Coastal fog and ocean swept breezes preserve the freshness and character of this most expressive and transparent grape.
Comprised primarily of the Riddle Vineyard in the northeast corner of Occidental, this appellation bottling also always features small pieces of most of our single vineyard bottlings each year. The Sonoma Coast vineyards for our Chardonnay program are closer to each other than any other varietal we produce so this wine offers a magnified insight into our favorite neighborhood, the Occidental/Freestone corridor. For many years, we have aged this wine in 0% new oak to allow the sites contained within to express their character before any other influence kicks in.
2021 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This wine speaks very clearly to the common blending notion that the sum is better than any of its component parts. Comprised primarily of Riddle and Chouette Vineyards, the resulting wine knits together the best elements of each of the two vineyards. Where Riddle might have been a little lean on its own, Chouette lends generosity to the palate and a natural weight that speaks to the warmth of the site. Chouette veers toward the white chocolate/brioche side of Chardonnay but Riddle provides plenty of citrus fruits and minerals to add a crystalline texture for balance and cut. With 0% new oak for either of the two ferments, what you get here is a clean, focused snapshot of the Occidental/Freestone area of the Sonoma Coast in 2021. There’s a firmness to the vintage that provides volume and the promise of a long aging curve. Once again this wine way overdelivers when you compare its quality to its price.
2020 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
In 2020, we returned the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay to a combination of all vineyard sites we harvested. This included a new vineyard in the Occidental Ridge Vineyard neighborhood just east of Occidental called Chouette that we hope to make a consistent piece of this bottling for years to come. Chouette is planted 100% to the Montrachet clone of Chardonnay which has proven to be a good match with Riddle’s Wente clone vines. Where Riddle is citrus and mineral tinged, Chouette shows a little more weight and leans closer to brioche and stone fruits. The two combine to create a very complete Sonoma Coast bottling that is the most open knit of the 2020 lineup right now. Once again this wine was aged in 0% new oak, obtaining all of its richness and palate impression from site and vintage only.
0% new oak
2019 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Like its Pinot Noir counterpart, the 2019 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay comes entirely from Riddle Vineyard in Occidental. We purchase all the Chardonnay (and most of the Pinot) Jim Riddle grows at his 10 acre site. In the past, it has always needed a few barrels of the other vineyards to present a complete wine. Here the combination of vine maturity and clonal selection have elevated this wine to nearly the same level as the single vineyard wines in this mailer. Planted 100% to the Wente clone, Riddle produces tiny berries full of citrus, mineral and white pepper notes. It also produces wines with enormous amounts of dry extract giving this wine a very broad but dense mouth feel. The dry finish comes up in the form of chalk and mint with a little white peach and honeysuckle creeping in to round out the finish.
2018 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
2017 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This version of the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay contains pieces of all of the single vineyard wines plus Riddle Vineyard as its base. The racy character of the wine gives you an insight into the overall vintage character on the coast. Here the expression specifically is wet stones, lime blossom, green apple and a touch of honeysuckle on the finish. The wine is focused, pure and precise. With 0% new oak and no lees stirring, there’s nothing to get in the way of the fruit. The vintage helps make this our most successful appellation Chardonnay to date but also severely limited quantity. We expect this to go fast.
0% new oak
2016 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
The big difference between this vintage and previous offerings is the distinctive character of the Platt Vineyard. It adds a muscat-y exotic quality that probably has as much to do with the vintage as it does the site. All three vineyards in the blend are Wente clone but they couldn’t be more different. The Riddle Vineyard fruit adds a stony minerality to the more tropical tinged Lucky Well and the slightly foxy, tea scented Platt. A tough combination to knit together but here it works. The wine is heavily stone fruited on the palate with a tiny bit of reduction on the end adding gunpowder and white chocolate. As it sits open, it actually tightens up a bit, a good sign for future development.
10% new oak
The epitome of meticulous farming is what always comes to mind first when I think of Bearwallow. This deep end Anderson Valley site has been a part of our program since 2016 and we enjoy its different nature from all the tiny clustered Sonoma Coast vineyards that make up the majority of our program. This bottling always has a distinctive yellow fruited character complemented by a saline and roasted nut character. Our little 1.5 acre Wente clone block has matured into one of the unique coastal Chardonnays we taste every year.
