the US, and I'm rejoicing that Rhys has decided to make affordable, early-drinking Pinot Noir from this same vineyard. On the nose, the wine is quite expressive with ripe red cherry and raspberry fruit and elegant red floral notes reminiscent of Chambolle-Musigny or Volnay. The palate is equally expressive with black raspberry and cherry fruit, freshly tilled soil, and baking spice flavors. The lithe core of black fruit is surrounded by well-integrated tannins. Jonas Mendoza
This Pinot Noir is sourced from the original vineyard planted by the estate in 1995. Beginning at just a quarter of an acre and expanding to a whopping 1.4 acres in 2007, this little gem of a vineyard produces very little wine. Located at between 450 and 500 feet above sea level, the lowest altitude, southwestern edge of the vineyard lies directly on the San Andreas Fault. The soil is clay loam situated atop the Whiskey Hill formation of decomposed sandstone. The wines are fermented whole cluster and aged in oak with minimal influence of new wood. The wine has a soft, lambent sprightliness, with elegant crystalline structure and beautiful, soft, rounded red and black berry fruit. This a wine that will improve for up to fifteen years in bottle but that is also approachable now. Andrew Farquhar