Now for the wines:
2012 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 800 cases
This represents our most geographically diverse blend to date. Comprised of Manzanita, Riddle and Lancel Creek vineyards plus declassified Summa, Occidental Ridge and Silver Eagle barrels this can't help but be the best edition of this wine we've produced. Red flowers, red berries, clove, crushed mint and baking spice lead into a grippy mid palate that focuses on pure varietal expression. With no new oak used there's nothing to stand in the way of the fruit purity that is the hallmark of the vintage. Most of the structure comes from fruit tannin and it provides a texture that might be the most interesting piece of the wine.
2012 Rivers-Marie Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 212 cases
From a combo of clones 115 and Pommard, the Gioia is always one of the most compelling wines of the vintage. The bottle I'm drinking tonight has an amazing completeness to it. The site is a bit schizophrenic being in a cool location but featuring a warm true western exposure. The result is a wine that is the most similar to Summa in the entire portfolio but with more muscle. There's 33% new oak here but it is completely integrated which allows the savory elements of lavender, balsam wood and pine needles to shine through. This wine strikes the best balance between acid, fruit and tannin of all the ’12s out of the gate.
2012 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 450 cases
We feel like we got everything right with the farming of this block in 2012. It's become a high vigor block due to some excessive fertilization throughout the years so for the first time ever, we experimented with additional fruiting canes at pruning to control vigor. At least for this vintage, it worked well. The vines appeared more balanced throughout the growing season and we were able to dry farm this block for the first time ever. Of course one year is a small sample size. Our new found genius farming strategy proved to be a bit of anomaly when 2013 rolled around and we were right back to 1 ton per acre. If you're a Summa fan, enjoy this opportunity to load up on a great vintage. With 2013, it looks like we are right back to 1 or 2 bottle allocations. The aromatics here are deeply pitched with notes of rhubarb, orange zest and sous bois. There's good palate weight here but plenty of acidity to provide cut, prolong the finish and focus the overall wine. The red berry focus provides even more perceived tension and the wine actually tightens with a little aeration. There's plenty of energy here and for the first time ever, plenty of quantity. We will enjoy it while it lasts.
2012 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 275 cases
The exoticism of the aromatics of this wine always amazes us. We are at a loss to attribute it to anything other than vine age. The acidity here is bracing and the wine is in need of time to deepen and put on a little weight. The wine right now is more about texture than fruit. The nose features sandalwood, lavender, sous bois, menthol and citrus peel. There's a perception here of whole cluster with a graphite note but none was used. This block was picked on October 15th at 22.8 brix.
2012 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 325 cases
For the first time ever, some of all three clones (115, 667, 777) from this site made the final blend. As mentioned in previous mailers, this site once again carries the distinction of being the warmest but also the most acidic. There's great generosity to the entry of the wine but so much natural acidity that the wine quickly turns from juicy to mouthwatering. We don't like to think we are prone to drooling but it's been known to happen after first sips of this wine. This is also one of the sites where we are employing a small amount of whole cluster to add breadth and complexity to the mid-palate. The juicy entry shows notes of pennyroyal mint, sassafras, white flowers, plum and a bit of graphite from the stem retention. This bottling also always has the greatest amount of fruit tannin in the lineup. Here it combines with a little stem tannin to add weight without heaviness. Pomegranate, minerals and mint build on the finish. We always think of Summa as our flagship site but this deserves similar recognition.
2012 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 350 cases
Not sure there is such a thing as fully lignified stems but as we destemmed fruit from this site in 2012, the brownest stems I'd ever seen were kicking out of the destemmer. It was an easy call upon closer visual inspection to reserve approximately 10% of each clone for whole cluster trials. Here the stems not only improve the middle but also give the aromatic a more expressive, lifted quality. They contribute a woodsy note to the wine that complements the intensity/fatness of the fruit inherent in the site. There's sassafras, mint, smoke, a wide mix of fruit colors and baking spice. This bottling always had great depth but now there's breadth and structure to complete the wine. First impression of this wine is dark and brooding but with air some higher toned orange notes begin to emerge. This also has the same mouth watering characteristic as Occidental Ridge. Acidity is very present but it is the wine's structure that carries the finish.
