Santa Cruz Mountains Day 2 (Rhys, Big Basin, Plumed Horse)

Tasted March 23, 2012 by floydtp with 674 views

Flight 1 - Rhys Vineyards (9 notes)

We spent three and a half hours with Jeff Brinkman touring and tasting. He is a tremendous ambassador for Rhys in addition to being an obviously gifted winemaker. A truly unforgettable experience.

White
2010 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 4 hours. Very expressive nose right from the beginning (the Alpine 2010 needed an hour in the glass to start to reveal itself) with white floral, caramel and honeysuckle elements. I could have stopped with the nose and never tasted it and my day would have been complete. On the palate it had light tart fruit and a hint of honeysuckle. The finish was very long and consistent but the floral with the primary element. According to Jeff, this one saw 25% new oak. Very impressive and I cant wait to see how this ages. 92-94?
White
2010 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 4 hours. The nose was very reserved at first but cam around after a lot of swirling and an hour or so in the glass. Once it opened up, it showed layers of citrus and apples. The palate also had a citrus profile with layers of lemons along with green apples. Long and consistent finish. 25% new oak. This one could be a superstar once it matures. 94-96.
Red
2009 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 4 hours. Beautiful, dark, musky, floral nose. On the palate it has baking spices, earth and some exotic perfume elements. The really isnt much fruit showing at this point. The finish is medium long length with lavender and violets being at the forefront. Hold this one for a few to several years. 91-93.
Red
2009 Rhys Pinot Noir Swan Terrace USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 4 hours. The nose has mostly dark floral elements with some red cherries. The palate is sour red berries with significant floral elements. Medium length finish that ends with sour cherries. Hold for several more years. I don't have nearly enough experience with this wine to hazard a guess at a rating but I'm sure it will be excellent with a several years of bottle aging. Definitely a feminine profile. 100% whole cluster and 1/3 new oak.
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Red
2010 Rhys Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 4 hours. Fairly restrained nose with some spice, floral and dark fruit notes. Tart, dark fruit on the palate with more spice and floral elements. The finish is medium-long length with some sour oak at the very end. This was the only Rhys wind of the day that show any obvious oak but it was well balanced and a nice surprise at the veins of the finish. Only 5% new oak and 50% whole cluster. Hold for a few to several years. 92-94.

Update- I retasted the same bottle 48 hours later. The bottle had about 1/3 left had been sitting at room temperature with the cork loosely inserted. I didn't take detailed notes but the wine had definitely changed significantly and had taken on a strawberry dominated profile that was very pleasant.
White
2006 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
94 points
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff from an unlabeled split. PnP. Brilliant nose of caramel and lemons. The nose was singing from the moment at was opened. The palate had a stony, light citrus profile with a hint of caramel. The finish was consistent but extraordinarily long in length. For me there were around 8 wines that were a tie for wine of the day but this one was certainly one of the more interesting and was a good experience to see how these age- a real treat. Drink now but probably no need be in a hurry.
White
2007 Rhys Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
93 points
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. This is an unreleased wine and was PnP'd. Light citrus nose with elements of musk. The palate has more of the same with some fine, powdery barrel toast. The finish was very enjoyable with hints of tart fruit and caramel. Very enjoyable. I would write drink now but I don't imagine that anyone has any of these but if you do, it is in a very good place.
Red
2006 Rhys Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle was PnP'd. Still very primary with a nice spicy, floral nose with some dark fruit. Similar palate with strong floral elements. The wine evolved significantly over just 15 minutes in the glass so it is kind of hard to pinpoint the profile. Hold this one for a few more years. Rating withheld since I didn't feel like a got to know this one very well but expect it to be in the 92-94 range. 2/3 new oak, 2/3 whole cluster.
Red
2009 Rhys Syrah Horseshoe Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind at the winery with Jeff. Bottle had been slow oxed for around 5 hours. Nose of pepper, pepper and more pepper with some dark berries and violets sprinkled in. The palate was similar and dominated by the pepper aspects but with noticeable floral accents. Long, consistent finish. Lots of structure to give this one a long life. Hold for 3-5-7 years. 92-94.

Flight 2 - Big Basin Winery (6 notes)

While Bradley's winery was a bit more humble than Rhys, the monitor-style barn built with Redwood timbers harvested from the estate displays equal craftsmanship and is stunning. I was not a customer before spending time with Bradley but am one now and used up 9 precious spots in my 12 pack shipper that I was taking back on the plane with me with his wine.



In addition to the wines listed below, I also tasted a barrel sample of a 2010 Chardonnay and a 2011 Grenache (actuall 2/3 grenache and 1/3 syrah) that I didn't have enough details on to post a CT note.

White
2011 Big Basin Vineyards Roussanne Homestead Block USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind from a barrel sample at the winery with Bradley. Very nice floral elements on the nose with more floral on the palate along with caramel and honeysuckle. Medium length finish that was fairly consistent. Nice acidity. According to Bradley, 0% new oak. 89-91
Red
2010 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Old Corral USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
asted non blind from a barrel sample at the winery with Bradley. Nice nose of dark berries with a hint of violets and pepper. Similar on the palate with very little obvious oak influence despite 2 out of 3 barrels being new. Very pleasant texture with powdery/chalky tannins. This one will be good to follow once it is in bottle. 90-92
Red
2011 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Old Corral USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind from a barrel sample at the winery with Bradley. Reductive nose that mostly showed strong coffee notes. After spending 10-15 minutes in the glass, the palate revealed some spice and had a medium-long length finish. Hard to assess at this stage but will certainly look forward to trying again once it is farther along. NR
Red
2011 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Rattlesnake Rock USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind from a barrel sample at the winery with Bradley. Wonderful nose with strong floral elements, pepper and dark berries. The palate is very similar and has a not often experienced balance between the floral, spice and fruit. Long finish that is consistent and very pleasant. I have high expectations for this one. Bradley mentioned that floral properties are typical for this property. 92-94
Red
2011 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Coastview Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County
Tasted non blind from a barrel sample at the winery with Bradley. Lots of floral and fruit but isn't showing any spice at all at this stage. Nice powdery texture similar to the Old Corral 2010 barrel sample.
Red
2009 Big Basin Vineyards Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
Tasted non blind at the winery with Bradley. PnP. Very big nose that didn't any air to express itself. It was showing mostly red fruit on the nose and palate with some hints of spice. I really enjoyed the texture of this wine but cant find the words to accurately describe it. Fairly long snd enjoyable finish consistent with the palate.

