View all vintages of Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir

