Welcome to the Spring 2022 release of Rhys’ single vineyard wines. This release focuses on the 2019 wines produced from our Bearwallow estate vineyard as well as the always ageworthy Home and Skyline vineyard Pinot Noirs. The 2019 vintage produced excellent quality across our estate vineyards and Bearwallow vineyard particularly shined. For more about the vintage conditions and our 2019 release schedule, please click here.
Focus on Bearwallow –
When we found this remarkable site in 2008, we were taken by the terrific rocky hillside and ideal location in the cool “Deep End” of California’s remote and beautiful Anderson valley. At the time, there were just a few acres of struggling vines and the empty hillside afforded the opportunity to plant our estate selections of tightly spaced grapevines. Bearwallow is a large amphitheater shaped hillside that runs roughly northwest to southeast, with many different exposures along the hill. We knew we could take advantage of these many variables to design individual blocks of new plantings that would produce unique wines. This has led, for example, to our Porcupine Hill planting as well as several sparkling wine-designated blocks. Now that these new plantings have been in production for almost 10 years, we’re starting to see the benefits of vine maturity. The Pinot Noirs are becoming more intense and complex, dominated by crunchy red fruit and minerality. The Chardonnays are racy and elegant, approachable but age-worthy as well.
Meanwhile, our exploration of Bearwallow’s potential has continued with exciting new plantings of Syrah and Chenin Blanc. While the first vintage for Chenin Blanc will be 2022, we have already bottled a 2019 Bearwallow Syrah and love the gamey, meaty, cool climate Syrah expression. We look forward to releasing it next year.
Ageworthy and singular Skyline and Home Pinot Noirs!
Home and Skyline are very different vineyards but they share a common trait. Both sites excel at making Pinot Noir utilizing the entire grape bunch including the stems. With some cellar time, using these “whole clusters” produces wines with silky textures that are extremely complex and expressive. Sometimes the true potential of these wines is harder to evaluate right after bottling so we recommend giving the wines a few years in the cellar. We feel 2019 produced some of the best examples of these wines to date.
2019 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard Chardonnay
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard is laced with the essence of crushed rocks, white pepper, orchard fruit, white flowers, chalk and mint. It is a bit less forthcoming than the Alpine Chardonnay. Saline notes build into the palate staining finish. This classically austere young Chardonnay just needs time in bottle. Tasted next to the Alpine, the Horseshoe has more mid-palate weight and feeling of phenolic intensity. The differences between the two are remarkable considering the sites are just 400 yards apart. The Horseshoe is planted on Monterey shale, while the soils at Alpine are Purisima, a formation that is about 8 million years younger. Such is the complexity of the Santa Cruz Mountains. 96.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (July 2021) Ripe Meyer lemons, crushed stone, white flower, and exotic spice notes all emerge from the 2019 Chardonnay Horseshoe Vineyard. Rich and medium-bodied, it has a beautiful mid-palate, integrated acidity, and a great finish. It shows the slightly more rounded, supple style of the vintage, yet I love its density and length. Give it a year or two and enjoy over the following decade. 95.
2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Chardonnay
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Chardonnay Bearwallow Vineyard is the most open of the vineyard designate Chardonnays, but it, too, will benefit from a few years in bottle. Lemon confit, chamomile, pear and white flowers linger. This mid-weight, translucent Chardonnay has quite a bit to offer in an immediate style that is all charm. 94.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93)The 2019 Rhys Vineyards’ Bearwallow chardonnay is beautifully expressive aromatically right out of the blocks, jumping from the glass in a blend of apple, nectarine, salty soil tones, acacia blossoms, fresh almond and a deft touch of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with a fine core, excellent mineral undertow, zesty acids and a long, beautifully balanced finish. The wine is a little more reserved on the palate than the nose, so I would give it a year or two in the cellar to let both facets completely blossom. I love the backend mineral drive here. 2023-2035+. 93.
