TNs (via Zoom tasting): Rhys, Kutch, Thomas and a couple Brunellos

I appreciate Chris Seiber taking the lead on building us this tasting last night. Having not done any group tastings with anyone since February, this event is exactly what I needed. I miss the fellowship and discussion over wines and the time together. We used Zoom to taste these, which only required us to simply rendezvous and get the wines from Chris, then connect via Zoom in the evening. He did all the assembly and labeling, including picking all the wines from his cellar. It’s this kind of generosity that I appreciate about so many of my wine friends.

The night’s wines contained a few aha moments. It was ironic we had two Rhys wines, one showing not that great and the other becoming another WOTY addition to my 2020 list. To the 2009 Alpine Chard, I’m not certain why people are finding this wine as good as some of the TNs say in CT. Our bottle last night was heading in the wrong direction, as you can read in my TN below. In contrast, when I tasted the 2008 Rhys Skyline Pinot Noir, holy sh#t, I knew we had a winner there. Yet another example of the 2008 Rhys vintage Pinot Noirs aging and developing so gracefully. The Skyline was about a perfect of a red wine that I have had in many, many months. Just gorgeous, and is going on my WOTY 2020 list. And the Kutch Dougie, I can see yet again why Jamie feels so strongly about making this wine–it’s a shining example of how good CA Pinot Noir can be.

I’m down with this idea of sharing bottles as we did successfully last night. As I personally struggle to find the right answer to what level of risk is acceptable in getting together with others, the bottle premise that Chris used below was IMO successful, and paired with Zoom, it was a tonic I needed for my soul.

BLIND TASTING VIA ZOOM - Over Zoom (5/14/2020)

  • 2011 Edi Kante Chardonnay La Bora di Kante Venezia Giulia IGT - Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Venezia Giulia IGT
    Tasted blind. I had pegged this for Chenin Blanc, as it had some intersection with how I see that varietal tasting. Honeysuckle and cut green apple aromas. I tasted this twice over a 1/2 hour and the first time through it shows a mango, nectarine and spicy green apple and a lithe but structured palate. On the second pour, I can still feel the structure in the palate, finishing with anise and some toasted wood. I can see how this can ring true for Chardonnay but overall, it gave me kind of a pure, solid Chenin feel. This is a delicious wine, well built and balanced.
  • 2009 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Tasted blind. This shows an advanced color that is bronzy/gold, and the aromatics also give off a nutty, toasted barrel aromatic. The wine is built around apple, some nuttiness, lemon oil and ripe cut mango. The finish oddly shows bright citrus, which juxtaposed with the wood notes, the goldish color and heavier texture, it just seems out of whack to me. For those who know me, I think Alpine Chard is top of the class in California–it’s that damn good and is for me what world class Chard can do, what Rhys does so well, much like the 2017 that just arrived this week. But, I don’t regret finishing my 2009 Chards back in 2017 when I thought they were ready then. Unless this bottle is an aberration for how it has aged, I’d suggest drinking these up as it’s not going in the right direction at all.

  • 2010 Thomas Pinot Noir Dundee Hills - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Tasted blind. Of the flight of 3 Pinots I had in front of me, this was the lightest colored of the three, a light rose in tone. I guessed this as 2011 from California. Little stem in the aromatic which came through as some cracked spice. Cedar, pine needle, tangy, some tobacco leaf and a touch of stone fruit, finishing with a lovely strawberry and herb. This tasted very good but got outclassed tonight by the 2008 Rhys Skyline (which was also blind) that it had to go up against!
  • 2008 Rhys Pinot Noir Skyline Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Tasted blind. Holy crap, this is gorgeous. Balance and depth are immediately noticeable, as the wine is seamless across my palate. Soil/loam, red fruits with blueberry, both that exhibit a purity of ripeness and depth that is sublime. Outstanding, and yet another testament to me as to how good the 2008 Rhys wines are aging. I am thrilled to have one of these left in my cellar. Just wow.
  • 2013 Kutch Pinot Noir McDougall Ranch - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Tasted blind. And as good as the 2008 Rhys Skyline was that was also blind and just before in the flight, I gotta say this 2013 Dougie is fantastic too. In terms of fruit, this was the most fruit expressive. Loads of berry yet a twang of citrus to keep it all together. It’s showing some of the whole cluster, but it’s become well integrated for me as it gives the wine a seasoned herbal note, even perhaps letting the red fruits seem a bit tarry. Dark plum, zesty, with a dark raspberry and great length. I know this stands as one of Jamie’s favorite wines that he has ever made and I can see why. As good as this was last July when we tried it blind with Jamie, it showed again tonight why it’s such a great glass of Pinot Noir. Excellent.