2012 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 200 cases
When Alex Kanzler first reached out to discuss us jumping into the vineyard we were sold before we ever walked the site. Once we met Alex and his parents and saw the attention to detail in the vineyard we thought maybe this was too good to be true. It is our great pleasure to introduce this vineyard to the lineup and we look forward to a long relationship with the Kanzler family. We are certainly off to a good start with vintages 2012 and 2013. Our first crack at this site is composed of clones 115, 667 and Pommard. The nose features blue fruit, pie filling, minerals, baking spice and some nice wood notes. Nose is expressive and hints at underlying structure. The palate is more open knit with acidity as its buffer. There's an incredible fruit focus to the finish with elements of black cherry, raspberry and plums hitting the entire black/red/purple spectrum.
2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - 450 cases, 14.1% alcohol, 15% new oak
Is this the best Sonoma Coast to date? Everything about the vintage and where the wine was sourced from would suggest so. Coming from arguably the most successful part of Occidental, it is comprised of 8 barrels of Riddle Vineyard 828/Pommard, 5 barrels of Lancel Creek Vineyard 777 and 3 barrels of Occidental Ridge Vineyard 667. All the high toned notes of red and orange fruits are there with a freshness that comes from the delicate nature of the vintage. The SC bottling usually absorbs some sites that saw a bit too much heat to make the vineyard designate cut. It can render the final product a bit too heavy for some folks on the mailing list. This is not the case with the '11. Its persistent lightness is refreshing and mouth coating without weighing down the palate. It's basically what the 2010 would have been minus the late heat of that vintage.
2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast - 225 cases, 14.1% alcohol, 40% new oak
It's rarely the case that the best wine in a lineup also possesses the greatest volume. We feel like that's the case here with the Silver Eagle. Its location in the northeast part of Occidental allowed it to achieve full maturity before any rain hit. Each block was fermented separately but we knew very shortly into fermentation that it would all make the vineyard designate cut. The smell of the lots filled the crush pad each time we punched them down. It's higher toned than the '09 and '10 editions, more tuned to red and blue fruits than black. The blue fruits give the wine a coolness to the palate that suggests winter. The persistence of the wine is also noticeable. The wine holds plenty in reserve but it's such a pleasure to drink now that it's hard to resist. The whip crack of acidity in the mid-palate keeps the wine refreshing and lends ample length to the finish. This is the wine we initially dreamed of when we signed on to this site.
2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast - 160 cases, 12.8% alcohol, 33% new oak
This wine is such a departure from everything that has come before it. Usually the heaviest wine in the lineup, it is one of the lightest in 2011 falling in line right after Summa. It's a bit hard to describe. All of the usual ORV characteristics are present in abundant quantity: pennyroyal mint, cranberry, crushed blackberry, clove and cinnamon. The wine though sits so lightly on the palate as to be almost unrecognizable compared to years past. I assume most of this can be chalked up to the lower alcohol but I also think there's more true ripening to this edition. All 3 blocks hung into mid-October, a few weeks longer than normal. The wine has begun to take on weight post-bottling but I imagine it will continue to fill out for some time.
2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast - 143 cases, 13.0% alcohol, 50% new oak
This is maybe the most similar wine to its 2010 edition due largely to the exoticness of the site. Notes of sandalwood, smoke, licorice, citrus peel and lavender dominate the nose and palate. Like the wines from Summa, we really haven't tasted anything similar to it. Comprised of an equal blend of 113 and Pommard clones, it shows the elegance and power associated with both selections. Its proximity to Summa will always place it more in the red/orange fruit camp but it has an extra dose of fruit tannin that gives it more heft than other wines from the true Coast. This wine for us is worth it for the beauty of the aromatic alone.
