View all vintages of Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon from unique vineyards from within one of the world's premier growing regions.

From a single Napa appellation bottling in 2002, the Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon program has grown into a single-vineyard program that includes Panek Vineyard (St. Helena, 2009), Lore Vineyard (Oakville, 2013) & Larkmead / Calistoga (Calistoga, 2012).
450 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

This is made up of clones 4 and 337 from Panek, our small portion of Pellet Vineyard in St. Helena, one small block from Lore, a couple barrels of Larkmead and two blocks from Kennedy Vineyard in Calistoga.  Once again, this will give everyone a good sense of the character of the 2015 vintage.  I don’t think there has ever been a year where pieces of every single vineyard bottling were present in the Napa blend.  Fruit and color concentration are the first two things that jump out.  The balancing element here is the savory note on the nose.  Walnut husks, smoke and creosote sit on top of the fruit cutting into any potential jamminess that might be present in a warm year.  The palate is mostly darker fruits with a nice underlying acidity provided I’m guessing by the Panek and Larkmead components in the wine.  A slight herbal touch comes up in the finish with little bits of sweet tobacco, sage and menthol.  This drinks way above its price point and may end up being the best QPR Cabernet we have ever released.

362 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

Once again this holds the most in reserve across all the bottlings.  There’s a floral note that gives the wine an initial prettiness that transcends the vintage.  The gloves come off after that initial note though as the wine veers toward densely packed black fruit.  Crème de cassis, grilled bread, graphite and river rock spring from the glass to balance the fruit.  For all the talk about fruit concentration in this vintage, it is nice to see more earthy, varietally driven traits driving the balance on this wine.  This is to be expected given its source.  It almost has an old world quality to the aromatic given all the savory-ness.  The lifted aromatic accompanied by the fruit density gives the wine a refreshing feel that provides both satisfying density and the desire to take another sip.  As Calistogans ourselves, it has always given us great pleasure to offer such a solid wine from our hometown AVA.

325 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5% alcohol per volume

Once we get into the single vineyard category, everything amplifies.  The farming at Panek continues to improve every year as we become more and more familiar with the individual blocks.  This is predominately clones 169 and 7 from the rockiest section of the vineyard.  The fruit profile here is purple/black with some sweet notes of brown sugar, blackberries and caramelized brown sugar.  The structure in this bottling has gotten a little more intense every year as the vineyard matures.  The acidity has always been the balancing element in this wine but now there’s ample tannin to provide backbone and grip to the finish.  There’s also now a wet stone/crushed rock component to complement the generous, valley floor fruit profile.  Savory notes of camphor, licorice and charcoal help complete the finish making this the most complete Panek we’ve made to date.

200 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Lore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5% alcohol per volume

This is always the hardest wine to describe because I can never figure out what not to say about it.  At first sniff, it covers the entire fruit spectrum veering from red to purple to black.  There is a dried herb/crushed rock combo that screams Oakville Cabernet on the nose.  Because of the structure, this too has a lightness to the front of the palate that belies the density of the finish.  The palate feels almost ethereal until the densely packed purple fruits come in on the finish to remind you of the origin of the wine. 

207 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Lore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

Leasing this A+ site has allowed us to improve the quality of the Lore bottling every year.  This vintage is so kaleidoscopic I’m having some trouble figuring out where to start with the description.  The nose covers the entire fruit spectrum veering from red to purple to black accented by varietal and barrel notes of charcoal, smoke and sweet tobacco.  The palate is dense and carries a near perfect balance between black/purple fruits, acidity and tannin.  There’s a thick, mouth coating quality to the wine that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced with one of our Cabernets before.  The finish is more fruit focused than the savory tannic wallop of the 2013 and that I’d attribute to vintage for sure but also to a healthier, more balanced crop.  The farming here has focused on bringing up the level of the more challenged pieces of the vineyard and that more narrow band of properly ripened fruit has increased the focus and complexity of the finished wine.

350 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.4% alcohol per volume

This wine got so much darker in barrel.  Every time we came back to these Panek blocks in the cellar, everything had intensified.  The color isn’t much off the 2013 and the wine is just as generous.  Tannin here is cut by the acidity of the 2014 so structure is not the first thing you notice in this Panek.  The fruit on the palate is predominately black (probably a sign of vine age) which gives it a seriousness some of the first vintages didn’t have.  There’s a savory note to this wine too that gives it added complexity.  This note used to take some time in bottle to come out (09 and 10 showing it nicely right now) but it’s been present in the 2014 since our first barrel tasting.  It’s more of a creosote/charcoal quality than anything herbal.  The Panek once again will be the most accessible of all the single vineyard designates but if history is any indication, it will get considerably more complex with time.