2021 Rivers-Marie “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay Anderson Valley
In recent tastings it has become clear that both Bearwallow bottlings in 2021 (Chardonnay and Pinot) are the best Bearwallow bottlings to date. The only problem is, I have no idea why. We’ve always loved the site and the farming remains impeccable. Maybe it is vine age that contributes more depth and complexity moving the wine away from its banana candy/tropical fruit dominated palate to something more peachy and white flower dominated. There’s a slight reductive quality too that adds pear and almond paste with the slightest bit of spiciness lingering on the finish. This is a more multi-dimensional Bearwallow and hopefully something we can figure out soon so we can replicate it in future vintages.
2020 Rivers-Marie “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay Anderson Valley
This wine shows how well the Anderson Valley fared in 2020. There is a completeness here that helps it stand out in the lineup. Tasting this wine today, you wouldn’t know there was any trauma out there for this vintage. In the past, the Bearwallow Chardonnay bottlings have primarily featured a yellow-tinged, tropical banana quality that made them easy blind tasting targets when we would open an entire vintage to taste. The 2020 is a much more multi-dimensional wine leaning more to apple/pear and riding a nice middle ground of equal parts tropical and citrus. The acidity is what you notice first, preserved by the warm year, followed by an openness showcasing all those perfectly ripe fruit flavors.
2019 Rivers-Marie “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay Anderson Valley
This wine showcases just how great the 2019 vintage was on the north coast. The aromatic pop, sweet entry and kaleidoscopic finish highlight the completeness of wines from this year. All the normal yellow fruits are here plus a salty, mineral flecked nuance that we have never seen before. Pear, almond and lemon confit define the palate as the wine starts to unwind toward a waxy richness. Just like last year, there’s the slightest hint of reduction in the wine which manifests as white chocolate and matchstick. The tiny berries from this impeccably farmed site though produce a white that has structure and grip and will definitely need a year or two to unwind in the cellar.
2017 Rivers-Marie “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay Anderson Valley
It’s nice to see this stand out from the pack, mostly because it should. Our winemaking style has always produced site driven wines first and here we get a small assist from the vintage to complete the delineation. This might be the one bottling that has a little more give than its previous vintage version. It is once again yellow fruit focused with additional notes of hazelnut, white peach, guava and chamomile. A little bit of white chocolate emerges on the finish to give more roundness to the wine.
2016 Rivers-Marie “Bearwallow Vineyard” Chardonnay Anderson Valley
We are as excited about this first Chardonnay version of Bearwallow as we were its Pinot sibling last year. Not knowing what Anderson Valley Chardonnay was supposed to taste like only added to the intrigue as harvest 2016 approached. Coming from a sub-selection of the Wente clone, we had never seen such small berries. The resulting wine is very yellow fruit focused, following through with lemon oil, flint, apricot and pineapple. There’s a touch of brioche on the finish from the oak. As with all the other offerings, we do no lees stirring so the fruit here is precise and polished by acidity. If this is what Anderson Valley Chardonnay tastes like, we look forward to a very bright future.
25% new oak
Located in what has become the highest quality neighborhood on the Sonoma Coast, the Chardonnay here can occasionally be overlooked compared to its higher profile Pinot Noir companion. Don’t sleep on the white wine from here though, it can be just as thrilling as anything coming out of the Occidental/Freestone area. The laser focused acidity and abundance of citrus fruits makes this a mouthwatering experience every vintage. There’s only so much Chardonnay of this quality in the world and our 2-3 tons a year has taught us a lot about what’s possible to achieve in the world of great white wine.
2021 Rivers-Marie “Platt Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This has a finished pH of 3.17. I keep turning that number over in my mind wondering how that number impacts a wine this dense. The wine shows its natural acidity in its lemon curd mid-palate but then quickly veers into honeycomb, ripe orchard fruit, apple blossom and toasted bread. The pedigree of the site really shows through in its multi-faceted personality packing in orange peel, mint, white chocolate, chamomile and dried flowers on the finish. Platt’s reputation has been made through the years with its various Pinot bottlings but in 2021 at least, I’d argue the Chardonnay is the star of the vintage.
