Vintage Summaries from 2004 to 2011
Each year at this time we open our library and taste through past vintages of each Rhys wine that we have made. The primary goal is to provide customers with updated tasting notes and drinking window recommendations but it is also quite educational to revisit our winemaking decisions and see how the wines are showing. Notes on specific wines are published on our website HERE, but we thought customers might also enjoy reading the more generalized vintage summaries below.
2012 was an easy vintage with moderate temperatures and great hang time at harvest. The wines combine good ripeness with the highest acidity we have seen. After a year in the bottle, our impression of each wine is even more positive than our heady initial impressions. It will be great fun to check back after a decade or so and pick a favorite vintage from the strong 2012, 2013 and 2014 trio. The ‘12s can all be approached today but deserve some cellar time to open and improve. Unlike our earlier vintages these wines will not need as much air upon opening.
This very atypical vintage has been quite unpredictable from the outset. Given the cool conditions and high acidity, we expected these wines might be stubborn in the cellar. Instead they are aging at a good pace and many are quite approachable. In particular wines like the Bearwallow, Family Farm, Home and Skyline are drinking very well already. The Horseshoe Pinot is quite special but like the Alpine Pinot, it will be much better in a few years.
2010 was a cool and variable year with vicious heat spikes. These conditions make it harder than usual to generalize about the wines since the timing of the heat affected each vineyard differently. Overall we are quite happy with the vintage at Rhys. Right now the Family Farm, Skyline, Home and Bearwallow are drinking well while the Alpine, Horseshoe and Swan need more time.
2009 produced some of the ripest wines we have seen. While we initially worried about this, the wines are drinking quite well and in many cases have lost their initial baby fat. In particular the Alpine, Swan Terrace, Bearwallow and Skyline are showing very well. Like 2010 some of the wines still need a couple of years in the cellar.
2008 wines are best described as hugely concentrated and hugely structured. This structure is taking its time to resolve and all of the wines will be much better in a few years. These wines require air to be enjoyed now. If opened, we recommend a good hour or more in a decanter before drinking. The most approachable wines from this vintage are Family Farm, Bearwallow and Skyline.
The 2007 vintage has been a bit frustrating. After showing very well in barrel, the wines shut down completely once bottled and have remained impenetrable until recently. The Family Farm and Skyline are opening and the Skyline is a real knockout. The Horseshoe Pinot is also stirring from its slumber. We still recommend more cellar time for the Alpine, Alpine Hillside, Swan Terrace and Home Pinots.
In hindsight, 2006 was probably one of the weakest vintages for CA Pinot in the last 10 years. It was also the first vintage of full production for Alpine and Family Farm vineyards. Given this vintage context, we are extremely happy with the evolution of our 2006 Rhys Pinots. The wines are still youthful but have entered their long drinking window. Right now the Alpine and Swan Terrace are drinking well. The 2006 Alpine Hillside still requires some decant time but has shown quite well in blind tastings of similarly aged Grand Cru Burgundy. We expect the 2006s to be going strong at age 20.
No Rhys wines were produced in 2005.
2004 was Rhys’ first commercial vintage and we made just a few barrels of estate wine. The wines are fully mature now and drinking well. It is fun to taste these garage wines, including the first Alpine Pinot and Chardonnay, and see the early promise of three of our sites.