Flight 3 - Big Basin Tsting Room (7 notes)

Given that the winery has more barrels than bottles, we made a beeline for his Saratoga tasting room and tasting through a couple of flights with Andy and Tom. I had read mixed reviews about the tasting room but Andy, the tasting room manager, made for one of the better tasting room experiences I've had. There was one more wine listed below that I didn't take notes on and can't recall what it was.

Red
2009 Big Basin Vineyards Pinot Noir Coastview Vineyard USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County
91 points
Tasted non blind at their tasting room. On the nose and palate, it showed red cherries and berries, black tea and a hint of cinnamon. Medium plus length finish that was very enjoyable. Drinkable now but I will hold for a year before trying any of the bottles I bought.
Red
2009 Big Basin Vineyards Pinot Noir Lester Family Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
Tasted non blind at their tasting room. Very nice components of earth and stones in addition to red fruit. Fairly tannic at this stage, hold for 1-2 years.
Red
2008 Big Basin Vineyards Pinot Noir Alfaro Family Vineyard USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
91 points
Tasted non blind at their tasting room. Nose of tea and floral with more of the same on the palate along with some spicy notes. Nice length on the finish. Seems to be in a good place. Drink or hold.
Red
2009 Big Basin Vineyards Homestead USA, California
90 points
Tasted non blind at their tasting room. Lots of blueberries and pepper on the nose with some sweet, bright fruit and floral notes also. Similar palate with a medium-long length finish. I would give this a bit more time in bottle but perfectly drinkable now with some air. A hint of heat but not as much as expected given 14.8% ABV.
Red
2008 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Fairview Ranch USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Lucia Highlands
91 points
Tasted non blind in their tasting room. Nose of mixed berries with a hint of spice. On the palate it has red fruit and white pepper with some hints of cigar box. This one is fairly tannic at this stage and I would hold 1-3 years before trying again. Very high ABV but was not obvious without looking at the label.
Red
2008 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
Tasted non blind in their tasting room. I really need to spend more time with this wine. One minute it was showing more cab and the syrah was in the background, the next minute it was opposite. I couldn't get them to blend together while tasting. The wine had cassis, blueberries, spice and hints of cocoa and coffee. This one also had some serious tannins and a bit of heat. No rating at this point. I will have to make sure I try this one a few years down the road.
Red
2007 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Frenchie's Ranch USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
93 points
Tasted non blind in their tasting room. Big nose of flowers, dark berries, herbs and spice. More of the same on the palate with too many layers to fully grasp with a quick 1 oz tasting. Very nice finish that goes on for days. Firm tannins. Hold 2-4 years. No noticeable heat despite unbelievably high ABV.

Flight 4 - Plumed Horse Restaurant (4 notes)

We initially were going to take it easy for dinner after what a nice meal we had at Nick's the night before but Bradley talked us into going to Plumed Horse. The selling point was his tip that they had both the 2002 and 2003 vintages of Rattlesnake Rock on the wine list at reasonable prices. I had Black Pepper & Parmesan Soufflé, uni & Dungeness crab fondue for starters and a Kobe beef entree with some sort of fried risotto balls and spinach. The 2003 Rattlesnake Rock was the highlight of the evening and one of the more memorable wines I had on this trip.

White - Sparkling
N.V. René-Henri Coutier Champagne Grand Cru Brut France, Champagne, Champagne Grand Cru
87 points
Tasted non blind at dinner. Nothing but a hint of apples on the nose. A hint of yeast and baked bread on the palate along with some very crisp green apple. I prefer a creamy texture with fine bubbles and this was much more harsh. Not bad QPR at retail but terrible QPR at $28 for a small flute at dinner.
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White
2004 Domaine Vocoret et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Blanchot France, Burgundy, Chablis, Chablis Grand Cru
90 points
Tasted non blind with dinner. The nose had herb, lemongrass and floral notes. The palate was mostly herb and mineral with little fruit. Medium length consistent finish. Drink now.
Red
2003 Big Basin Vineyards Syrah Rattlesnake Rock USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
94 points
Tasted non blind at dinner. Decanted for 45 minutes before tasting. Wonderfully refine nose of dark berries, spice, lavender and anise. The palate was more of the same with some significant floral elements. The texture was perfect with very fine, powdery tannins. The finish was long and consistent. This wine showed extremely well this night.
White - Fortified
1977 D'Oliveiras Madeira Boal Reserva Portugal, Madeira
92 points
Tasted non blind at a restaurant. The bottle was PnP'd. Nice aromas of caramel, citrus and a hint of spice. More of the same on the palate with a very long and slightly nutty finish. Very enjoyable. I dont have much experience with this wine and would have loved to see how it evolved over the evening but just had one glass.

Closing

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