2016 Rhys "Alesia" Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay (Previously $45)

SKU #1364434 92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 The 2016 Alesia Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains is superb, unfurling in the glass with notes of fresh pear, preserved citrus, lemon oil and a light framing of smoky reduction. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, concentrated and tensile, built around a racy line of acidity and concluding with a saline finish that's almost searingly stony. This represents a notable change of pace after the more rounded, giving Anderson Valley Alesia bottling and marks this out as one of the keenest values in the Rhys portfolio. Follow it for a decade, perhaps more.(WK)  (5/2018)

90 points John Gilman

 The Santa Cruz Mountains bottling of 2016 Chardonnay from Alesia is even a touch lower in octane than the stylish Anderson Valley bottling, as this comes in at 12.3 percent alcohol. Despite its lower octane, the wine has plenty of personality on both the nose and palate, with the bouquet delivering a fine mélange of apple, a hint of pear, almond, a really good base of white soil tones, a touch of orange peel and a refined framing of new wood. On the palate the wine is crisp, medium-full, focused and quite solid at the core, with lovely balance and grip, excellent backend mineral drive and a long, zesty and promising finish. This is lovely and even a hair better than the very good Anderson Valley bottling this year. (Drink between 2018-2030) 90+  (8/2018)

90 points Vinous

 The 2016 Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains) is a classy, elegant wine. Expressive aromatics add to the wine's finessed personality and overall feel. Citrus peel, white flowers, mint and white pepper add complexity throughout. There is plenty to like in this chiseled, nuanced Chardonnay from Rhys. Alesia is back. After a number of years of thinking about what to do with his popular sister label, Rhys proprietor Kevin Harvey has settled on making Alesia the home for his appellation level wines, while Rhys will focus on vineyard designate bottlings, a distinction that makes a lot of sense. So Alesia, once a negociant label, is now 100% estate, with four wines; two Chardonnays and 2 Pinots from vineyards in Anderson Valley and the Santa Cruz Mountains. (AG)  (8/2018)

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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.