"..the 2014 lineup is an absolutely outstanding follow-up to the vinous fireworks here from the 2013 vintage...".

John Gilman on the 2014 Vintage from Rhys Vineyards

by John Gilman, View From the Cellar, July-August 2016, No 64

2014 Chardonnay

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Anderson Valley” Chardonnay

This is the first vintage of Anderson Valley chardonnay that the winery has produced, and it is a very lovely wine that will drink well from its release. The bouquet is very floral and esthery, wafting from the glass in a lovely blend of pear, tangerine, fresh almond, white lilies, a hint of crème patissière, a nice base of soil and a very discreet framing of vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and very nicely generous on the attack, with fine focus and grip, a lovely core, bright acids and a long, complex and very refined finish. This is very nicely accessible out of the blocks, but it is still fairly primary in profile and I would be inclined to hold this two or three years in the cellar and allow it to develop its secondary layer of complexity. Really a lovely wine. 2016-2025. 92.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay (Anderson Valley)

This is also the first vintage of vineyard-designated chardonnay produced from the Bearwallow Vineyard. Kevin Harvey and his team purchased Bearwallow in 2008, which at the time was planted only to pinot noir, and they put their chardonnay into the ground the following year, so this is the produce of five year-old vines. However, high density planting and a close eye on yields has produced a 2014 chardonnay here that has plenty of intensity of flavor and little young vine character. This is more reserved and more serious in personality than the very lovely Anderson Valley bottling, offering up a deep and youthfully complex bouquet of fresh pineapple, pear, a touch of French butter, complex soil tones, citrus blossoms and vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and zesty, with a good core, fine focus and grip, nascent complexity and impeccable balance on the long and still quite primary finish. I really love the elegance and personality of this wine, which augurs so well for down the road, as I can only imagine how good this wine is going to be when the vines are twenty-five years of age! Again, this is really a fine glass of wine today, but at least a couple of years in the cellar are highly recommended. 2018-2030. 93+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Horseshoe Vineyard” Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 Horseshoe Vineyard chardonnay from Rhys Vineyards is a bit riper than normal, due to the drought conditions, coming in at 13.6 percent octane. This has produced a more wide open wine than the 2013 version, wafting from the glass in a fine blend of apple, tangerine, esthery tones, incipient notes of butter, lovely minerality and orange blossoms in the upper register. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, crisp and complex, with quite a wide open personality out of the blocks for this bottling. The acids are bright and zesty, the focus is lovely and the core here is ample, with the potential to age gracefully, but an open-knit personality that is going to make it extremely difficult to keep one’s hands off of bottles in the cellar. 2016-2025. 93.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Alpine Vineyard” Chardonnay (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 vintage of Alpine chardonnay from Kevin Harvey and the talented team at Rhys is also a tad riper this year, coming in at 13.5 percent, but impeccably focused and balanced. The lovely bouquet delivers a nascently complex constellation of pear, acacia blossom, a marvelous base of soil tones, a touch of fresh almond, a very discreet base of vanillin oak, hints of the butter to come with bottle age and an esthery topnotes of bee pollen. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, crisp and complex, with a fine core, excellent focus and grip and a long, vibrant and still quite primary finish. I do not know why, but this year the Alpine chardonnay seems very, very Puligny-Montrachet-like in personality. Fine juice that will be approachable from the outset, but clearly is built to age and will offer more complexity a few years down the road. 2016-2025+. 92+.

2014 Pinot Noir

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Anderson Valley” Pinot Noir

The 2014 Rhys Vineyards “Anderson Valley” Pinot Noir is a lovely and fairly wide open aromatically and will make friends immediately, but clearly it has the depth and seamless balance to age long and gracefully as well. The bouquet is bright and utterly inviting, offering up a constellation of black plums, pomegranate, hints of the cola to come, a fine base of dark soil, a really attractive dollop of sweet Mendocino weediness and a lovely framing of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely sappy at the core, with a bit more tannic structure than the wide open nose suggests. The finish is long, focused and ripely tannic, with tangy acids and impressive grip on the still quite primary backend. The very extroverted bouquet suggests a wine that will drink well from a young age, but the backend structure begs to differ! A quite serious bottle in the making, I would give it at least two or three years in the cellar to allow the palate to catch up with the generosity of the nose. 2020-2045+. 91.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Bearwallow Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)

I simply adored the 2013 vintage of Bearwallow pinot noir, and the 2014 version is a fine follow-up to that superb wine. The bouquet is deep, pure and nascently complex, wafting from the glass in a blend of black cherries, cola, black plums, woodsmoke, sweet herbs, a dollop of spicy oak and a topnote of cumin. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied and laser-like in its focus, with outstanding mid-palate depth, ripe, perfectly integrated tannins, bright acids and outstanding length and grip on the poised and youthful finish. This shows significantly more complexity and precision than the very good Anderson Valley bottling, but it is still a puppy and a bit bound up in its suave structural elements. It is built for the long haul and I would give this at least seven or eight years in the cellar before I even contemplated opening a bottle. Not that it is all that bad of a drink right out of the blocks, but there is so much more to come here with bottle age that it would be infanticide to even think of opening bottles before it really has had a chance to develop! 2023-2060+. 93+.