183 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Corona Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5% alcohol per volume

This will be the last vintage of Corona for us and I have to admit the 2014 makes me very sad to see it go.  There’s always something so exotic about the nose on this wine.  Oddly enough I’d describe it as grapefruit rind and in the 2014 it is evident just enough to give the wine a fresh sensation.  The tannins aren’t quite as intense as in 2013 so there’s more of an immediate fruit impact to go with the structure of the Oakville hillside.  Again the balance is what you notice.  The palate features cloves, dark black fruits, iron ore and tobacco.  The fruit sweetness of the vintage makes this approachable now but the site definitely suggests it will age for a long time; something to drink while the 2013 slowly unfolds.

146 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

This wine is all about concentrated black fruits.  The fruit so dominates the palate that it takes several minutes in glass to see the savory notes we loved in 2012 and 2013 come up in the wine.  Crushed rock, walnut skin and some savory herbs give this its mild Bordelaise character and help separate it from everything else in the lineup.  It’s still arguably the most unformed of all the wines in this offering but given the pedigree of the site and the wines made from this site in years past, we have faith this will blossom into something spectacular in the next few months.  We noticed a similar slow evolution in the 2013.  A bottle opened last week finally tasted as it had in barrel just before bottling.  This edition also holds a lot in reserve right now.

200 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

This is made up of the clone 4 block from Panek, our again, the Lore provides the power and the Panek provides the fruit.  The fruit is a little more evident in this wine than its 2013 counterpart due mostly to the generosity of the vintage.  The balance here is what defines the wine, fruit cut by acidity and tannin giving the wine just enough structure to drink well now but improve through the years.  This balance is what we mentioned in the intro as the hallmark small portion of Pellet Vineyard in St. Helena, one small block from Lore and two blocks from Kennedy Vineyard in Calistoga.  Given the vineyard mix, this gives a nice snapshot of upvalley Cabernet in 2014.  Once of the vintage and the primary reason we like this year so much.

250 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Lore Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

This is the most exciting new source for Rivers-Marie in a long time.  Marc and Carolyn Lore’s 2-acre vineyard sits in arguably the most prestigious Cabernet neighborhood in Napa Valley.  We are fortunate to now be leasing this site for Rivers-Marie which not only gains us access to such a great spot but also allows us to completely control the farming.  This is such a substantial wine it’s almost more about texture than flavor.  It’s super broad and deep and covers and saturates the palate in a very complete way.  There’s a crystalline minerality to the wine that gives it further density but also gives it defined dimension and focus.  As Antonio Galloni noted in Vinous Media, he believes this is one of the best Cabernets I’ve ever made all clients included.  We’d be happy to put this up against anything coming out of Napa in the 2013 vintage.

400 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.4% alcohol per volume

Not surprisingly this has recovered the quickest from bottling.  The generosity of the site is always there but we think the Panek wines are more complete in structured vintages like 2009 and this edition certainly bears that out.  With 2010-2012 we saw a wine balanced solely by acidity but with the addition of some firm tannin, the wine feels more substantial and certainly offers a larger drinking window.  There’s a small herbal note that contributes more complexity and a little pomegranate to add a higher-toned fruit quality.  The tannins are a little dusty which adds texture and density.  This is the most complex Panek out of the gate and also potentially the most long-lived.  Cool blue fruits and a little mint/wintergreen help round out the finish.

245 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Corona Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

This once again is the most structured wine in the lineup.  If there was a concern about the vintage as wines went to barrel in the fall of 2013, it was how well did we manage tannin in our hillside sites.  We knew it was a structured vintage from the beginning so quantity of tannin wasn’t the question it was more a question of quality.  The heat of the year further complicated the issue of determining true ripeness.  Knowing if the right pick decision had been made fleshes out over time.  Tasting this wine now, the one characteristic of it that speaks to the quality of the tannin is whether the grip interrupts the finish.  In this case it doesn’t hopefully due to us knowing what we are doing but also due to the generosity of fruit in 2013.  This is an effusive version of Corona with an almost jammy black fruit profile that is complemented by the usual savory elements of smoke, iron, creosote and black olives.  Generosity here certainly doesn’t equal approachable and I would recommend sitting on this wine for a few years before cracking the first one

150 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

Though 2012 and 2013 aren’t that far apart in quality, we feel this is a big step up from its previous edition.  Part of it is having an additional year of experience with the vineyard and part of it is just how well this site performed in this vintage.  This is our one wine with a potential perfect Parker score hanging in the balance and I can see why now tasting it two months removed from bottling.  It’s the most exotic of the lineup with a very lifted aromatic and an ethereal feel to the palate that has both a firm density and a lightness from the super fine grained tannin.  This is like a more accessible version of Corona with a nice blend of fruit and savory but a lot more generosity owing to its location.  The aromatic is almost more Bordeaux like with an emphasis on walnut skins, creosote and graphite but the fruit profile is very Californian with a black-fruited profile that comes as much from the vintage as the site.

