Welcome to the Spring 2008 release of Rhys Vineyards! It seems even longer, but it has been a full year since our last release. We appreciate your patience and we are really excited to offer wines from both the 2005 and 2006 vintages at this time.
The 2005 and 2006 vintages in California had many similarities. Both vintages featured stormy Spring weather and rare late rains that lasted into June. After fairly normal Summer conditions, both vintages ended with cool harvests that allowed for leisurely picking decisions and produced wines that emphasize balance. The vintages had some key differences as well.
In 2005, the weather during the critical flowering period was quite unstable and wet which severely disrupted, reduced or even eliminated yields for vines on the “edge” or coolest coastal zones of California. This had the unfortunate effect of eliminating most of our nascent Rhys estate production except for a single barrel of 2005 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Chardonnay. Meanwhile the production of our Alesia wines, from fruit purchased from Sonoma and the Santa Lucia Highlands, was greatly reduced as well. In 2005, these cool, low-yield conditions produced wines of balance, concentration and a distinctive dried herbal complexity.
After the low yields and heartbreak of 2005, the vines responded forcefully and 2006 offered some of the highest yields we have seen. In particular, we are ecstatic that our rocky Alpine vineyard averaged a full 2 tons per acre. While this is considered a low yield by most standards, it is enough to allow us to offer our 2006 Rhys Alpine Vineyard Pinot Noir to all current customers in the Fall of 2008. We are able to offer better quantities of Alesia as well. We think 2006 is best described as a true Pinot Noir lover’s vintage. While not quite as concentrated as 2004 or 2005, 2006 emphasizes the restrained balance and beautifully complex character of Pinot Noir. It is a style of wine that we love and this mailer will offer the first of our 2006 releases.
With this release, we are introducing several new Alesia vineyard and regional offerings that we hope you will enjoy. From the chilly Falstaff Road Vineyard on California’s Sonoma Coast, we are releasing both the 2005 and 2006 bottlings. Located on the edge of viability, Falstaff Road Vineyard is so cool that the growing season temperatures are actually lower on average than those of Burgundy for the entire growing season. This vineyard combines the classically seductive red and black cherry fruit of Sonoma’s Goldridge soils with the particular freshness of this chilly microclimate.
We are also offering our first blend from the cool Green Valley sub-appellation of Russian River Valley. The primary component of this blend comes from the 2 acre organically managed Layton Family Vineyard. This well exposed and drained vineyard has excellent “Heritage” clones and shows terrific potential.
Lastly, we are particularly excited to release the 2005 Syrah from the Fairview Ranch in Santa Lucia Highlands. The terrific natural balance of the 2005 vintage allowed the decomposed granitic soil of this region to fully express its distinctive citrus notes and intense minerality. We feel that this is the finest Syrah that we have released to date.
Allocations, Upcoming Releases and Updates
While we are able to increase allocations for our 2006 offerings, please accept our apologies for the small 2005 production. In particular our 2005 Chardonnay production is a mere 200 bottles and we can only offer it to a few of our customers. The good news is that relief is in sight as we plan to release 125 cases of 2006 Rhys estate Chardonnay in the 2008 Fall offering. In general, quantities of our 2006 wines will be better than past vintages though production decreased 40% for 2007. If you would like more wine, please remember to use the Additional Quantities request box since we are often able to fill some of these requests. Also, if you have a chance please visit our website. It is now updated with expanded Tasting Notes and Drinking Windows for our wines. We hope these recommendations are helpful for determining when to open those cellared bottles.
The entire Rhys Team