2014 Rhys Vineyard “Porcupine Hill” Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley)

As I noted last year, the Porcupine Hill bottling of pinot noir from Rhys comes from the new, high density plantings in the Bearwallow Vineyard that went in the ground after the winery bought the vineyard in 2008. The 2013 version was the inaugural vintage for the Porcupine Hill cuvée and the 2014 follow-up is very impressive, wafting from the glass in a constellation of black cherries, red plums, pomegranate, chicory, dark soil tones, a bit of bonfire, just a whisper of fresh rosemary and a very understated framing of spicy oak. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and very transparent in personality, with a lovely core of black fruit, suave, seamless tannins, tangy acids, great balance and a very, very long, elegant and promising finish. Last year, I had to give the regular bottling from Bearwallow the slight nod over the Porcupine Hill, but this year the reverse is the case. This is a beautiful, beautiful bottle of pinot noir in the making! 2023-2060+. 94+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Home Vineyard” Pinot Noir (San Mateo County)

The 2014 Home Vineyard cuvée of pinot noir from Rhys is a tad lower in octane than the Anderson Valley bottlings, coming in at 13.2 percent alcohol in this vintage. The wine is absolutely beautiful aromatically, offering up an utterly classic bouquet of black cherries, sweet dark berries, woodsmoke, dark soil tones, incipient notes of cola, fresh thyme and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is deep, pure, full-bodied and nascently complex, with a lovely core, finegrained tannins, good acids and fine length and grip on the focused and very promising finish. This is more overtly black fruity in personality than the single vineyard bottlings from Anderson Valley, and though the acids here are very good, it is not quite as vibrant as those two wines. A lovely bottle in the making, but quite different in personality than the pinots from Mendocino and the Santa Cruz Mountains (as it should be!), as the lovely soil tones here play more of a supporting role than in the wines from those other two regions in 2014. Give this some extended time in the cellar to allow the tannins to fall away a bit and the textural polish to catch up with the aromatic fireworks. 2022-2050+. 92+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Family Farm Vineyard” Pinot Noir (San Mateo County)

The 2014 Family Farm pinot noir is a bit more typical of the vintage’s ripeness level, coming in at 13.5 percent. The bouquet seems a tad more marked by its new wood than most of these other single vineyard bottlings, but this is just the stage the wine is in today. The nose is a fine blend of cassis, black cherries, a touch of chicory, dark soil tones, espresso, mustard seed and cedar. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and a bit more vibrant in personality than its San Mateo stable-mate of Home Vineyard. The balance is impeccable, the tannins suave and perfectly integrated and the finish very long, nascently complex and utterly refined. I have a gut feeling that this will age even longer than the Home Vineyard 2014, but it is beautifully balanced that it will also offer more enjoyment early on in its evolution. 2020-2060. 93+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Horseshoe Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 Rhys Horseshoe Vineyard pinot noir is one of the lowest octane reds in the lineup this year, coming at 12.9 percent alcohol. As was the case with the 2013 a year ago, this shows a bit of its stems from the inclusion of whole clusters, but this will just deliver more complexity when the wine is really ready to drink. The complex bouquet delivers a very refined constellation of sappy black cherries, plums, a touch of grilled meat, black minerality, raw cocoa, fresh herbs and a discreet base of spicy oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied and nicely reserved in personality, with a great core, superb soil signature, fine-grained tannins and a very, very long, transparent and gently meaty finish. This is the first 2014 single vineyard bottling in the lineup that strikes me as surpassing its excellent 2013 counterpart! This will need time in the cellar, but it will be stunning when it is ready to drink. 2022-2060. 94.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Skyline Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 Skyline Vineyard pinot noir is amazingly aromatic for its youth, with all sorts of exotic spice and herb tones wafting from the glass to augment gorgeous fruit and a profound base of soil. The bouquet is flat out stunning, offering up a complex and exotic nose of black cherries, plums, sarsaparilla, just marvelous soil tones, a potpourri of sweet herb tones and a topnote of woodsmoke. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and full-bodied, with a serious chassis of ripe tannin, bright acids and excellent focus and grip on the very long, and very young finish. This is still a young and adolescent wine that needs some extended cellaring, but it is going to be sex appeal personified when it is ready to go. If there has ever been a more exotic Rhys Skyline pinot noir, I would love to taste it! 2022-2060. 94+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Alpine Vineyard” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 Alpine Vineyard pinot noir from Rhys is another outstanding young bottle of pinot, with its whole clusters showing a bit today, but all of the constituent components in place for greatness down the road. The wine offers up a deep and nascently complex nose of dark berries, espresso, woodsmoke, a superb base of dark soil tones, a touch of stems (which are already starting to show some cinnamon shadings), chicory and a touch of cedary wood. On the palate the wine is pure, full-bodied, focused and strikingly mineral, with a fine core, impeccable focus and balance, suave tannins and a very, very long, tangy and promising finish. This is going to be a great wine (I particularly like how vibrant it is on the backend), but it will demand a bit of patience to allow it to blossom completely with proper bottle age. 2024-2060. 94+.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Swan Terrace” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 Swan Terrace pinot noir, which comes from an easterly-facing section of Alpine Vineyard, is absolutely stellar in this vintage. The wine is a tad lower in octane than the Alpine bottling (12.7 versus 13.0 percent) and offers up a superb and absolutely precise bouquet of sweet dark berries, black cherries, espresso, complex minerality, chicory, woodsmoke, a  youthful touch of stems and cedar. On the palate the wine is pure, fullish, complex and tangy, with a good core, fine-grained tannins and lovely length and grip on the soil-driven finish. This is fully a half point higher in octane than the thoroughbred 2013 version, but it continues the line of Swan Terrace bottlings that deliver great intensity of flavor without undue weight. Fine, fine juice. 2020-2055. 94.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Horseshoe Hillside” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2014 is the second vintage of the “Horseshoe Hillside” reserve bottling from Rhys Vineyards. The wine is once again a brilliant young pinot noir, offering up again stunning precision and nascent complexity on both the nose and palate. The very promising bouquet wafts from the glass in a blend of black cherries, dark berries, raw cocoa, a bit of gamebird, lovely, discreet spice tones, a fine signature of soil, still a bit of youthful stem tones and a discreet base of spicy oak. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, pure and transparent, with a superb core, exceptional focus and balance, fine-grained tannins, bright acids and outstanding length and grip on the youthful, but stunning finish. This is an absolutely exceptional young bottle of pinot noir and is a fine, fine follow-up to the magical 2013 version. 2024-2060+. 96.

