2012 Rhys "Horseshoe Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mountains Syrah

SKU #1258712 95 points John Gilman

 The 2012 Rhys Syrah from the Horseshoe Vineyard is a bit less ripe in personality than the 2012 Skyline Vineyard version (please see below), coming in at an even thirteen percent octane and offering up simply stunning aromatic and flavor purity. The very complex bouquet smells like a Gérard Chave wine from the 1980s, soaring from the glass in a precise and classy constellation of cassis, black raspberries, roasted meats, raw cocoa, black olive, stony soil tones, a touch of medicinal young syrah, new leather, cedar and just a whisper of lavender in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and brilliantly soil-driven, with a fine core, flawless focus and balance, ripe, chewy tannins and a very long, very complex and soil-driven finish. This is a puppy and will need at least eight to ten years to really come into its own, but it should prove to be a serious long-distance runner and a reference point example of just what is possible with this grape in a properly stony terroir, coupled with impeccable winemaking. Stunning young Syrah! (Drink between 2023-2060) 95+  (8/2015)

95 points Vinous

 A more savory style of Syrah (relative to the Skyline) emerges from the 2012 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard. Grilled herbs, rose petals, iron and a host of ferrous notes make a strong first impression. Here the flavors are rich, broad and expansive, mirroring the wine's large-scaled frame. The 2012 is quite impressive today, but it won't be ready to drink for at least a few years. (AG)  (7/2015)

94 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 A stunner, the 2012 Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard sports an inky ruby/purple color to go with loads of back raspberry, cassis, licorice, toasted spice and sappy flowers. Deep, rich, full-bodied and textured, with good acidity keeping it honest, this bares more than a passing resemblance to a top-flight Cornas. It needs 2-3 years of cellaring and will keep for over a decade. (JD)  (4/2015)

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Price: $99.99

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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.