2011 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast - 204 cases, 12.4% alcohol, 75% new oak
Quantity more than quality dictated combining all blocks from Summa into one bottling for the first time ever. This wine reminds me so much of the 2005 editions of Summa and Summa Old, two wines that were hard to allocate then and would be impossible to do so today. It's always interesting to combine blocks and watch what attributes of each poke out in the finished blend. For the better wines what we like from each component seems to be what stands out in the end. This is no exception. The regular Summa provides depth of flavor to the old vines breadth and fruit tannin. It's interesting to taste an edition of Summa with this much early completeness. It will still require plenty of patience to see its peak but there are fewer early holes in this vintage than usual.
2011 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay B. Thieriot Vineyard Sonoma Coast - 185 cases, 14.2% alcohol, 25% new oak
This once again was the last thing we harvested for the vintage. Given the weather it required more sorting than we had ever done before. We probably culled out 15% of the pick for botrytis concerns. The palate though shows that we couldn't get it all out. There's a honeyed character to the wine that we've tasted in some higher end white Burgundies that we like. It's a nice balance to the 3.2 finished pH the wine possesses. This is the only 2011 that is actually denser than its 2010 version. That wine needs a ton of time still where the '11 seems pretty open knit now. It is citrus fruit focused as always but with a little more brioche and hazelnut than years past. We cut back once again on the new wood component to allow more vineyard expression in this wine.
2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—600 cases, 14.1% alc., 25% new oak
Comprised of 5 barrels of Silver Eagle clone 828, 7 barrels of Lancel Creek Vineyard clone 777, 9 barrels of Riddle Ranch clones 828 and Pommard and all 3 barrels of Willow Creek, this offering is quite a bit different from the 2009. It's definitely from a riper part of town but possesses a similar acid/tannin profile. The character here is more pure red fruited with notes of cranberry, red raspberry, spearmint, underbrush and sour cherry. The wine starts out pretty primary and throws off some of its weight as it opens. Given the price point, it's a nice entry wine for the program but still an offering we take no less seriously than all the single vineyard designates. We feel this edition will drink very well early on and offer you an insight into why we love Occidental in 2010 so much.
2010 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—169 cases, 14.2% alc., 40% new oak
This year we managed to bottle the wine absent all signs of reduction. Because of this it definitely comes across as higher-toned with more of a pomegranate/pine needle profile. Expertly farmed by Ulises Valdez, the balance you see in the vineyard you can actually taste in the wine. It's more of a medium weight wine compared to last year's which allows it to be big for the portfolio but still retain focus and delineation. With more to choose from, we were able to dial in the blend better focusing on what Ulises calls clone VR and sprinkling in a bit of clone 828 for complexity. The 2011 in barrel looks to be the third consecutive solid effort from this site and we hope it continues to be a part of the program for a long time.
2010 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—185 cases, 14.1% alc., 60% new oak
We've consumed 6 bottles of the 2005 Occidental Ridge in the last few months. We knew this wine was good but its current condition also shows just how slowly this site ages. Because it tends to be a bit more black/purple fruited young, the perception is it's meant to be drunk young. Only time really reveals a wine's aging curve and this vineyard's offerings are all heading in the right direction. Most years this possesses the lowest pH and highest fruit tannin of all the wines we release and 2010 is no exception. With our sixth vintage of this wine we are starting to see a nice consistency in its profile: pine needles, pennyroyal mint, sage, clove, cinnamon and plums. Given its strict barrel selection, this wine continues to get more serious every year and has begun to divide our mailing list at times into a Summa vs. Occidental Ridge debate.
2010 Rivers-Marie Gioia Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—120 cases, 14.1% alc., 80% new oak
Here's where the second set of wines for the vintage begins. Gioia is a 2 acre parcel located just west of Occidental proper on Joy Road at the foot of Fitzpatrick. It's probably a mile from Summa as the crow flies planted to a mix of 115 and Pommard. We were fortunate enough to buy this fruit in 2004 but after receiving word it would be the only year, we blended it into the Sonoma Coast. Given the current goodness of that wine, we jumped at the opportunity to buy this fruit again. Its red/orange fruit profile is the first we've seen outside of Summa. The notes look very similar between the two sites: citrus peel, sous bois, pomegranate, sour cherry. The thing that separates them is the severity of the slope of Gioia. It remains flat for all of 50 feet before falling steeply down as it heads to the woods east of the vineyard. This leads to a slightly higher tannic impact than at Summa and a touch more ripeness due to the grade. It's a bit brooding right now but if our brief history with this wine is any indication, it will be one of the stars of the vintage.
