Welcome to the spring 2023 offering of the Rhys estate single vineyard wines from the 2020 vintage. This offering is an unusual one for us, as the production in 2020 was only 20% of normal. As a result of this decreased production, the only single vineyard wines on offer are from our Bearwallow and Mt. Pajaro vineyards. The good news is that these low production wines offer superb quality, as the Chardonnays display the classic blend of minerality, bright acidity, and complexity that have become a hallmark of Rhys Chardonnays, while the Pinot Noirs are energetic, red-fruited, and graceful. We’re also thrilled to offer the 2019 Bearwallow Syrah, a variety that we think is perfectly suited to the cool climate of the deep end of Anderson Valley.
The 2020 Vintage
This offering is focused on wines grown at our Bearwallow and Mt. Pajaro estates from 2020, the vintage that almost wasn’t! While the 2020 wildfires had a devastating effect on much of California’s grape crop, including five of our seven estate vineyards, the unique location of these two vineyards allowed them to produce pristine, compelling wines of elegance and intensity. Once again, this vintage has demonstrated the advantages of Bearwallow’s position in the deep end of Anderson Valley. In difficult vintages like 2011, 2015 and now 2020, this vineyard finds a way to produce tremendous wines. The deep end of the valley was spared the smoke damage that occurred throughout northern California and we were able to harvest at optimal ripeness. Mt. Pajaro, located at the far southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and blessed with cool breezes from Monterey Bay, enjoys a similar geographic sweet spot. The fires that prevented us from making any wine from Alpine, Horseshoe, Home, Family Farm or Skyline vineyards, spared Mt. Pajaro’s hillside just 30 miles to the south.
The 2020 growing season was yet another drought year with a warm summer, giving the wines excellent concentration but maintaining elegance through ample acidity. We expect them to show well when young and age gracefully. These wines have been analyzed consistently through harvest, aging, and bottling, and we guarantee their quality. This will be the only offering of Rhys’ 2020 vintage wines.
The 2020 vintage produced graceful and elegant wines that should drink well in the near-term, especially with some air. However, they have significant aging potential as well, especially wines like the Porcupine Hill.
2020 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Chardonnay
This vintage continues the recent string of beautiful Chardonnays from Bearwallow. The character of the site is on full display here, offering bright orchard fruit, white flowers, and soil tones. John Gilman called it “deep, full bodied, pure, and tightly knit. 94”
2020 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Chardonnay
The only Santa Cruz Mountain single vineyard Chardonnay in 2020, the Mt. Pajaro shows how quickly this vineyard has risen in the Rhys stable. Crystalline minerality and racy acidity combine with perfectly ripe fruit to deliver a stunning Chardonnay. John Gilman agreed, describing the wine as “mineral-driven, with zesty acids, superb focus and depth at the core, great balance and a long, vibrant and complex finish. 93+”
2020 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir
Bearwallow is truly a workhorse vineyard for Rhys. Even in the most difficult vintages it produces an excellent crop and the quality continues to elevate with vine age. 2020 is no exception, with its combination of delicious crunchy red fruit, deep soil tones, and lifting acidity. John Gilman described it as “bright, full-bodied, rock solid at the core, with tangy acids, impeccable balance and grip, fine-grained tannins and a long, complex and beautifully focused finish…it will have a long and lovely life in bottle. 94.”
2020 Rhys Mt. Pajaro Vineyard Pinot Noir
The combination of tight spacing, low-yielding clones and the rocky marine subsoils of Mt. Pajaro give our only 2020 Santa Cruz Mountain Pinot Noir tremendous complexity, intensity, and depth. A classic fresh red fruit profile of cherry, cranberry, and raspberry is carried by silky tannins and harmoniously balanced acidity with a long finish of red fruit and earth. John Gilman agreed, writing the palate is “…bright, full- bodied and very transparent in personality, with a good core of fruit, fine-grained tannins, lovely balance and grip and a long, complex and focused finish. 93.”
2020 Rhys Porcupine Hill Pinot Noir
Porcupine Hill is the perfect embodiment of Bearwallow, meant to provide a distillation of the minerality, concentration, and site transparency of the vineyard at its best. In 2020 this translates to a focused concentrated mélange of deep red fruit, electric minerality, and tremendous length. This is a worthy cellar candidate that will only improve with age. Gilman gave it one of his top ratings for the entire vintage, commenting “The backend energy here is stunning! This is a brilliant bottle of young pinot noir. 96.”
2019 Rhys Bearwallow Vineyard Syrah
Bearwallow Syrah?! Yes! After careful study of the vineyard, we realized that Bearwallow could be an exceptional site for cool weather syrah and 2019 is the perfect vintage for this debut offering. With the savory notes of a classic cool climate Syrah, beautiful aromatics and the red fruit of the deep end of Anderson Valley, this is a rare cool climate Syrah that will drink well young but continue to blossom with cellar time. Antonio Galloni described it as “[offering] plenty of fruit and savory elements [that] already shows quite a bit of mid-palate depth. 94”
What’s coming in 2023? The return of the Hillsides!
To assist with your planning, we would like to provide an update on Rhys Vineyards’ offerings for this year. Due to the limited production from the 2020 vintage, we extended the release of the 2019 vintage wines over three releases and a period of 18 months. However, for the 2021 vintage, we will revert to our usual twice-per-year release schedule for vineyard-designated wines.
Here’s a preview of what you can expect from us in the first half of this year:
March 21st – The final offering of 2021 futures, available in both large and small formats.
June 13th – The much-anticipated return of the Hillsides! With no Hillside production in 2020, we were able to age the 2019 vintage an additional year. Allocations will be based on recent purchase history.
July 11th – The first 2021 Rhys Appellation series offering.
We are looking forward to sharing these wines with you!!
Thank you for your support from all of us at Rhys!