  • 2010 E. Fuligni (Cottimelli) Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    Tasted blind. I love the aromatics here, which show a mix of rose petal, face powder and tar, Juicy and concentrated, lively in the glass with concentrated cherry, a jammy quality that doesn’t become heavy or tiring. Really just pure and drinking very well now, too. Delicious.
  • 2008 Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino - Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino
    Tasted blind. This showed some brett, both in the aromatics and inside the palate. It wasn’t a big blast of brett but enough to distract me, as I don’t care for brett. Dark cherry, a bit fatter and more mouthilling, too. Tangy acid, spice and raspberry, but for me this was beat hands down by the 2010 Fuligni Brunello we tasted alongside it.

Posted from CellarTracker



Very light color and texture. Interesting but not earth shattering. Searching for a note or hint that would scream the variety or location. Thought maybe a Chablis from an off vintage but ultimately decided from the other end of the world.

  • 2009 Rhys Chardonnay Alpine Vineyard - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Blind: I got this, easy, Northern Rhone white blend of roussanne and marsanne. Oops.

What is going on here? I like the wine, really do, because it looks, smells, and taste like a Rhone but if you’re expecting a typical Rhy chardonnay you’re in for a big surprise. Super dark gold color with medium heavy glycerin mouthfeel. yellow fruited.

Hey, I like it blind so I like it when it’s revealed too.

  • 2010 Thomas Pinot Noir Dundee Hills - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills
    Blind: guess Pinot but thought it was Burgundy mainly because it was so light. Could have passed for a 2011 California.

Very lightly color, washed out cherry. Light red fruit, strawberry/raspberry. Nice wine in a feminine style.

I don’t know but when I taste a Rhy with this profile, it’s just calls itself out. This is a very good wine in a great spot right now but no need to drink up. She’s a beauty.

Tasted along side the Rhy Skyline - which awesome wine is more awesome? I was leaning toward the Rhy and the ladies were unanimous in their preference for Kutch. Kutch shows a little juicier and not quite the stem/oak which is probably why the warder preferred it. Excellent.

  • 2009 Lagier Meredith Mondeuse Noir - USA, California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    I brought this as a gift for Chris S. He loves the “duese”. Come to find out he has never had the LM version so this worked out very well.

I love this wine. It comes across as a very high end, well made Aussie Syrah, than anything else. It’s well built, beautiful fruit, meaty, textured, deep purple color. My WOTN with the Rhys.

  • 2018 Fogline Chardonnay Zephyr’s Block - USA, California, Sonoma County, Petaluma Gap
    Very nice. Medium weight. yellow fruit, medium+ acid. long finish. This is drinking well right out of the gate.

Posted from CellarTracker

Hey, cool to see a note on that Edi Kanti. Doesn’t get a lot of play around here and I really dig the '09 of that wine. Glad it showed well.
Nice collection of wines and notes.

Sipping my first Thomas now, a 2012. I find it a bit candied. Is that the vintage or the wine making style? I only ask because you note the '11 as being a bit californicated?

Hey Sh@n,

this was my first bottle of Thomas so I can’t speak to the house style but there are lots of Oregon experts that can chime in.

I’ll make a few clarifications regarding my comments.

In general, 2010, 2011, and 2013 were leaner years in Oregon than 2012 but we’ll wait for conformation. I think 2012 was riper in Oregon and it happened to be a big crop year in California as well.

My comment regarding 2011 California Pinot dealt with the fact that 2011 was a shitty year in California for the growers and winemakers. But the people that did make wine made amazing Pinot, leaner, structured, and elegant. I think 2011 in California is the best vintage for pinot dorks like myself.

2012 was the start of a string of warmer vintages in Oregon. 2013 was marked by the tsunami/typhoon during harvest, but I think that the summer temperatures were still on the warmer side compared to the normal averages. But what’s normal these days? We were there in early September and it was very warm.

Anyway, it’s been a few years since I had a 2012 Thomas. Maybe I’ll open one this weekend and compare with your notes. There should be a thread about the 2012 Thomas mailers which might include John’s thoughts from the post card about the vintage. It was hailed as the greatest vintage since 2008 by the critics. It will definitely be more candied than 2010 or 2011 Thomas.