2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—200 cases, 13.8% alc., 50% new oak
Nice to see the 98 block of Summa return to the lineup. After not being happy with the 2009 version, we spent most of the off season trying to figure out what we could do to give this wine a bit more dimension. After a lot of tasting, the one current unexplored input became obvious, stems. The vintage and its long hang time certainly allowed for the possibility. Not knowing quite what to expect, we settled on 10% as our trial number and couldn't be happier with the results. For us, the wine always lacked an extra degree of breadth at bottling. The stems seem to have filled the wine out a bit giving it more intellectual interest and also helping to firm the wine up a bit. The added structure carries the finish a bit further than normal and makes for a fresher seeming wine. It cuts into the initial sappiness we look for in the mid-palate but with time in the decanter, the classic Summa texture works its way to the forefront.
2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—137 cases, 13.0% alc., 80% new oak
A few weeks ago after getting both kids to sleep, Genevieve comes down stairs, picks up the glass of wine I've poured her, takes a quick smell and says “this is Summa Old Vines.” That in a nutshell is what we try to achieve with this site. We've always been drawn to its distinctiveness and we don't ever to want to do anything to get in its way. Checking my notes from last year, the 2010 edition comes across very similarly: expansive nose, red fruits, orange peel, sweet hay, pine needles, black tea and red/white floral elements. Young, it's always a wine more about potential and breadth than depth. Picked October 20th just shy of 1 ton per acre, it possesses remarkable weight for a wine that struggled to hit 13% alcohol.
2010 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast—180 cases, 13.4% alc., 50% new oak
Of course the year we double the vine acreage we buy yields are tiny. This was our last piece to harvest in 2010 and until the heat in late September hit, we weren't so sure it was going to come in. Pressing out at 3.14 pH and 10 grams of acidity it's a bit of an understatement to say the wine has nice cut. As touched on previously, we feel we do a better job of making this wine every year. This might be the first year where all the potential we saw in the raw material is realized in the finished product. Once again we treated every barrel as an individual wine carefully monitoring both primary and malo completion in every lot. As in the past, there was no inoculation for either fermentation and no lees stirring. For the first time we bottled this wine at the same time as the Pinots to capture as much freshness and primary character as we could. The nose on this wine is more expressive currently than any of the Pinots. It's heavy on hazelnuts, lemon meringue, lime/lemon zest, lanolin, brioche and white chocolate. Now that we are four years in it's hard to find original things to say about this site/wine but I can say without reservation it's a wine we love to drink.
2009 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—279 cases, 13.9% alc., 33% new oak
This 12 barrel blend is comprised of roughly 50% Summa, 25% Willow Creek and 25% Lancel Creek, a new site for us leased by Ulises Valdez and planted to 777 and Pommard clones. The reason for the high percentage of Summa is for the first time there will be no regular Summa bottling. The quality just wasn't there. Still not sure why, but the wine lacked punch in the mid-palate so it was an easy decision to declassify it into our Sonoma Coast blend. That naturally has lead to this bottling leaning more toward the Summa red/orange fruit spectrum than any previous SC offering. The nose draws you in with notes of high toned pomegranate, cranberry, orange peel and coriander. The palate balances fruit and savory combining baking spices and black cherry with a little sous bois. The result is a very clean, very pure expression of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.
2009 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—86 cases, 14.2% alc., 50% new oak
We mentioned our excitement about this vineyard in last year's newsletter and now all 4 barrels are in bottle. We have also managed to make a wine with reduction for the first time ever. The wine was pretty open knit pre-bottling, but given the wine's extract and a healthy dose of sulfur, it has been locked down ever since. The last bottle we opened we decanted, returned to bottle, left on the kitchen counter and drank 24 hours later. It finally had a lot to say. True garnet in color, it has the darkest, most brooding nose of the bunch. The palate ranges from high-toned early to sappy in the middle with a weight that belies the youth of the vineyard. It's more of a purple fruited wine with notes of plums, currants, barrel spice and white flowers. This will be one to keep your hands off of for a few years to allow the reduction and baby fat to subside.