250 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

This is made up of the clone 4 block from Panek, our small portion of Pellet Vineyard in St. Helena and two blocks from Lore that didn’t make the vineyard designate cut.  It’s the Lore in the wine that gives it weight and a little more of a purple-fruited character than years past.  The valley floor and hillside characteristics are just beginning to knit together in this wine as it is a bit more structure than fruit right now.  The St. Helena component contributes a higher-toned fruit quality with a nice minty, varietally correct undertone.  Oakville adds power in the form of blackberry, iron, crushed rock and walnut skin.  We actually had a hard time figuring out what to declassify from this vintage making for a very strong Napa bottling in 2013.

250 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.4% alcohol per volume

The texture is what I like most about this wine.  2012 marks the first vintage where I’ve gotten an incredibly broad, layered mid-palate out of Panek so early.  Like the other offerings, it’s a bit more serious then in years past.  Shooting for the 250 case mark, we had plenty of raw material to work with so we were able to thoughtfully take our time in putting this together. We laid out every barrel and tasted through multiple times looking for only the best and most complimentary.  It’s the most complete showing for a Panek upon release with a fullness from front to back that highlights the greatness of the vintage. 

 

200 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Roberto Corona Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

There hasn’t been much talk about the differentiating factors in the vintage.  Without a lot of consumer/professional experience with finished 2012’s, most of the talk lumps all of Napa together into one tightly packed band.  We would proffer that the hills were a touch better overall then the valley floor.  The potential for concentration was higher from the beginning given smaller berry size and thicker skins.  There’s also a nice savory feature to the Corona that balances all of the abundant fruit of the ’12 vintage.  The hallmark minerality is once again front and center, but also smoke, creosote and crushed rock add to the blackberry/blueberry fruit profile of the wine.  A hint of anise creeps in on the finish to further balance the abundant juiciness of the vintage.  This as always will be the one to age from the lineup.  We are seeing the ’09 just now begin to shed some of its youthful tannin and it looks like this wine has the potential to be even bigger.

200 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

We are very excited to offer an AVA bottling from our hometown of Calistoga.  Coming from a single block from the Larkmead estate, this marks the beginning of what we hope will be a long relationship with this historic property.  Our small parcel is planted to the Olmo clone in pure Cortina (deep, well drained) soil.  Given its northern Napa Valley location, we assumed pre-harvest that the wine would be all about ripe, obvious fruit.  In tank, in barrel and now in bottle, it turns out the site is more about layered nuance and balance.  It’s very well delineated and features the most freshness.  The bigger wines are always about depth and broaden with time in bottle. This wine and its ’13 counterpart resting in barrel already have broad complexity that makes them a bit more intellectually interesting then most other Cabernets out there.  It’s more to contemplate then something to admire for its sheer power.  The fruit profile is a nice mix of red and black fruits balanced by cooking spices, smoke, wet stones and white pepper.  We’ve been excited about this wine since we signed the grape contract and now are thrilled to finally offer it to you.

350 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

This is made up entirely of the Clone 4 block from Panek and our small portion of the Pellet Vineyard in St. Helena.  When all the lots were first in barrel, we weren’t even sure there would be a Napa Valley bottling for the year. Everything was so strong it felt like the year would be 100% single vineyard - but even in the best years there is always a pecking order.  We were patient, allowing the wines to develop naturally and reserving judgment until early spring of this year.  What we created after blending all the wines is what we feel is our best Napa Valley to date.  It’s more black fruited than in years past featuring more classic, concentrated Napa elements of blackberry, plum, cassis and creosote.  Both vineyards are valley floor so it has a juicy fruit driven core that makes it approachable while the offsetting acidity frames and focuses the mid-palate and draws out the finish.

