2011 Rhys "Alpine Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

SKU #1170576 95 points Vinous

 The 2011 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard shows the broad shoulders typical of so many Santa Cruz Mountain Chardonnays. Honey, almonds, crème brulee and apricot jam are all layered into the finish. The Alpine is a little more overt and exotic than the Horseshoe at this stage. It is an exceptionally beautiful, totally dazzling wine. (AG)  (7/2013)

94 points John Gilman

 he 2011 Alpine Vineyard chardonnay from Rhys Vineyards is another absolutely stellar bottle in the making, offering up a deep, pure and magically complex bouquet of delicious apple, buttered pears, orange peel, a nice touch of leesiness, a very complex base of stony soil tones, a bit of hazelnut, very suave framing of new oak and a touch of smokiness in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and tightly-knit, with great nascent complexity, a superb core, bright, zesty acids and outstanding length and grip on the very classy finish. This almost has a bit of Meursault-like personality to it, and like the 2011 Horseshoe Vineyard, this wine will age impeccably well on its seamless balance and will be even better with a few years’ worth of cellaring to unlock its secondary layers of complexity. A great wine. (Drink between 2013-2025)  (6/2013)

93 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 A small click back from the 2012, the 2011 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard is slightly deeper in color, with more apple, honeyed citrus, brioche, hazelnut and lemon cream giving way to a medium-bodied, layered, nicely concentrated and balanced feel on the palate. Freshening up in the glass, this is a classic, high-quality Chardonnay that will continue to evolve gracefully over the coming 7-8 years (and probably longer). (JD)  (4/2015)

93 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Vivid gold. Spice-accented aromas of peach pit, tangerine and white flowers, with a buttery nuance adding depth. Shows very good energy, offering sappy orchard and pit fruit flavors and a touch of bitter citrus pith. Finishes smoky and long, with resonating floral and toasted nut notes and suave minerality. (ST)  (6/2013)

K&L Notes

Producer note: The estate wines of Rhys Vineyards are made from organic and biodynamically farmed fruit. Owner Kevin Harvey and winemaker Jeff Brinkman continue to fashion truly remarkable wines, indeed they are consistently among the best examples that California has to offer. At each of their vineyards sites over 75% of the land is left in a completely natural state. In addition to the native wildlife, they plant herbs, flowers, vegetables and grain crops while free ranging chickens and sheep also help naturally fertilize the vineyards. This is all part of their philosophy that creating a living soil creates better wine. Their winemaking process, from harvest to bottling, is based on a gravity system and the wines are never pumped, fined, or filtered. Readers should be aware that the Rhys wines are clearly fashioned in a built-to-age style and thus are most assuredly not intended to show their best young. Thus, I would suggest that if you're going to buy them, do so with the intent to allow for at least a few years of bottle age.

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Price: $74.99
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- It's hard to believe that up until about 30 years ago, this extremely popular varietal hid behind the veil of geographical names like Chablis and Puligny-Montrachet. Now grown all over the world and bottled by its varietal name, Chardonnay has achieved a level of branding unlike any other wine. Surprisingly, though, what you get when you buy Chardonnay can differ greatly from country to country and even within one country, depending on the climate where it's grown and how it is vinified and aged. From fresh, crisp and minerally with apple and lemon notes to rich and buttery with tropical fruit overtones, Chardonnay runs the gamut. In France's Burgundy, Chardonnay is the source of the prized wines of Chablis, Corton-Charlemagne, Mâcon, Meursault and Montrachet. It also the foundation of exceptional Champagne, where it is blended with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier or vinified on its own into Blanc de Blancs. It is also extremely popular in California, and is gaining popularity in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Spain and South Africa.

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.


- 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.
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.