2009 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—133 cases, 13.5% alc., 33% new oak
This is unlike anything we've ever made before and what leads us to state that individually, the 2009s are as different from each other as we've ever seen. One of the features of 2009 that contributed to such a small crop was a phenomenon people call chicks and hens or peas and pumpkins; clusters full of alternating sized berries. The peas at Occidental Ridge were exceptionally small in '09, some comprised of only skin and seed. Twenty-four hours after de-stemming the fruit into tank, the juice was already dark purple. In the glass I'd call it electric purple due to the high acidity we see from the vineyard every year. The common thread that links this vintage to the four previous bottlings is there, but everything is amplified in 2009. It is once again a pure purple fruited wine with an aromatic and palate profile of cut hay, plum, menthol, and pennyroyal, a mint we found growing wild in the vineyard. We have slowly eased off the new oak each year and this edition wears its wood treatment better than any previous vintage.
2009 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—106 cases, 13.2% alc., 80% new oak
We've run out of original things to say about this wine. Every year we try to figure out where the current bottling ranks among previous editions and this year I'm at a loss. I finally have to admit I simply love this vineyard and the wine it produces and leave it at that. There's really nothing we've come across that tastes like it. The 2009 does a nice job once again of balancing its fruit and savory components. The high-toned red fruit/orange peel quality is there to give the wine its aromatics balanced nicely on the palate by cut hay, black tea, pine needles and a sous bois element that manages to be sweetly savory. The wine is packed with dry extract and remarkably weighty for 13.2% alcohol. It is pretty awe inspiring to drink this wine knowing that this great site will always be a part of Rivers-Marie.
2009 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast—116 cases, 13.9% alc., 60% new oak
Some day we will make more of this. Once again we've bottled 5 barrels of Chardonnay and given the following, we expect it to go quickly. Like the 2007 and 2008, it's the cut in this wine that we like the most. There's plenty of richness to go around but the acid spine is what sets the wine apart from most other California Chardonnays. The notes across the three vintages are similar: lanolin, lemon meringue, lime blossom, hazelnuts and a hint of white chocolate on the finish. This might be the most accessible of the three vintages given our gradual reduction in the percentage of new oak. Regardless we like the precision the acid lends to the wine now knowing it will only improve and broaden over time.
2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 225 cases, 13.8% alcohol, 25% new French
This is the $25 Pinot we first set out to make. Combining all the Willow Creek, the two youngest blocks of Summa and two barrels from Occidental Ridge, the 2008 Sonoma Coast captures everything we love about the fruit from Occidental. It's already the most aromatically complete of the bunch jumping out of the glass with sassafras, pine needles, orange peel and a light floral note. Whereas the 2007 version was the drinker of the vintage, the 2008 may take a little time to unwind unless it's given ample air. It's always a snapshot into what the vintage holds and this shows the higher toned nature of the year perfectly.
2008 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 225 cases, 14.4% alcohol, 40% new French
Our one offering from the east side of Occidental, this wine is always a study in contrast. It's the warmest site but it has the highest acid. It has the longest growing season but the lowest pH. The fruit here gets riper than any other site but the wine features the greatest quantity of fruit tannin. These are the things now four years into it that make this site special. The wine has a seamlessness to it right now that the other three Pinots in this offering don't have. It's the most mouth coating of the bunch as well with a bigness that is buffered nicely by its 3.5 pH. Being on the border of Sonoma Coast and Russian River it features qualities of both retaining a sour cherry coastal flavor while flirting with blacker fruits of a more plummy nature.