150 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.4% alcohol per volume

We isolated the best barrels from Panek early on and it came as no surprise they originated from two clones picked before the rains (169, 7) and the rockiest, steepest spot out there, the clone 6 knoll.  It has a nice mix of red and black fruits and features the caramelized brown sugar/maple syrup generosity that really set the 2009 apart.  There’s a minerality to it that provides balance and some firming on the finish.  The crop here averaged 1.5 tons per acre at set which adds some nice concentration to the mid-palate.  This site has been a real find for us and we’ve enjoyed working hard to make this bottling better every year.

525 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

This 21 barrel blend is comprised of all of the Corona and Pellet, all of the Panek clone 4 and select barrels of the clone 6.  Pellet is a new piece for us that sits in the same neighborhood as Las Piedras, Bressler, Bourn and Hayne Vineyards to the west of the town of St. Helena.  It’s become quite the high quality neighborhood.  As with most first efforts we included it in the appellation blend as we begin the process of understanding how to best vinify it.  Its addition brings the AVA blend of the Napa to roughly 50/50 St. Helena and Oakville.  That makes for a nice mix of flesh and power in the wine.  There’s a brightness to the red fruited character of the vintage that gives the wine freshness and vibrancy.  It has a nice mix of savory and fruit driven elements that gives it a more classic California Cab quality.  It feels like an earlier drinker than in years past but the great balance in the wine should help it rest comfortably for a decade or more.

125 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.4% alcohol per volume

We saw a more uniform goodness across all clones in Panek for 2010.  All four selections we harvested are represented in the blend.  Part of it we chalk up to vine maturity but I also think we have a better understanding of how to farm this site.  This is a naturally low tannin site so the 2009 and 2010 wines are pretty similar.  The acidity of the vintage cuts through some of the brown sugar/maple syrup quality of the previous year and gives a cleaner, less cloying wine.  There’s a nice baker’s chocolate opening to the wine surrounded by more soil driven characteristics of wet stones and white flowers.  The finish is a bit more structured than last year due mainly to the power and concentration of the clone 6 addition.

125 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Roberto Corona Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5% alcohol per volume

Everything about this wine is a touch better than its 2009 edition.  All the wildness of that wine is reigned in and focused a bit more in 2010.  There’s better oak integration, riper tannin (still abundant though) and a nice mineral driven site character that makes the wine obviously Oakville.  We always talk about the AVA’s great mix of fruit and power and it’s on full display here.  The nose is brooding and very black fruited but the acidity adds some higher toned notes of citrus peel and violets.  After some time in the decanter, the palate becomes very plush and is driven more by texture than pure fruit or weight.  The vineyard is planted next to an old pea gravel quarry and you can sense this location in the wine.  There’s a nice crushed rock element that comes on near the finish that gives the wine a bit more intellectual interest and length.  This again though is the bottling for the cellar so let it rest or give it several hours in a decanter.

195 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

This reminds me a lot of the 2008 Napa.  A little less opaque than the 2009, it features a nice balance of fruit and savory elements.  The nose is heavy blue fruits balanced by a little sweet tobacco and creosote.  The acidity cuts through any oak impact that might have been there and helps to pull through some higher-toned red and black fruits on the palate.  The wine is incredibly well focused while still packing in most every intrinsic Cabernet quality available.  Last year we said this was more mid-pack in terms of structure order across the offerings but in 2010, this drinks more like the starting point.

150 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.6% alcohol per volume

Our part of the Panek site is a 2.5 acre parcel just north of Turley Winery and just south of Aida Vineyard in St Helena.  It’s old riverbed ground so it drains well with a strong streak of gravel shot through the black, loamy soil.  The 2009 bottling consists of equal parts clones 6 and 7.  This is the most classic of our three wines in this release.  The pure fruit driven nose consists of sweet tobacco, purple fruits, white flowers and blackcurrants.  The clone 7 component in the wine definitely adds this fruit sweetness which is in turn buffered by the more structured, higher acid, soil driven elements of the 6.  Clone 6 on the valley floor can act a bit like a hillside addition with its tiny berries and thick skins and in this wine it makes for an interesting texture.  The mineral notes that frame the finish give the wine length with just enough apparent acidity to add freshness.

150 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Roberto Corona Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

14.2% alcohol per volume

We thought this would be bottled separately in 2008 but now seeing the quality of the 2009, I’m glad we waited.  This is the single vineyard Cabernet we’ve been waiting to launch our program around.  Located off of Oakville Grade in the western hills of Oakville, the vineyard sits at the base of an old pea gravel quarry.  The first time I smelled the wine it reminded me of a modern Martha’s Vineyard with elements of menthol and eucalyptus layered into a rich, black-fruited core.  The site contributes white flower and minerally notes which balance the richness and give the wine some muscle.  The most structured of the three wines, this will go a while in the cellar but the balance (and if you like raw power) makes this enjoyable now with a substantial decant.  We feel privileged to be working with such a great site in this prestigious neighborhood.

