2011 Rhys "Skyline Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah

SKU #1248521 96 points John Gilman

 The 2011 Rhys Syrah from the Skyline Vineyard tips the scales at a robust 13.5 percent alcohol, which is pretty impressive for the cool 2011 growing season. The wine is absolutely stunning, soaring from the glass in a vibrant blend of black raspberries, smoked meats, a touch of black olive, black pepper, stony soil tones, dark chocolate, a discrete framing of spicy new wood and a smoky topnote. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and beautifully complex, with a superb core of fruit, ripe tannins, tangy acids and outstanding length and grip on the focused and very classy finish. This is very Hermitage-like and stylistically harkens back to the great old days at Chave. (Drink between 2019-2040)  (8/2014)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Deep ruby. Heady, exotically perfumed scents of dark berry liqueur, Asian spices, potpourri and olive, with a mineral quality adding lift. Sappy cherry-cola and black raspberry flavors pick up a refreshingly bitter edge with air and show excellent clarity and power. Takes a turn to red fruit on the spicy, persistent finish, which leaves a sexy floral note behind. This wine was made with two-thirds whole clusters. (JR)  (6/2014)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Sporting a classic, cool-climate bouquet of blackberry, black raspberry, wood smoke, olive tapenade and gamy meats, with an almost Cornas-like bloodiness, the 2011 Syrah Skyline Vineyard hits the palate with a medium-bodied, supple, rounded, yet beautifully balanced profile. Nicely concentrated, with good mid-palate density, it has sweet tannin, integrated acidity and surprising persistence on the finish. It's drinking beautifully now, but I've no doubts it will evolve nicely over the coming decade. (JD)  (4/2015)

91 points Vinous

 Iron, red stone fruits, mint, leather and game meld together in the 2011 Syrah Skyline Vineyard. A powerful, intense Syrah with distinctly ferrous overtones, the 2011 Skyline boasts terrific balance and plenty of personality, especially within the context of the year. The 2011 was done entirely in neutral oak with 100% whole clusters. Sadly, 2012 will be the last vintage of Syrah in the Skyline Vineyard, as the plants have been ripped out in favor of Pinot Noir. (AG)  (7/2014)

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- One of France's noblest black grape varieties, Syrah is known for its intense and distinctive perfume reminiscent of briar fruit, tar, spice and black pepper and its firm structure. One of few black grape varietals frequently vinified on its own, the best examples of Syrah come from the Northern Rhône, particularly Hermitage, but also Côte-Rôtie, Cornas, Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph. These wines are very astringent in their youth, though some Crozes-Hermitage and St-Joseph can be enjoyed young, relatively speaking. Given the requisite patience, though, these wines can reveal amazing complexity and secondary fruit characteristics like plum and blackcurrant as well as subtle hints of smoke and flowers. In the Southern Rhône, Syrah is used to add structure and complexity to wines dominated by Grenache and complemented by Mourvèdre, like the more immediately drinkable Côte du Rhônes, as well as the long-lived wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. In recent years, plantings of Syrah have spread throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon where it is produced on its own or blended with other varietals. Outside of France, the most important Syrah growing country is easily Australia, where it is called Shiraz. Quality levels here depend greatly on yields and geography, and the wines range from bold, fruity and easy-drinking to intense and ageable, like the famed Penfolds Grange. Often bottled on its own, in Australia Syrah is also can be blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre, as in the Southern Rhône, and is increasingly combined with Cabernet Sauvignon. Syrah has also been steadily increasing in popularity in California, thanks to a group of advocates called the Rhône Rangers. Its most successful iterations come from the Central and Sonoma Coasts, where winemakers are pushing boundaries and creating some incredible wines. In recent years Syrah has also found a number of proponents in Washington State, which is definitely a region to watch for this variety.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
Specific Appellation:

Santa Cruz Mountains

- Vineyards dot the valleys and ridges of this coastal AVA just south of San Francisco. Microclimates make it difficult to generalize, and vineyards are frequently separated by acres of forests and meadowlands (not to mention entire towns!), but this is nonetheless known as a cooler-climate zone ideal for pinot noir. Ridge is doubtless the most famous local producer, with its cabernet blend, Monte Bello, named after a Santa Cruz mountain peak. High-quality, low-production chardonnay and some Rhône varietals prosper as well.