2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard is a powerful, searing wine. I am not sure I have tasted a Bearwallow with this much sheer intensity. Black cherry, mocha, gravel, cloves and licorice imbue this somber, backward Pinot with quite a bit of complexity. Readers should be in no rush here. The 2019 is an exceptional Bearwallow. 96+.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93)The 2019 Bearwallow Vineyard pinot noir from Jeff Brinkman and the cellar team at Rhys is a marvelous wine in the making. The bouquet shows plenty of red fruit in its gorgeous combination of pomegranate, red and black cherries, a very complex base of soil tones, just a hint of beetroot, raw cocoa, a very discreet foundation of new oak and a topnote of rose petals. On the palate the wine is bright, full-bodied, focused and complex, with superb transparency and grip, a lovely core of fruit, ripe, seamless tannins and a long, tangy and perfectly balanced finish. This has great backend lift and is going to be a stunning bottle when it is fully ready to drink. 2031-2070. 94+.
2019 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Porcupine Hill is a beautifully translucent, nuanced Pinot that shows the heights of finesse that are possible in Anderson Valley. A wine of unreal subtlety and nuance, the Porcupine Hill hits so many high notes. Crushed red berry, mint, spice, tobacco, cedar, rose petal and espresso build over time. As always, the Porcupine Hill Pinot is sourced from high-density blocks on the property and is done with minimal whole clusters. 97.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Porcupine Hill is another Anderson Valley release that does well in the vintage. Medium ruby-hued, with a great nose of black raspberries, baking spices, resinous herbs, and black tea, it hits the palate with medium to full body, a layered, beautifully balanced mouthfeel, lots of structure, and a great finish. It needs 2-3 years of bottle age, but it’s brilliant. 94+.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93) The densely-planted Porcupine Hill section of the Bearwallow Vineyard has produced a stellar wine in 2019. The bouquet is quite a bit more black fruity out of the blocks than the regular Bearwallow, offering up scents of black cherries, sweet dark berries, beautifully complex soil tones, bitter chocolate, woodsmoke, a touch of fresh thyme, discreet floral notes redolent of peonies and a gentle framing of cedary oak. On the palate the wine is bright, young and full- bodied, with a superb core of fruit, lovely mineral undertow, ripe, well-integrated tannins and a long, nascently complex and extremely promising finish. This is going to take even a few more years to blossom than the regular Bearwallow, but it will be stellar juice when it is ready to drink. 2034-2070+. 94+.
2019 Rhys Home Vineyard Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) The 2019 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard is one of the more savory wines in the range. Holiday spice cake, sweet dried cherry, tobacco leaf, cedar and earthy tones are all finely knit together. A Pinot of subtlety and nuance, the Home Vineyard, will appeal most to readers who enjoy understated wines. The 100% whole clusters add quite a bit of savoriness, but not in an exaggerated way. 94.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (July 2021) Ample black cherries, sappy herbs, iron, iodine, and gamey, floral notes emerge from the 2019 Pinot Noir Home Vineyard, and it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, building tannins, a sappy, grippy mouthfeel, and outstanding length. It’s mostly potential at this point, but I love its overall balance and length. Give bottles 2-4 years and enjoy over the following decade or more. 94+.
2019 Rhys Skyline Pinot Noir
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2021) Soaring floral and spice notes open effortlessly in the 2019 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard. Rose petal, pomegranate, mint, blood orange and cinnamon all grace this classy, mid-weight Pinot from Rhys. The Skyline is another wine that is all about understatement. Here, too, the whole clusters (100%) are not especially evident. 95.
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (July 2021) Another Santa Cruz Mountains release, the 2019 Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard has a more spicy, meaty, savory style than usual, giving up lots of rich, darker cherry and currant fruits, notes of savory herbs, chocolate, baking spices, and earth, plenty of mid-palate depth, ripe, polished, yet substantial tannins, and outstanding length. Give it a few years. 94.
John Gilman, ViewFromtheCellar.com (May/June 2021, #93) As is so often the case, the 2019 Skyline pinot noir is a touch more black fruity than its siblings from the Alpine Vineyard. The bouquet is deep, pure and very promising, offering up scents of dark berries, black cherries, raw cocoa, stony minerality, a touch of graphite, a hint of chicory, some youthful stem tones, new oak and scents of bonfire in the upper register. On the palate the wine is pure, refined and full-bodied, with a good core of black fruit, ripe, seamless tannins, lovely focus and grip and a long, youthfully complex finish. This does not have quite the mid-palate stuffing of some of these other Rhys pinots in 2019, but I absolutely love its precision, balance and lightness of step and have a gut feeling that this may well be one of those wines that puts on a bit of weight with extended bottle age. Fine, fine juice. 2031-2075. 94.