The 2014 Vintage
The third year of California’s enduring drought brought us another consistently warm growing season and early harvest. The mild ocean temperatures that accompany “El Nino” conditions kept the vineyards two to three degrees above average for the entire season. Importantly, the steady, accumulated warmth occurred with few prolonged heat spikes. The 2013 vintage was quite similar, but 2014 was differentiated by a third straight year of scarce rainfall, furthering the severity of dry soil conditions. Given the lack of water, our grapevines set a moderately sized crop, smaller than either 2012 or 2013, with thick skins, loose clusters and many “hens and chicks” meaning a mixture of berry sizes.
So what does this mean for the wines?
Overall, our 2014 wines are deeply concentrated with excellent structure and balance. They compare favorably to the fabulous 2013 wines, offering a bit more depth and touch more scaffolding. While they are terrific to drink now, the extra structural element ensures that they will evolve positively for many years.
2014 Rhys Anderson Valley Chardonnay
2014 Rhys Anderson Valley Chardonnay 750ml $39/btl
2014 Rhys Anderson Valley Chardonnay Magnum $99/btl
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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.
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) There’s 500 cases of the 2014 Chardonnay Anderson Valley, which represents a fabulous value. Fermented and aged in 20% new French oak, on lees, with no battonage, it has a touch of tropical characteristics as well as citrus blossom, crushed rocks and ample toasted bread and nuttiness that emerges more on the palate. Clean, classy, impeccably balanced and elegant, buy it by the case and drink bottles over the coming 3-4 years. 90.
2014 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir
2014 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir 750ml $59/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) The 2014 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard is a solid step up over the Anderson Valley release and has more tension, elegance and precision. Offering up classic notes of strawberries, spice, black cherries and a touch of sous bois, it has medium to full-bodied richness, terrific purity of fruit and integrated acidity. Give bottles a year or two and drink through 2026. 94.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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+.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) The 2014 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard is a huge wine. Dark, powerful and intense. The low yields of the vintage are felt in the wine’s massive fruit and pure heft. Dark red cherry, plum, smoke and licorice abound in a towering, somewhat burly wine that is going to need quite a bit of time to come around. Today, the Bearwallow is blowsy. It will be interesting to see if the Bearwallow finds a little more finesse in bottle. 92+.
2014 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir
2014 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir 750ml $79/btl
2014 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir Magnum $179/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) Coming from the high density plantings done by the team at Rhys (it’s also a cellar selection as well), the 2014 Pinot Noir Porcupine Hill Bearwallow Vineyard is another best to date cuvee and is easily the most concentrated and lengthy of the three cuvees from this site. Black raspberries, black cherries, tons of minerality and ground herbs emerge from this young, tight and beautifully focused red that needs 3-4 years of cellaring and will drink beautifully over the following decade or more. 95.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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+.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) The 2014 Pinot Noir Bearwallow Vineyard Porcupine Hill is quite a bit brighter and fresher than the straight Bearwallow. Here the flavors are nicely sculpted throughout. Freshly cut flowers, white pepper and cranberry are some of the signatures in this attractive, focused Pinot Noir from Rhys. Underlying beams of salinity extend the finish nicely. 94.
2014 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay
2014 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay 750ml $79/btl
2014 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay Magnum $179/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) The 2014 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard is another terrific white from this team. Offering tons of white fruits, white peach, honeyed apples and a touch of toasty oak, with a saltiness on the finish, it’s an impeccably balance, clean, pure Chardonnay that excels on its purity of fruit and elegance. It’s beautiful today, but I suspect it will evolve nicely through 2024. 94.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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+.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) The 2014 Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard is the hardest of these four Chardonnays to read today. The aromatics are striking, but the wine has much less to say today on the palate. Powerful and tropically-leaning, the 2014 needs time to come into its own. 92+.
2014 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir
2014 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir 750ml $79/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) Another complete, broad and layered red that delivers on all accounts, the 2014 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard reveals a healthy ruby color as well as a darker core of red and black raspberry fruits, peppery spice and forest floor in its medium to full-bodied, balanced personality. I love its mid-palate, and while it certainly offers pleasure today, it should be at its best from 2019-2029. 94.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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+.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) The 2014 Pinot Noir Alpine Vineyard bristles with energy. Rose petal, mint, white pepper and blood orange give the Alpine its super-appealing aromatic upper register, but there is plenty of depth lurking beneath. Here the flavors are bright and nicely focused, while the richness of the vintage is mostly felt in the dense, potent finish. 95.
2014 Rhys Swan Terrace Pinot Noir
2014 Rhys Swan Terrace Pinot Noir 750ml $99/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) Coming from a small, east-facing section of the Alpine Vineyard and very chalky soils, the 2014 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace is an impeccably balanced, complete Pinot Noir that has everything you could want from the grape. Gorgeous red and black fruits, roasted herbs, smoked earth and spice all jump from the glass of this seamless red that has polished tannin (and plenty of them), a layered, balanced profile and no shortage of length. Like all of these 2014s, it needs short-term cellaring and will have two decades of overall longevity. 96.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) The 2014 Pinot Noir Swan Terrace brings together the richness of the vintage with good aromatic complexity and nuance. The flavors are bold and intense throughout, with plenty of supporting structure to match. Dark red cherry, menthol, dark spices and leather fill out the wine’s ample frame nicely. The 2014 is another wine in the range that is going to require considerable time to come together. This is a decidedly dark and intense Pinot. The 100% whole clusters are nearly buried by the intensity of the fruit. The Swan Terrace is a decidedly dark, brooding wine that shows the more virile side of Pinot. 93.
2013 Rhys Vineyards Skyline Vineyard Syrah
2013 Rhys Vineyards Skyline Vineyard Syrah 750ml $69/btl
Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate (Oct 28, 2016, Issue 227) The inky colored 2013 Syrah Skyline Vineyard is another northern Rhône look-alike that offers terrific notes of black and blue fruits, olive tapenade, bacon fat and smoked meats. Backwards, unevolved and concentrated, yet with beautiful fruit, it needs short-term cellaring and will keep through 2029. 93+.
John Gilman, View From the Cellar (July-August 2016, No 64) 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.
Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media (July 2016) Sadly, the Syrah Skyline Vineyard has run its course, as 2013 is the last vintage. Inky blue and purplish stone fruits, spice, licorice and mint are all nicely pushed forward. The 2013 needs time to develop its aromatics. Today, the Skyline is mostly about fruit. Silky and pliant, the 2013 needs time to be at its very best, even if it drinks well young. This is an especially understated, polished Syrah from Rhys. 93.