2020 Rivers-Marie “Platt Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Given the heat of the vintage, there’s not much botrytis to speak of in our two most coastal sites of Platt and Thieriot. That honeyed character I think is usually what separates Platt from the pack aromatically every year. Here the nose is much more spice focused with hints of mint, white pepper, chalk and chamomile. There are some white flower notes in there too which are quickly followed by a wave of high toned citrus fruits, lemon oil and tangerine zest being the most prominent. Like in all years, the natural acidity is what best balances the wine providing cut and focus for the very long, mouthwatering finish. There’s a tiny saline-tinged element at the very end that hints at the site’s proximity to the coast.
2019 Rivers-Marie “Platt Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This was my favorite Chardonnay from tank right before bottling in December. I thought it was a tick above the Thieriot in aromatic complexity and palate depth but I was also impressed with how much better this bottling has gotten every year. This is our third year in this block of Platt and that sounds about right for figuring out how best to make it. I can’t really think of the actual tweaks we’ve made but whatever they are, they work with this 2019. If I had to guess, I’d attribute it to the vineyard and one additional botrytis removal pass right before harvest. This edition comes across as a little more focused than 2017 or 2018 with more fruit and acidity allowed to shine through the minimized honey top note. It’s immediately apparent on the nose which jumps from the glass with saline, spicy apple, freshly baked bread and mint. Even with all this natural acidity, the palate is broad and generous with ripe orchard fruit, smoke, sage, chamomile and dried flowers. This is giving so much right now but with this level of acidity and concentration, it should go for 7-10 years in the cellar.
2018 Rivers-Marie Platt Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
No surprise this possesses more than a passing resemblance to Thieriot. Sea spray and crushed oyster shell always remind us of the most far flung Sonoma Coast sites, almost as if the fog that wraps itself around this area carries ocean mist to the grapes. The naturally low pH pushes the fruit to high-toned: lemon peel, nectarine and orchard fruits. There’s also a savory quality that adds complexity and depth, tea leaves and mint accentuated by salted butter. Coiled tight for now, all the potential resides in the mid-palate where the acidity provides a cool freshness that’s both mouthwatering and luscious.
2017 Rivers-Marie “Platt Vineyard”Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Whereas Purrington Rued was a bit of an unknown to us, we knew to expect great things from Platt. After a less than stellar 2016, we now feel that we have captured all the greatness of this site. Perched near the top of the range in Freestone, this 1.5 acre block of Wente clone Chardonnay came in just above 2.5 tons an acre in 2017. The initial pressed pH of 3 is the lowest we have ever seen at Rivers-Marie. This site is cooler than even Thieriot and that comes through in the character of the wine from its initial, bracing acidity to the long lemon oil dominated finish. Sandwiched in between this are notes of poached pear, honeysuckle, white pepper, white peach and pineapple. There’s a mild honeyed note that arches over the wine due to a little botrytis in 2017. The acidity is what you always come back to though, focusing the wine and prolonging the finish for a minute plus.
Purrington Rued Vineyard
This has to be the most distinctive Chardonnay site I have ever encountered. We struggle sometimes to accurately describe it and still make it sound like Chardonnay. From vines planted in 1969 and from the birthplace of the Rued clone, you could talk yourself into believing this was more Alsatian than Burgundian. Salted and candied tropical fruits dominate the aromatic and palate before all the old vine weight and acidity comes in to restore a sense of place and varietal. We hope to work with this ancient block for many more years but for now we are just enjoying the exotic experience.
2021 Rivers-Marie “Purrington Rued Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
I’ve never tasted anything quite like this from California. The Rued clone is known to produce unique Chardonnays but this is even more complex than past vintages. The Alsatian like tropical notes are there but the wine is even more dominated by lychee, salted pineapple and honeyed flowers. The acidity has never been this bright before grabbing the tannin of the vintage to add a firm, chiseled cut throughout the entire palate. Past vintages have started out a bit muted but here everything is amplified even the vibrant, pressed flower character that wraps up the finish. We seem to be stuck on 4 barrels from our tiny sliver of this old vine Sonoma Coast vineyard but if this is what it produces, we are grateful for every vintage.