2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast — 200 cases, 14.1% alcohol, 60% new French
We continue to be impressed by the evolution of this block within Summa Vineyard. You can always taste the kinship between this wine and its old vine sibling but now there's a firm identity present here. The regular Summa bottling shows mineral notes, pomegranate, red/orange fruit peel, forest floor like the Old Vines but this wine is deeper, denser and rounder. It has a mid-palate sappiness to it that we shoot for in all our wines, a trait we've come to love in great Burgundies. There's more generosity in this wine right now and like the Occidental Ridge bottling might be the wine to open first in 2008.
2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast — 175 cases, 13.0% alcohol, 100% new French oak
The most focused wine of the 2008 vintage, the Summa Old Vines tastes like a wine that has been fully realized. As we said above, there is similarity between the two Summa bottlings but the Old Vines has a broader palate due, we assume, to vine age. This is always a wine to contemplate and the 2008 is no different. Beginning with notes of white and red flowers, orange peel, licorice and kirsch, the nose has an ethereal quality that makes Pinot Noir so seductive. There's a big mid palate acid blast that more than balances the brooding nature of the wine. The acidity helps to flesh out the finish and give the wine its verve. We like the tautness of the wine right now but there's no doubt it will age gracefully and add some sweetness as it develops.
2008 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Chardonnay Sonoma Coast —126 cases, 13.5% alcohol, 70% new French oak
Without talking overall quality, we simply did a better job of making this wine in 2008. The raw material and potential quality of the two vintages was very similar. Though instead of treating the 2008 as one lot, we monitored every barrel as individual wines to make sure we could track fermentation completion as it happened. In hindsight I believe our lack of this approach for the 2007 allowed too much of that wine to sit unsulfured for way too long. The 2008 has a strong acid spine and features a more green-gold color and a freshness to the palate that the 2007 is missing. Otherwise the notes are very similar between the two vintages: lime blossoms, Meyer lemon, wet stones, lightly toasted hazelnuts and a hint of white chocolate at the end. There is more persistence to the finish of this wine than any other wine we've ever made. The 2007 seemed like a wine that would require patience, the 2008 definitely will.
2007 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 225 cases, 14.2% alcohol, 25% new French oak
This is the drinker in the bunch much like its predecessor. It's a punched up version of the 2006 and a good snapshot into the qualities that make 2007 a superior vintage. This bottling consists of the clone 667 from Occidental Ridge, the youngest block of Summa and three barrels of Willow Creek that didn't make the vineyard cut. It's a nice mix of red and black fruits owing to its vineyard diversity and very coastal in nature minus the firm spine that winds the vineyard bottlings up for a couple years.
2007 Rivers-Marie Willow Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 84 cases, 13.8% alcohol, 33% new French oak
This small 2 acre vineyard is planted entirely to Dijon clone 777. I'd also put this in the drinker category for the vintage. The nose is effusive with violets, black raspberry, citrus peel and sandalwood. Its overall roundness gives the wine appeal from the first sip with some purple fruits, black tea and orange marmalade. The sappy Pinot fruit quality overrides both the acid spine and fruit tannin common on the coast making for the most immediate appeal of all the vineyard designates.
2007 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 180 cases, 14.4% alcohol, 40% new French oak
We fermented two lots of Occidental Ridge fruit in 2007. One combining clones 115 and 777 and the other exclusively 667. After watching the wines mature for 10 months it became clear the first lot would make up the vineyard bottling and the second would go to the Sonoma Coast. They both were classic expressions of the site with an incredibly exotic blend of spine (sub 3.4 pHs) and black fruits. The 115/777 combo possessed ample richness to balance the acid while the 667 proved to be a little shrill. This wine went head to head with the Summa Old Vines for our very own wine of the vintage. The nose is explosive with black and purple fruits, camphor, smoke and redcurrants. The entry consists of more black fruits, wild mint and sassafras. The wall of fruit tannin and acid backbone comes up quickly and this wine, like the '05 and '06, will need time to swallow both. The black fruited profile might suggest a wine with greater accessibility but not in this case. This alone makes the Occidental Ridge expression unique.
