Rhys Vineyard 2016

Rhys Vineyard 2016
Rhys Vineyards produces some of our favourite Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in the whole of the US. Over the past two decades their single vineyard sites have been selected and planted with an eye on the finest sites in Burgundy, albeit at elevations up to 700m and very different soils to Burgundy’s clay and limestone. The San Andreas fault runs straight through the Santa Cruz mountains - millions of years of tectonic activity has resulted in a patchwork of rocky soils running the gamut from shale to schist to sandstone and limestone. Below and to the east you drop into Silicon Valley and the North American plate, to the West the cooling influence of the Pacific ocean and its own tectonic plate.

2016 is a vintage of stunning quality at Rhys. Tasting them last month we were thrilled at the sheer precision and fine weighting that runs across the range. Structurally they are more lithe than their 2015 counterparts, with a greater sense of nuance and refinement. Antonio Gallonio sings their praises, referring to them as “a positively stellar set of wines”, while Jeff Brinkman, Rhys’ Winemaker was equally bold in his assertion that “these are without question the best wines we’ve produced since 2012”.

The keys to the vintage lie firstly in plentiful winter rain preceding what was essentially another drought growing season. Secondly, a mild August with cool nights set the tempo for a measured, even keeled final maturation and a harvest carried out in calm conditions. This allowed every densely planted low-yielding plot to be selected at optimal ripening, often over multiple pickings. The resulting range is the best we’ve tasted – a masterclass in transparency and site. Whilst the 2014s had depth and structure, and the 2015s were characterised by a sense of heft and power, this range of 2016s is defined by grace and poise, texture, detail and finesse. As ever, Rhys manage to pack in a huge amount of complexity and intensity, not to mention marked site characteristics, while maintaining very moderate alcoholic strengths of between 12.2 and 13%.