Rhys: Alpine Vineyard
Rhys: Alpine Vineyard

Rhys has quickly risen to fame producing what many believe to be the new reference point for Pinot Noir in California today. I can tell you that I’ve been a fan for years. Their single vineyard bottles are already enjoying cult status. The goal here is to produce unique and expressive Pinot, Syrah and Chardonnay from rocky soils that exist within the mountainous, cool, coastal climates of California. Owner Kevin Harvey and winemaker Jeff Brinkman have been experimenting for 15 years with their vineyards, vinification and aging. The results are obvious, as with each vintage this Santa Cruz property is gaining momentum and more loyal followers.

Rhys: Barrel Aging Cave
Rhys: Barrel Aging Cave

The wines from Rhys continue to become very difficult to obtain, with a waiting list to boot, yet the winery has been determined to make their wines more available to a wider market, and that’s where the Rhys Pinot Noir San Mateo County comes into play. San Mateo is a blend of barrels from their esteemed Alpine, Horseshoe and Family Farm vineyards. They are treated to the same rigorous farming and winemaking as the single vineyard pinots. Frankly, this is not an entry-level wine in any way, and Rhys could have slapped a much higher price tag on this offering—my hat’s off to them.  The San Mateo Pinot Noir has officially found some space in my cellar. If you want to understand what Rhys is capable of, this is the place to start.

With a two-hour decant, the 2010 Rhys Pinot Noir San Mateo was singing. It was an immediate hit with everyone tasting it. What really stole the show was the bouquet, with its fruit, earth and that beautiful citrus note that brought it all home. On the palate, it was beautifully defined and elegant with radiant red fruits. Talk about a head-turner, plus a great introduction to RHYS for my guests.

RHYS-42010 Rhys Pinot Noir San Mateo County – What a gorgeous glass of wine. The nose was slender yet beautifully focused with tart cherry and cranberry up front with a whiff of grapefruit, which was followed by a soothing note of nutmeg and contrasted by soil and floral tones. On the palate, it was soft with medium weight and elegance; slowly revealing its layers as an initial burst of juicy red fruit gave way to citrus notes and inner floral tones. The finish was shorter than I anticipated, yet still completely satisfying with hints of red berries and an autumnal, earthy note which I usually associate with well-aged Nebbiolo. What more could I ask for? (94 points)

Article and Tasting Note by: Eric Guido