2020 Rivers-Marie “Purrington Rued Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
In looking to expand our Chardonnay production, we doubled our footprint in this 50+ year old Sonoma Coast site. Given the vintage though, we made a little less 2020 than we did in 2019. Try as we may, we can’t seem to make more than 4 barrels of Purrington Rued. This wine right now I’d call medium expressive. When we sat down to taste all the Chardonnays post-bottling, this was somewhere in the middle as to what you’d expect from the vineyard site. Like Platt and Thieriot, this wine seems to be a little inward leaning and more vertically built in 2020. There are some nice exotic fruit notes on the palate and nose which indicate clone but there are also mineral/savory elements of lemon oil, slate, sage, chalk and mint. The combination of yield and vine age has built an incredibly packed Chardonnay from Purrington Rued in 2020, one that feels like it may need a couple years to unwind.
2019 Rivers-Marie “Purrington Rued Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
You can talk about what wine is objectively best but that’s not always what you personally prefer or want to drink at a given time. For me, I can debate the merits of the various wines in this release but what I want to drink is the Purrington Rued. I love the uniqueness of this bottling, there’s nothing else that tastes like it. I’m still a little shocked we have the ability to source from this 50+ year old vineyard located in the heart of what’s known as Dutton Valley. There’s not much like this anywhere on the Sonoma Coast when you consider its age, location and farming pedigree. I keep wanting to call this tropical but that’s not quite right. If there is an exotic fruit note it’s candied, salted pineapple but there’s also dried white flowers, apricot, jasmine, fresh sage and orange blossom. Here the vine age contributes an incredible amount of palate weight without the slightest hint of heaviness.
2018 Rivers-Marie “Purrington Rued Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
The exoticness of this site continues to amaze us. It starts with notes of candied ginger, apricot compote, nectarines and lychee. Like the 2017, it has Alsatian overtones that don’t immediately scream Chardonnay. That comes in later with a dense textural impact and a swerve toward lemony, citrus notes. This wine is a combination of so many things we strive for in our winemaking: site, clonal and vintage expression here coupled with vine age. These vines are 50 years old which allows us to do very little in the vineyard and cellar to make what we think is the best version of this site. Only vine age can do that with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We touched on our future jealousy a bit in the last Pinot mailer, how the next generation will find working with 40, 50, 60 year old sites commonplace. Here we get a little glimpse into that future.
2017 Rivers-Marie “Purrington Rued Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
We are incredibly excited to add this site to the line up. When Ulises Valdez first showed us this newly leased piece, we thought we’d grab some for our Sonoma Coast bottling. After fermentation and a small dig into the history of the site, we knew this four barrel lot was destined for vineyard designation. Planted in 1969, the vine age is immediately apparent on the palate of the wine. There’s impact but it is subtle. At 50 years old, the wine is now more about the site than the clone. Rued clone Chardonnays are usually more tropical than this but here the expression is unique to the wine’s location. Apricots, almonds, nectarine, brioche and tangerines dominate a palate that at times takes an almost Alsatian turn in character. Like the other wines in the line up, there’s no mistaking this for any other site once you have some experience with it. Unfortunately the four barrel won't go far but we hope to make a little more in the future (2018 is a whopping 6 barrels) and keep this around as a permanent part of the line up.
Joy Road Vineyard
It has been a pleasure to work alongside the legendary winemaker Terry Adams at his home estate on the western Sonoma Coast. Though this little wedge of Chardonnay vineyard is tiny, the wines from here have been mighty and have slowly revealed themselves as our best aging Chardonnay in the lineup. The character here has veered in many different directions but over the last few years it has settled into a citrus leaning, mineral flecked wine that has a slight honeyed floral kick at the end.
2021 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
We never know what we are going to get with this tiny block of Chardonnay from Joy Road. The wine has veered from an almost Sauvignon Blanc like steeliness to a slightly botrysized warmer-sited white Burgundy in the 10 or so years we’ve worked with it. In the past few though, we are finally seeing the real character of what this site best represents, a true west Sonoma Coast site focused on a wide mix of fruit characters provided by the site and the clone. Its location leans naturally toward the citrus/yuzu side of the varietal while the clone provides richer fruit flavors of peach, pineapple, mango and a light, floral lift. It’s very unique in the line up and like Purrington Rued, tastes unlike anything else I’ve had from the area. It finishes with a chalky, white chocolate note that helps balance the acidity of the site.
