Alpine Vineyard, Chardonnay, 2015

  Rhys Vineyards

Contains Sulphites.

About Rhys Vineyards

Kevin Harvey’s Rhys Vineyards has built up a near cult like following in just a decade of releases. His bottlings of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah from both the Santa Cruz Mountains and now also the Anderson Valley in Mendocino are rightly seen as amongst the very top echelon of wines produced anywhere in the United States.

Everything about these wines speaks of attention to detail and a deep commitment to making great wine. From purchasing uncoopered staves of the finest French oak a full four years prior to cooperage, to the vast underground purpose built winemaking cellar, no detail is left to chance. In the often steep vineyards, vine density is extremely high and as a result farming is entirely manual and very labour intensive. In the winery, vinification is carried out at a micro-level in tiny 4ft square vats: fermentations are native and everything is gravity-fed without pumping, fining or filtration. In essence, the wines are given kid gloves treatment, and then aged in almost neutral French barrels, so better to promote the site specific characters of the vineyards in the portfolio.

Fortunately, as a man who made his fortune backing successful projects as a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, Kevin Harvey can afford this level of detail. His passion was ignited by a bottle of Russian River Pinot which led him to experiment in his backyard up in the Santa Cruz mountains (now the Home Vineyard). Astounded by the raw potential, this soon blossomed into the hunt for a very particular type of vineyard site. Inspired by the Grand Crus of Burgundy, Kevin went in search of some of the coolest hillside sites in the region, with shallow top soils and plenty of rocks. His aim was to push Pinot Noir to its Californian limits, forcing grapes to ripen fully while retaining a natural tension and minerality, all the while at remarkably low levels of alcohol (generally the wines fall between 12% and 13.5% abv).

And what of the finished wines? Well it goes without saying, we adore them. Precise, pure flavours abound; the wines have silken mineral textures, tension, freshness, great acidity, subtle yet commanding profiles, plenty of stony earthy complexity and the transparency of truly great Pinot Noir. Needless to say, they also have plenty of propensity for ageing. They possess none of the heaviness or syrup-like textures of so many big Cali Pinots, nor do they wear you out with excessive alcohol, or reliance on oak. They taste like Premier and Grand Cru Burgundies made with a little Californian Sunshine.

Appellation: Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Mountains is, as its name suggests, a mountainous AVA that sits between Monterey Bay and San Francisco. The rugged terroir in the mountains can be extremely trying for vignerons, but those who persevere are rewarded with some of California's most celebrated wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grape Type: Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most widely-grown and versatile of all white grape varieties. As a relatively neutral grape, it offers a near transparent map of winemaking style, climate and terroir. It is the ideal grape variety for Burgundy, where it serves to mirror the complex nuances of the myriad of terroirs found in this hallowed land. Chardonnay produces a variety of wines from the minerally and unoaked styles found in Chablis, the fatter nuttier examples in Meursault, to the tropical fruit-driven versions found in the New World. It is also the major grape variety in Champagne, where it produces lively floral wines, namely in the Côte de Blancs. It can be found throughout Europe and the New World thanks to its versatility. As a non-aromatic variety, it has an affinity with oak, whether new or used, French or American.