Saturday was the spring pick-up day and open house at Rhys Vineyards. Cellarmaster Josh Beck was pouring a selection of as yet unreleased wines at their facility in San Carlos. This will probably be the last event held here as the new winery is nearly completed.
According to Josh, they are very pleased with the way the 2008s are turning out. 2007 has been recognised as an excellent vintage, with remarkable concentration and depth, but the wines are already starting to shut down, needing a lot of air to show well. On the other hand the 2008s are more elegant and feminine; though they may lack some of the concentration they are expected to show better when young (though still to age well).
The wines had been opened the night before to check for cork taint.
2008 Alesia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
The 2008 vintage in Sonoma was significantly weaker than 2007. As a result there will be no Alesia releases from Green Valley or Falstaff; the fruit all went into the Sonoma Coast bottling. 2008 is planned to be the last vintage for the Alesia label, since all the Santa Cruz Mountains estate vineyards are now on line.
On the nose there's cola, red fruit and some rose petals. Light bodied with good acidity and nice red currant flavours. 88
2008 Family Farm Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose shows some black, brambly fruit. On the palate it's fairly rich with black cherry, firm tannins (compared to the Sonoma Coast at least) and a stemmy finish. 90+
2008 Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
This had the darkest colour of the Pinots. An interesting, complex, floral nose with some redcurrant. Rich and more intense than any of the others; still very primal but has very good structure and a long finish. 93+
2007 Horseshoe Ranch Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains
The first vintage of Syrah from Horseshoe Ranch. Unlike most Rhys wines this was 100% destemmed. (The 2008 was not destemmed. The 2009 vintage was ruined by the rains and is unlikely to be released)
Nose is floral, with violets and some dusty oak. Much more concentrated and structured than a Fairview Ranch that I tasted recently. Lovely fruit, nice black pepper notes and a pretty, floral finish. Lots of potential; very good indeed. 92+
2008 Bearwallow Vineyard, Anderson Valley
Bearwallow is the first estate vineyard outside the Santa Cruz Mountains. It is in the process of being replanted, but already had some established vines in place Pommard, 777 and 115 clones. Those will be replaced in due course.
Cherry, strawberry nose. Lots of dry, astringent tannin; there's good fruit but it's rather in the background at this stage. Somewhat different to the other Rhys wines, but still good. 90