305 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.5% alcohol per volume

The 12 barrel blend this year is 25% Oakville, 42% St Helena and 33% Spring Mountain from the Baconbrook Vineyard.  The Spring Mountain component definitely helps the wine standout in the lineup giving it a more brooding, black-fruited quality that dominates the nose and palate entry.  Elements of cassis, creosote, blackberries and menthol dominate the wine early with a sweeter fruited valley floor flavor profile taking over on the mid-palate and finish.  The good early grip is replaced by racy high-toned red fruits which give the wine freshness and help prolong the finish.  This wine might actually have the greatest complexity of the three right now due to the blend.  It does also have some structure which will require some cellaring to absorb.

225 Cases

2008 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

14.5% alcohol per volume

The 2008 Rivers-Marie Cab is, in its early stages, driven by texture. Less opaque in the glass than the '07, the '08 begins with aromas of fully ripe raspberry and blueberry and is followed shortly with notes of sandalwood and pencil shavings. With air, the red-blue fruit notes dominate the nose. On the palate, the wine possesses a weighty entry and is already generous and expansive. This broadness is what we’ve come to like so much about the vintage.  The mid-palate tannin sweetness is the real payoff before a textured finish of cocoa and graphite. Ultimately, this wine is really about the typicity of Cabernet.

400 Cases

2007 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.3% alcohol per volume

This wine has always been highly aromatic. Starting out with a nose of violets, wet rock and cassis, the entry takes on a richness that betrays its two hillside sources. There’s brightness to the black fruited quality that pushes the perception of the fruit to the red/blue end of the spectrum until the tannin hits. As with all hillside sites, the tannin is there it’s just a matter of managing the quality of it that sets the wine apart. The structure here takes on a fine-grained sweetness and if it deviates from a fruit focus it moves more toward the varietally correct notes of creosote, charcoal and graphite with loamy, minerally tones creeping in. Time in the decanter definitely helps to prolong the finish and mellow out some of the mountain tannin.

295 Cases

2006 Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.7% alcohol per volume

I liked this wine from day one. A large part of that stems from my love of the vintage. The great California vintages possess ample quantities of fruit balanced generally by tannin (2002) or nice, firm acidity (1996). 2006 has all the fresh fruit of a great year balanced nicely by both tannin and acidity. I can smell the wine as it sits a couple feet away from me on the desk. Saturated black-ruby with a nose of cassis, sandalwood, white flowers and crushed rock. The classic Cabernet taste components come up quickly: blackcurrants, more cassis, lavender, sweet tobacco, blackberries, blueberry, espresso and licorice. The finish is interrupted a bit by structure until the acidity cuts in framing and lengthening the backend. This wine drinks well earlier than either the 2003 or 2004 but is certainly in no danger of fading for at least a decade.

120 Cases

2004 Rivers Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.7% alcohol per volume

Sometimes there are years in the extreme hills that are perfectly suited to balancing the ruggedness of the wines traditionally produced there.  2004 with its brutal heat in late August turned out to be one of those years.  Everything about this wine is a bit sweeter and rounder than its 2003 counterpart.  More of a saturated matte black color, the nose is pure bittersweet chocolate with waves of cassis.  The palate moves to big Howell Mountain spice, espresso roast, toasted bread, Asian spice and black fruits.  There is no shortage of tannin in this wine, it is just a bit riper and sweeter than more traditional vintages.  Again, patience in the decanter is the key to realizing the full potential of the wine.

50 Cases

2003 Rivers Marie Cabernet Sauvignon

14.9% alcohol per volume

Due to the coolness of the vintage, this wine carries with it a bit more acidity than the 2004.  Its saturated black hue has an electric quality to it.  Notes of creosote, wet stones, white flowers and smoky cassis precede a palate of menthol, sweet tobacco leaf, melted licorice and blackberries.  As the wine sits in glass, it turns to baker's chocolate, melted fudge and dried herbs.  The tannins are a bit steely revealing its origin as a hillside wine.  Though it has been in bottle 14 months, we still decant this wine in the morning for service with dinner.  Hillside wines in 2003 have an unctuosity that develops with air making them candidates for a long nap in the cellar.