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2011 Rhys - Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard

UNITED STATES / CALIFORNIA / SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS
  • 93 WA
  • 93 IWC
  • Variety
    Chardonnay
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SKU: 261229-2011-750-3A
  • Wine Advocate | Rating: 93

    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).
    Drink Dates: 2015-2023
    Author: Jeb Dunnuck
  • International Wine Cellar | Rating: 93

    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.
    Author: Josh Raynolds
    Issue: May/June 2013
  • Self | Rating: 94

    Another great one
    Author: Patrick
Chiseled deep into a Santa Cruz Mountain hillside with such vast and echoing chambers that it's lovingly termed "the rebel base," Rhys Vineyards and its visionary owner are on a mission. It all started for Kevin Harvey, a Silicon Valley software entrepreneur with a Burgundy obsession, in 1995 when he planted a small Pinot Noir vineyard in his backyard, and has transformed into a quest to uncover the mysteries of his un-glorified appellation's geography and achieve world-class Pinot Noir.

From his first garage wine, Harvey was struck with minerality that reminded him more of Burgundy than any domestic Pinot. So, using ambitious, biodynamic farming of tightly-spaced, high elevation, cool climate vineyards planted in specific sites in the Santa Cruz Mountains with shallow, rocky soils, preferably on hillsides, he set out to make the most mineral-driven, terroir-focused domestic Pinot. The results have garnered overwhelming praise from the entire spectrum of critical review. From Robert Parker to Allen Meadows, it's hard to find anyone who isn't impressed with this passionate operation producing perhaps the best New World Pinot anywhere.

California is the heartland of wine production in the US, and the state that brought prestige to American wine thanks to the pioneers who built early wineries like Staglin, Beringer, Ridge, Mayacamas and Chateau Montelena in the 1800s. Its large geographic area ensures a great diversity in growing sites, varieties grown, and quality levels. Generalizations about the state's wines have numerous exceptions; however, a few key facts generally hold true—ample sunshine, dry weather during the growing season, and moderate winters prevail. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon continue to dominate the state's production—albeit in continually smaller percentages, as growers continue to diversify. More than 100 different varieties can be found throughout the state.

Chardonnay is a versatile variety that can grow in a wide range of climates, and its neutral flavor profile offers a blank canvas for winemakers to impart their style. In cool climates, Chardonnay displays flavors of green fruit and citrus. As the climate becomes more moderate, flavors of white peach and melon develop. In warm and hot climates, aromas of banana, pineapple, and other tropical fruit are common.

The best Old-World Chardonnay comes from Burgundy, where it is uniquely reflective of terroir and can express many different flavor profiles even within this relatively small region. In Chablis, the northernmost part of Burgundy, wines are often unoaked and known for their minerality, high acidity, and aromas of green apple, citrus, wet stone, and slate. In the Côte de Beaune, further south, wines are typically aged in neutral French oak and have flavors of stone fruit, toast, almond, and cream. Burgundian producers pioneered the techniques that are now associated with high-quality Chardonnay around the world, including barrel fermentation, barrel ageing, malolactic fermentation, and maturation on lees. The best wines, from producers like Domaine Leflaive, Bouchard Père & Fils, and Domaine William Fèvre, can age in the bottle for a decade or more, developing complex aromas of nuts and mushroom.

New-World Chardonnay tends to grow in warmer climates than in the Old World, producing wines that are full-bodied, high in alcohol, and low in acidity. Use of American oak imparts flavors of vanilla, clove, hazelnut, butter, and caramel on top of peach and banana fruit. Look to Californian producers in Napa and Sonoma, including Kistler, Peter Michael, and Aubert, for the highest-quality versions of this New-World style.

Chardonnay’s versatility makes it a great option for pairing. High-acid wines from Chablis are the perfect accompaniment to oysters or clams, while oak-forward Napa wines are the best match for buttery lobster. Halibut, cod, and chicken breast are classic pairings with white Burgundy. 

Collector Data For This Wine

  • 30 bottles owned
  • 28 collectors
  • Average collector rating: 94
    (Out of 28 collectors)