2020 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Joy Road feels like it is becoming more and more consistent every year. It’s been hard to pin down the vineyard signature over the 7 or so years we have sourced fruit from this tiny parcel west of Occidental. In 2020, it is pretty exuberant reflecting the overarching vintage characteristic. All the fruit notes here lean to tropical but with bracing acidity to give the wine balance and present the wine more as exotic than overblown. This, like the Sonoma Coast, is very open right now, unusual for Joy Road. Maybe we finally picked this in its sweet spot, no doubt aided by the dueling factors of a warm year with a small crop and a site well situated to survive those vintage conditions. The fruit profile contains guava, ripe peaches, tangerine, salted pineapple but all buffered by a lemon zest/brulee undercurrent that helps to pull out and prolong the finish. There’s also a nice textural component on the finish that provides just enough scratchiness to add complexity. With only 4 barrels produced, we didn’t have a lot of options for new oak so we went with one new Louis Latour barrel that also helps with the citrus/mineral side of Chardonnay’s expression.
2019 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This site is always a bit of a chameleon. It seems to shift to whatever the overarching vintage characteristic is in a given year. We’ve seen this wine go from fat to firm to almost Sauvignon Blanc in style during the racy year of 2014. The last few years however it appears to have finally developed its own personality. It contains all the best palate traits of the three other single vineyard Sonoma Coast wines in this release, the medium ripe tropical fruit notes of Purrington Rued, the sea spray of Thieriot and the honey tinged citrus of Platt. The nose is a touch reticent at first but with air turns to wet stones, lime blossom and gunpowder. Tightly coiled and inward leaning, the palate follows suit with more savory notes complemented by tangerine, honeysuckle and white peach. Going back and tasting the first few vintages of this wine also shows this might be the best aging site in the lineup.
2018 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
I’m a little stunned by how complete this wine is only six weeks removed from bottling. There have always been holes in previous editions that time helped fill, no need here. The nose grabs you immediately with a broad spectrum of citrus notes most notably kaffir lime and lemon rind with just a touch of reduction to make the aromatics linger. This is a true coast site so the first palate perception is a framing acidity that brings forward chalk, menthol, lanolin, almonds and lemon oil. Though the 3.27 finished pH wouldn’t suggest it, there is some give to the wine in the way of salted butter, white flowers and a yellow fruited confit.
2017 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
We love the uniqueness of the wines from this Terry Adams owned site in Occidental. No two vintages have been the same in our brief history here. This wine strikes a middle ground stylistically compared to previous years. It is not quite as fat and viscous as the 2015 or lean and flinty as the 2016. It also possesses a little more varietal character than those two previous vintages. There’s a chalkiness that is distinctly Chardonnay but not necessarily California Chardonnay. It is more Chablis like in its racy finish and smoke and beeswax palate notes. The focus of the overall wine is what I keep coming back to though, there’s a precision here that Joy Road has never possessed before.
2016 Rivers-Marie “Joy Road Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This starts out with an almost Sauvignon Blanc-like flintiness. Most of the character of the wine currently centers around texture. Unlike last year, this wine holds plenty in reserve with a bright, green fruited mid palate and firm acidity from start to finish. This has proven to be an interesting vineyard for us in the sense that no two vintages have tasted the same. Granted the sample size isn’t huge, but it has been an interesting ride from a winemaking perspective watching and waiting to see what comes of each year. We are a big fan of this year due to its raciness and lean, slightly reductive coastal character.
25% new oak
B. Thieriot Vineyard
Our flagship and what launched our Chardonnay program in 2007, we coveted this small Robert Young clone block since our first vintage at Summa in 2002. We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the wines from this vineyard but we do have the greatest handle on the nature of the wine produced here each year. Lemon zest, sea spray, brioche, white flowers, orchard fruit and citrus blossom pop up in every vintage. The acidity helps to focus and frame the finish with just the slightest hint of oak at the end adding roundness. A true grand cru site on the far western edge of the Sonoma Coast.
