Ryme Cellars, “Las Brisas” Pinot Noir
Ryme Cellars, “Las Brisas” Pinot Noir

Ryme Cellars, “Las Brisas” Pinot Noir

California, United States 2020 (750mL)
Regular price$38.00
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Ryme Cellars, “Las Brisas” Pinot Noir

Typically, my pitch for excellent Carneros Pinot Noir would boil down to “great site, great grower, great winemaker, all adding up to a bottle that warrants the hefty price tag.” The discovery of Ryme Cellars requires me to modify that approach. Despite hailing from a single vineyard in some of California’s finest Pinot real estate, and being produced by a buzz-worthy winemaking couple, today’s brilliant 2020 “Las Brisas” somehow comes in at $38!

Frankly, at this point in my career, I’ve learned that when a wine with this kind of pedigree-to-price-tag ratio finds its way onto our tasting table, you don’t ask how or why, you just enjoy the ride. And what a ride this is: vibrant, structured, and deep-fruited, yet carrying the signature elegance that’s made Ryme a leading light in the artisanal wine movement. Scarcely does the opportunity to experience some of California’s most exquisite Pinot Noir come with such a low barrier to entry. So allow me to give it another go: “great site, great grower, great winemaker, AND a great price.” Grab up to 12 bottles!

Ryan and Megan Glaab are a certified California winemaking power couple. Both natives of the state, they actually met halfway around the world while working at the famed Torbreck estate in Australia’s Barossa Valley. After returning home, they racked up a collective resumé that reads like a who’s who of California all-stars: Sine Qua Non, Pax, Peay…the list goes on. In 2007, they began Ryme with a single ton of organically farmed Aglianico grapes. They joined the cutting edge of the “New California” scene, prioritizing freshness and balance over ripeness and extraction. Nowadays, we don’t think twice about drinking Sierra Foothills Barbera or Napa Ribolla Gialla. We’ve got trailblazers like Megan and Ryan Glaab to thank for that. That said, they don’t strictly focus on oddball varieties; throughout Ryme’s ascent, alongside their Vermentinos and Fianos, they also produce stunning and classically styled Pinots and Cabs.

Their “Las Brisas” bottling comes from one of the pioneers of Carneros Pinot, Francis Mahoney. Frances has been growing Pinot Noir here, at the cooler southern end of Sonoma County (Carneros bleeds into Napa County as well), since the 1960s. In Carneros, buffeted as it is by winds off the San Pablo Bay, the Valley’s generous fruit stylings are paired with enlivening acidity thanks to dramatic diurnal temperature shifts. Francis did much of the on-the-ground work to discover what Pinot clones grow best in Carneros, and he now grows no fewer than 12 at “Las Brisas.” Two clones comprise Megan and Ryan’s bottling, each of which brings balance to the wine. The Swan clone lends spice and earth tones while the confusingly named Gamay Beaujolais clone (actually neither Gamay nor from Beaujolais) forms the generous fruit core.

The Glaabs ferment the two clones separately before pressing and blending them into neutral barrels for 11 months of aging. The 2020 vintage brought substantial concentration, which Megan and Ryan have deftly balanced with an invigorating structure. Served in a Burgundy bowl just above cellar temp, “Las Brisas” thrums with dark fruit and spice—crunchy plum, raspberry, cherry pit, redcurrant, cedar, cola nut, five spice, rose, and a backbone of mushroomy earth. The palate is soft and inviting, with enlivening acidity taking center stage over the moderate tannins and brilliantly blurring the line between contemplative and crushable. This is a “serious” bottle we’d be happy to pour for the most seasoned California Pinot drinker, but also an undeniably delicious wine we’d pop to enliven our weeknight dinners. Just be sure to grab enough for all occasions!

Ryme Cellars, “Las Brisas” Pinot Noir

United States


Columbia Valley

Like many Washington wines, the “Columbia Valley” indication only tells part of the story: Columbia Valley covers a huge swath of Central
Washington, within which are a wide array of smaller AVAs (appellations).


Willamette Valley

Oregon’s Willamette Valley has become an elite winegrowing zone in record time. Pioneering vintner David Lett, of The Eyrie Vineyard, planted the first Pinot Noir in the region in 1965, soon to be followed by a cadre of forward-thinking growers who (correctly) saw their wines as America’s answer to French
Burgundies. Today, the Willamette
Valley is indeed compared favorably to Burgundy, Pinot Noir’s spiritual home. And while Pinot Noir accounts for 64% of Oregon’s vineyard plantings, there are cool-climate whites that must not be missed.


Santa Barbara

Among the unique features of Santa Barbara County appellations like Ballard Canyon (a sub-zone of the Santa Ynez Valley AVA), is that it has a cool, Pacific-influenced climate juxtaposed with the intense luminosity of a southerly
latitude (the 34th parallel). Ballard Canyon has a more north-south orientation compared to most Santa Barbara AVAs, with soils of sandy
clay/loam and limestone.


Paso Robles

Situated at an elevation of 1,600 feet, it is rooted in soils of sandy loam and falls within the Highlands District of the Paso Robles AVA.

New York

North Fork

Wine growers and producers on Long Island’s North Fork have traditionally compared their terroir to that of Bordeaux and have focused on French varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

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