2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast— 120 cases, 13.2% alcohol, 60% new French oak
This wine has shades of its 2005 version. The nose has a reductive quality that features elements of sandalwood, orange oil, sour cherry and ripe red Pinot aromas. The floral qualities come on quickly as well with rose petals, lavender and pine needles. The class in the Summa bottlings is really what sets them apart from the rest of the portfolio. Cola, sassafras, cut hay and wet earth combine with the orange/red fruit profile to make this the most coastal of all the bottlings. This even more than the Old Vine wine might take the longest to come around. A couple years in the cellar minimum will be required to see this wine even out.
2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast— 100 cases, 13.4% alcohol, 100% new French oak
Every year a couple of the 100 or so lots I'm responsible for press of in a state that hints at their youthful greatness. In 2007 that was the 1.5 tons of Summa Old Vines. You could smell and taste the vine age in the wine. It's an amped up version of the regular Summa bottling but more than anything it just possesses more depth and Pinot sap than all the other wines. All the components integrate nicely from the highly expressive nose and big entry to the sappy middle and forever finish. All the normal descriptors are there, red fruits, orange oil, lavender, wintergreen, sassafras, rhubarb, violets, but it's the weight of the wine that makes it the best wine we bottle every year. It's a wine to contemplate as it opens. It's youthfully sublime, what we always come back to with a glimpse into the future and its coming greatness.
2007 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Chardonnay Sonoma Coast—120 cases, 13.9% alcohol, 100% new French oak
3.18 finished pH. I keep writing that down to become more comfortable with it. We can't say this is a dead ringer for white Burgundy but we've heard the comparisons from the dozen or so folks who've tasted it. It has liquid mineral, honeyed, lime zest, brioche and white chocolate qualities that suggest it might not be from California until the power of the wine takes over in the finish. The nose can go from fully open to reticent very quickly suggesting it will need some time in bottle to settle down. It was fermented in 100% new wood to tame the acidity and it is barely evident in the wine. The wine was finished in stainless for 2 months after 10 months in oak and bottled without fining or filtration. Because of the pH, malo did not finish until August of last year so the wine was allowed extra time to development as a complete wine compared to the Pinots. We are extremely excited to be making Chardonnay from this illustrious vineyard located directly across the street from Summa.
2006 Rivers-Marie Willow Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 94 cases, 14.1% alcohol, 50% new French oak. This small 2 acre vineyard is planted entirely to Dijon clone 777. After two years of removing all the fruit from the vines to allow for some maturity, it was a relief to see the 1.5 tons per acre we received in 2006. The character of the wine lies somewhere in between Summa and Occidental Ridge. The nose begins shyly, opening to a very floral, citrusy quality with air. The middle is very sappy and sweet with elements of spearmint gum, dusty cherry, tobacco and orange peel. We believe this is a very promising start for a vineyard located in one of the best areas in Occidental.
2006 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast-- 301 cases, 14.4% alcohol, 50% new French oak. A darker fruited and brooding example of Occidental Pinot Noir, the '06 ORV is a curious blend of power and restraint. The fruit profile is all black cherry and blackberries, indicating a warmer site than the other bottlings, but this wine possesses the highest natural acidity of all the wines in 2006. A lot of people will no doubt confuse this acidity with heat but rest assured this wine will just take time to absorb its 3.5 finished pH. The 2005 has followed a similar path. The acidity marks the wine from nose to middle to finish and I would recommend sitting on this one for a while. If you have a tolerance for backbone, this wine is enjoyable now balanced by a good bit of underlying sappiness.
2006 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast—163 cases, 13.9% alcohol, 57% new French oak. This wine reminds me of the 2004 version. It's what I think of when I think of true Sonoma Coast Pinot. The balance in this wine is what I keep coming back to when tasting it. The nose begins with a red/orange fruit combo (sour cherry/orange peel mainly), lavender and rose petals. On entry, the palate possesses a cola/sassafras quality that runs to the very end of the wine along with fresh mushrooms, cut hay, pine needles and a general wet earth/forest floor component. The finish for this edition of the wine is long and surprisingly approachable due largely to the extended hangtime in 2006.
