2010 Rhys "Horseshoe Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah

SKU #1171777 94 points Jeb Dunnuck

 Coming from a young vineyard (planted in 2004) and a blend of 100% Syrah that was fermented with 100% whole-cluster, the decidedly old school 2010 Horseshoe Vineyard is a gorgeous example of cool-climate, California Syrah. Possessing a mostly opaque ruby/purple color, it delivers a classic array of white pepper-laced black berries, wild herbs, pine resin, edgy minerality, and hints of game on the nose. Classic in style, with edgy acidity that’s balanced by superb depth, good concentration, and ripe tannin, this overall elegant beauty has gorgeous complexity, building richness, and outstanding length. It will be better in 3-4 years, and drink nicely for 15+ years or more.  (12/2012)

94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Glass-staining purple. Powerful, smoke-accented aromas of black and blue fruit preserves, olive and licorice, with a spicy topnote. Shows textbook Syrah character and intense blueberry and cassis flavors lifted by tangy acidity. Finishes smoky, sweet and very long, with smooth tannins lending shape and gentle grip. (ST)  (5/2013)

94 points Vinous

 The 2010 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard was made from fruit harvested in November, not unusual in this cool, drawn-out growing season. Blackberry jam, cloves, menthol and licorice flesh out in a textured, deeply expressive wine endowed with tons of pure class. The 2010 was made with 100% whole clusters. Malolactic fermentation took place in tank and the wine was subsequently aged in neutral oak barrels. This is a fabulous effort in a very challenging vintage. (AG)  (7/2013)

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Price: $79.99

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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.


- 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.