“Alesia is back!” Antonio Galloni

“Alesia is back!” Antonio Galloni
Customers familiar with the terrific Rhys Vineyards wines will recognise their skill at crafting some of California’s most exciting and incisive Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The project, owned by tech venture capitalist Kevin Harvey, is justly considered as one of California’s most detail obsessed producers of fine single vineyard terroir driven Burgundian varieties. Their home is the Santa Cruz mountains, south of San Francisco, right on the San Andreas fault, where millions of years of tectonic activity have produced soils of enormous complexity and variety. Searching out particularly rocky vineyards, planting at very-high densities and vinifying as neutrally as possible allows Kevin and Jeff Brinkman (Rhys’ winemaker) to produce a range of wines as individual as they are captivating. Alas, quantities of the top single vineyard wines are tiny, but do look out for the 2016s which will be releasing later in the month.

For a more immediate look at Rhys brilliance there is the Alesia label. Previously a sister label, Alesia is now (from 2016) entirely produced from estate grown fruit and the uplift in quality is remarkable. The Pinot Noir now includes all of their Parajo vineyard fruit (soon to be a vineyard designate); a high density planting from the South of the Santa Cruz Mountains, while the Chardonnay comes from a variety of estate single vineyard sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The 2016s are in a superb place today, showing plenty of Santa Cruz minerality and high altitude freshness to go with their Californian charm. The Pinot is hugely moreish yet has an almost Burgundian shape on the finish, as crushed rocks and stones take over from the delicate fruit; the Chardonnay is saline, classy and composed, with lovely purity and measured but beautifully ripe fruit interwoven with delicate butter notes.

“Rhys's obsessively planted and tended vineyards are currently producing some of the most ambitious Pinot Noir being made anywhere in the world. Some fine Chardonnay too.” Jancis Robinson

“The 2016 Alesia Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains is superb, unfurling in the glass with notes of fresh pear, preserved citrus, lemon oil and a light framing of smoky reduction…. one of the keenest values in the Rhys portfolio. Follow it for a decade, perhaps more." 92/100 William Kelley

“The 2016 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains) is a classy, elegant wine. Expressive aromatics add to the wine's finessed personality and overall feel. Citrus peel, white flowers, mint and white pepper add complexity throughout. There is plenty to like in this chiselled, nuanced Chardonnay from Rhys.”90/100 Antoni Galloni

“The 2016 Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains) is a terrific appellation-level wine. Lifted and gracious, with terrific energy and cut, the 2016 is super-expressive today. Bright red cherry, orange peel, mint and chalky notes give the 2016 is attractive aromatic top notes to play off the wine's energetic personality. The 2016 includes all the fruit from Rhys's new Mt. Pajaro vineyard.” 92/100 Antonio Galloni