Rhys 2008 TNs/TNR

Rhys had a little pickup event in San Carlos yesterday at which they poured 4 wines that will be released this fall. I took down some very quick impressions, but if anyone else was there, I welcome your input.

A word about balance. I am guilty of describing many a wine with no obvious flaws as “balanced” but these Rhys wines remind me that there is a range between “non unbalanced” and “truly balanced and refined.” All these wines feature very long finishes that come from a combination of fruit extract, tannin structure, and impeccable I-just-can’t-believe-it sugar/acid balance. As the Wine Spectator might say, the finish sails on and on. So, while I didn’t contemplate every flavor adjective on the wheel in my fairly brief stopover, I am excited about these wines in terms of style, terroir, and craft.

2008 Alesia Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – the last Alesia wine. For 2008, several vineyard sources were blended to make a single Alesia release, which I guess would include grapes from Falstaff Road and Green Valley, but I didn’t confirm this. (What a lousy journalism teacher!) This wine presents bright red fruits including cranberry on the attack as well as some more fleshy apple-skin character through the mid-palate. 89-91

2008 Family Farm Pinot Noir – the whole cluster treatment was more transparent in this wine and the subsequent Alpine. Compared to the Sonoma Coast, the Family Farm had more earth and mineral tones alongside the red apple foundation. 90-92

2008 Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir – whoa. Whoa. This is on a whole other level, with black fruit and tea joining the party. Complex and structured, this is a wine to lay down. I have little context to evaluate this but I could taste it for a looong time. 91-95

2007 Horseshoe Vineyard Syrah – lovely cool climate aromas introduce this gem of a Syrah, with a pepper and smoke medley throughout the light black fruit palate. Only a few hints of blue fruit can be found, and I’d put this on the savory side of my preferred Syrah spectrum, but the natural complexity of the fruit unfolds throughout the impossibly long finish. This wine has a great sense of lift; to me, it isn’t restrained just to avoid being heavy or big, the restraint allows for some transparency and it works because it doesn’t shorten the wine. Will this shut down? It is drinking so well now. 92-95.

Also kudos to Rhys for absorbing 10 styrofoam case shippers from my garage. Good riddance!

Thanks for your impressions. Living on the other side of the country prevented me from attending the pick-up event, but it is nice to get a preview of the upcoming releases.


Great notes - your summary and score ranges seem appropriate. Time will tell on the 2 Estate Pinots and how they resolve over the next 6-12 months. My overall impressions (brief version) are below:

08 Sonoma Coast:

  • Much more approachable then I expected. A very nice and balanced wine. I expect not at the level of the 07 Sonoma’s (have not tasted) but a great appallation wine which should offer tremendous value. I believe Josh mentioned these were opened the day before (Friday) thus I expect they might be a bit tight now but should be very drinkable upon release.

08 Family Farm:

  • More restrained nose then the others, in fact, I didn’t get much on the nose. The wine (and facility) was pretty cold thus it might have put more off if warmer. Overall, this felt much tighter then the others. That said, likely going to be another outstanding effort. I got floral notes and loads of acid…

08 Alpine:

  • I recall Kevin saying he felt this was the best Alpine yet. Given the sample, I look forward to watching this evolve from here. I thought it was a tremendous wine with complex layers. Warming in my hands ‘let it out’ a bit and allowed for greater appreciation. This was the best of class for these 3 Pinots and will be a worthy purchase come Fall.

08 Horseshoe Syrah:

  • I don’t drink a lot of Syrah, but this was good stuff. Not my favorite of the Rhys/Alesia Syrahs as there is one I like mo’ betta’, but this was a treat to taste. Great job on crafting this one!

Thanks for the notes!

Read in a post a few months back that Kevin felt that 2008 might be a better vintage at Rhys than 2007. Did anyone have that impression?

Scary. Time for me to get a second job!


Yeah…although maybe I can persuade my wife to get a second job.

You make a good point. I am sure my wife would sacrifice to make sure I have the time and resources to drink more wine. [berserker.gif]


and another +1 [welldone.gif]

Please, do tell. Which one?

Reposted from my blog

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

Wish I could have made it to the event to try it. Love the fact that is will be unique and different.

I got a chance to taste the 07 Skyline Syrah, it was my second favorite of the tasting behind the 07 horseshoe pinot. The Horseshoe Syrah sounds like it has real potential.