2014 Rhys Vineyards “Alpine Hillside” Pinot Noir (Santa Cruz Mountains)

 The 2014 Alpine Hillside bottling of pinot noir from Rhys Vineyards is once again my favorite of this absolutely stellar roster of 2014 pinots from this great Santa Cruz Mountain property. The wine offers up a marvelous nose of black plums, black cherries, espresso, woodsmoke, black minerality, fresh thyme and cedary wood. On the palate the wine is pure, fullbodied, focused and tightly-knit, with a marvelous core, great mineral drive, bright acids and outstanding length and grip on the ripely tannic and laser-like finish. At this point in its evolution, this does not seem quite as magical as the 2013, but this should not take away from the sheer brilliance this wine will deliver when it is fully mature. 2024-2060+. 96+.

2013 Syrah

2013 Rhys Vineyards “Horseshoe Vineyard” Syrah (Santa Cruz Mountains)

The 2013 Syrah from the Horseshoe Vineyard is quite ripe for this varietal from the Rhys team, coming in at 13.5 percent alcohol, but the wine is all about precision and mineral drive and shows no signs of blowsiness on either the nose or palate. The superb bouquet jumps from the glass in a ripe and complex mix of cassis, black raspberries, woodsmoke, a touch of grilled meats, dark soil tones, chocolate, pepper and an exotic topnote of dried eucalyptus. On the palate the wine is deep, pure and complex, with its full-bodied format absolutely perfectly balanced, with a fine core of fruit, ripe, chewy tannins and simply outstanding length and grip. This is ripe like 1990 Chave is ripe, and I probably have a very slight preference for the lower octane 2012 version, but this is also a very, very serious young syrah. 2021-2060. 94.

2013 Rhys Vineyards “Skyline Vineyard” Syrah (Santa Cruz Mountains)

Interestingly, the 2013 Skyline Vineyard bottling of syrah from Rhys is lower in octane than both the 2013 Horseshoe and the 2012 version from this vineyard, as this comes in at a very civilized 13.1 percent alcohol. The bouquet is ripe, but very pure, wafting from the glass in an impressively complex constellation of sweet dark berries, cassis, grilled meats, a touch of black olive, lavender, eucalyptus, lovely minerality, just a dollop of new wood and a topnote of black licorice. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, complex and beautifully balanced, with ripe, chewy tannins, great depth at the core, bright acids and fine focus and grip on the long and youthful finish. The backend vibrancy here is outstanding, and with sufficient bottle age, this is going to be a brilliant wine. 2023-2060+. 95.

See all Reviews