I’m glad this is taking off. I see it all over facebook and instagram too. I feel like a proud papa watching their kid get at diploma

Nice. I think the concept is a good one and I will give it a try.
You going to give this a name? Perhaps Fushare? Futasting? Fuzoom?

Quite an interesting line up - I like the idea of Brunello being tasted alongside high quality Pinot Noir.
For me, one of the reasons why I enjoy Pinot Noir is the aromatics. They can be beguiling and enticing, seducing the senses. Same with Brunello and even Barolo - particularly with age.


And I thought the brunello was nebbiolo in this tasting.

I didn’t write tasting notes on the brunello because I mixed up the glasses and didn’t realize until it was too late.

Methode bouteille fu

I found the thread, so here’s John’s note from the 2012 Thomas mailing:

"If an envelope can describe a vintage, this is it. Following two of the latest harvest on record, 2012 arrived bearing small clusters and rainless skies. The year presented a near-perfect growing season, marred only by several days of hot and windy weather in the final weeks before harvest. The conditions, similar to those that occurred in 2003 and 2006, tend to concentrate the fruit. How the winemaker chooses to handle this determines whether the resulting wine emphasizes power or elegance. Musically, it’s a choice between Janis and Scott. I’ll leave the full-tilt boogie to other winemakers and go with Scott.

This is a bottling that, unlike those of 2010 & 2011, doesn’t beg for several years cellaring. The tannins are modest, the acidity bright and the alcohol is an actual 13.7% so as to complement food. Enjoy!"

Yikes, if 2003 and 2006 are comparable vintages, it’s probably time to start drinking. I have no experience with 2003 and 2006 Thomas just my experiences with other Oregon wines from those vintages. Sure, there are overperformers or outliers in year vintage.


Wow, thanks for the wealth of information. I corked the '12 and put it in the fridge to get more air. Interested in trying more of the Thomas; interesting notes on CT suggesting a style shift in Thomas in more recent vintages (with one comment suggesting some vineyard/vine changes).

I have every vintage of Thomas in my cellar since 2004. I can check on a '12 and report back (if I can find one in what must be one of the world’s most unorganized cellars). I am very sensitive to candied pinot and have never noticed a candied profile on any Thomas but the 13.7 alc worries me. It may well be that I have not as of yet opened a '12.

A recent 08 Rhys Alpine PN was excellent after a long airing. I may try the 07 next.

'12 Thomas.jpg
Well, I found a '12 without much problem.
I am certain now I had not previously opened a '12.
At first I got no candied impression at all.
But now, fifteen minutes after pouring into my Grassl Cru, there is no mistaking it.
It’s got some interesting sage/earth on the nose and it is definitely a lighter bodied graceful wine with ample acidity and yet there is a hollow yet sweet midpalate and the finish is candied. This is not a typical Thomas. Maybe it is in a bad window but I am not optimistic that this will age well. The wine is already showing some faint browning on the almost watery rim.
I never thought I would see myself typing such abject sacrilege, but I don’t like this particular Thomas.

Thomas, FWIW, we had the Pinots in the second flight (wines 3 through 5), and the Brunellos were in the final flight (wines 6 and 7). So, they weren’t side by side but maybe I am taking your post too literal.

Frank, those 2008 Rhys Pinots are definitely something else.

Been doing this with a group here in the Bay, I think we’ve now done 5 weeks. Charlie’s idea is definitely spreading, this time in a good way neener

In some ways, I’ve enjoyed doing these zoom tastings even more than actual offlines. There is more focus on each of the wines, everyone is involved, less side discussion away from the whole group, etc. as much as I’d love to be meeting up in a restaurant, zoom tasting has its positives.

I know there have been some where wines are shipped longer distances, I think some of that will continue even after we are able to offline in person again.

Alan, we are already kicking around the next date to do this. Really enjoyed the format.

Frank, thanks so much for these great TN’s. You guys just happened to pick some of my favorite wines to taste (Rhys, Kutch, and Fuligni)…

A quick question just for clarification (because I love Fuligni Brunello). You said in your TN that you tasted the 2010 Fuligni Brunello, but in your note on the Valdicava, you referred to the Fuligni as a 2008, not a 2010. Which vintage of the Fuligni did you taste? The 2010 vintage in Brunello was monumental, while the 2008 vintage was considered good, but not great…