2006 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast —62 cases, 13.7% alcohol, 100% new French oak. We are very happy to reintroduce this wine to the lineup (and anxiously await getting to the 2007). The wine begins with a soaring nose of spice box, cinnamon, rhubarb and red fruits. The old vine extract in this wine helps take it to deeper and broader dimensions of the similar profile it shares with the regular Summa bottling. This wine ventures into the land of palate texture deeper than any of our wines before it. The big acid dollop and new wood component comes to the forefront only to be beaten back by the concentration of fruit and general extract. This wine is a lot more forward than its 2004 edition but will still benefit from some air and should age gracefully for a decade plus.
2002 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir- 88 cases produced, 50% new French oak, 13.3% alc.
2002 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir- 44 cases produced, 100% new French oak, 14.4% alc.
2003 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir- 101 cases produced, 50% new French oak, 13.3% alc.
2003 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir- 44 cases produced, 100% new French oak, 13.8% alc.
2004 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir- 180 cases produced, 50% new French oak, 14.2% alc. This is a blend of two Occidental vineyards, Joya and Summa (first crop fruit from a block planted in 2002), blended in equal proportions. Joya is a slightly warmer site planted to 113 and Pommard clones. This wine is a bit more accessible than the Summa wines. Joya provides the power and Summa the finesse. There are elements of both red and black fruits in the wine and a lingering richness that showcases Joya's warmer nature. The nose is very floral and full of bright red fruits with an almost citrusy zest to it. The palate is much darker with plum, black currant, damp forest floor and pomegranate notes. The finish is firm with the coastal structure very apparent in the first glass.
2004 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir- 130 cases produced, 75% new French oak, 14.1% alc. This becomes a more serious wine every year. The '04 Summa Vineyard possesses notes of currant, lavender, forest floor, fresh mushrooms, red raspberries, blueberries and fig. The finish is dominated by a very Russian River/Sonoma Coast cola/sassafras quality which speaks of the clone (Swan) probably as much as the soil (goldridge loam). There is also a cut hay/pine needle quality to the finish that seems to be a trademark of cool climate Pinots.
2004 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir- 60 cases produced, 100% new French oak, 14.2% alc. By far the most backward wine we've produced, the 2004 Summa Old Vines has a strong spice box, violets/rose petal and wet stone like nose. Its structure and firm acidity easily absorb the new oak. The palate displays cola, cranberry, black cherry, forest floor, pine needle, crushed stones and plum notes. With a pH below 3.5, the wine will take a couple years in bottle to show all its richness and should lay down for a decade.
2005 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir- 140 cases produced, 67% new French oak, 14.2% alc. This is a little bit of a departure for us. Grown on the east side of Occidental and planted to Dijon clones 115, 667 and 777, our first ORV Pinot has a more black fruited core when compared to our previous wines. The aromas are darker as well: blackberries, cola, sassafras, forest floor. The wine has more purple hues compared to the Summa's electric red/black center. Before you begin thinking we've changed our style, the most intriguing thing about this wine might be its acid profile. The '05 Occidental Ridge is the lowest pH wine we made from the vintage (even lower than the Summa Old Vines) clocking in around 3.6. All the coastal brashness is there along with a good dollop of tannin and acidity to carry the finish. We are very pleased to have added Darla and Richard Radcliffe's Occidental Ridge Vineyard to the fold and look forward to continuing our relationship in the future.
2005 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir- 45 cases produced, 100% new French oak, 13.7% alc. This wine needs time. Every bottle we open takes a solid 3 hours to pop open. The wine is massive with all the coastal structure hiding the fruit at the moment. The nose makes the experience at present, pure Pinot aromatics. The wine remains true to Summa: red raspberries, red currants, orange peel, tea leaves, pine needles, wintergreen, cranberries and every other red fruit you can imagine. The wine is medium colored, a bit cloudy and ruby/garnet. Summa yielded .33 tons per acre in 2005.
2005 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir- 54 bottles produced, 1 new quarter barrel, 14.1% alc. We won't torture you with notes.