2021 Rivers-Marie “B. Thieriot Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
We finally coaxed this wine to full malo in mid-October. Long malolactic years tend to produce wines of great length and texture and in this case, suppleness. Stone and orchard fruit notes dominate the palate veering from pear to apple to nectarine but balanced by the classic salty minerality of Thieriot. The acidity provides a honeyed lemon character that complements the flint and white flower finish. An ethereal, “old vines” quality continues to dominate the wine in 2021. There is amazing palate presence but it never comes across as taxing. Freshness is probably the first thing we look for in our Pinots and Chardonnays and this wine always has that mouthwatering acidity that demands multiple sips. Thieriot started our Chardonnay program 15 vintages ago and we continue to see better and better wines coming from this special site in the future.
2020 Rivers-Marie “B. Thieriot Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
If I gave a slight nod to Platt in 2019, I’d say Thieriot has once again taken its place as the crown jewel of our Chardonnay lineup in 2020. It’s a more inward focused edition right now but with some coaxing all the salty minerality begins to emerge along with orchard and stone fruits, lemon curd, honeycomb and white flowers. Being a low botrytis year out on the coast, there’s more of the sea spray/oyster shell quality creeping in on the finish with citrus blossom, mint and chamomile creating an intense inner mouth perfume. The completeness of the wine is what probably most sets it apart from the other wines, no easy feat in 2020, and a testament to the greatness of this site.
2019 Rivers-Marie “B. Thieriot Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
I’m not sure how much better this wine can get. We’ve been out here since 2007 and have seen this improve every year we’ve worked with it. The green/gold complexion as always is there suggesting a wine with a long life ahead of it. The site character has become very well defined on the palate: lemon zest, sea spray, brioche, white flowers, orchard fruit and citrus blossom. The completeness of the wine is hard to fathom sometimes. If California ever adopted a vineyard classification system, I have no doubt this site would be in the top tier for Chardonnay.
2018 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
There’s not much more to say about wines from this property. The consistency of the site provides such great raw material every year. This version has all the lemony goodness and mouthwatering acidity you expect from Thieriot with complimentary notes of white peach, candied pineapple, pear and honeysuckle. With zero noticeable oak, the excellence of the vineyard shines through showcasing both a great growing season and the precise farming of Ulises Valdez Jr. and his crew.
2017 Rivers-Marie “B. Thieriot Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
This special site right across the street from Summa proves more interesting to us every year even as we begin to run out of original things to say about it. We’d attribute that to better farming but also to vine age. Planted in 1990, we have begun to see “old vines” qualities come out in this wine the last several years. Consistency is probably the most valued attribute as this vineyard has weathered the droughts, deluges and heat of the last several years. Through it all, the wines produced from here continue to show site character first and vintage character second. There is an amazing palate presence in this wine but it never comes across as taxing. Freshness is probably the first thing we look for in our Pinots and Chardonnays and this wine always has that mouthwatering acidity that keeps the wine lively. The Thieriot has a crushed rock minerality that separates it from all the other wines in the line up. Its proximity to the coast also provides saline and oyster shell notes that are more aligned with grand cru Chablis than California Chardonnay. The complexity here increases every year and we are thankful that this special site has been the cornerstone of the Rivers-Marie Chardonnay program now for over 10 years.
2016 Rivers-Marie “B. Thieriot Vineyard” Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
It is nice to return to a normal quantity of this wine not only so we have something to sell but also so we have some to drink. This special site right across the street from Summa proves more interesting to us every year. We’d attribute that to better farming but also to vine age. Planted in 1990, we have begun to see “old vines” qualities come out in this wine the last several years. Consistency is probably the most valued attribute as this vineyard has weathered the droughts, deluges and heat of the last 5 years. Through it all, the wines produced from here continue to show site character first and vintage character second. The other quality we enjoy is one we mention frequently when talking about the Summa Old Vines bottling, weightiness without heaviness. There is an amazing palate presence in this wine but it never comes across as taxing. Freshness is probably the first thing we look for in our Pinots and Chardonnays and this wine always has that mouthwatering acidity that allows for multiple sips (or glasses or bottles). Given the proximity to the ocean, the Thieriot has a flavor note we refer to as sea spray complemented by citrus oil, crushed rock, honeysuckle and nectarine.
35% new oak
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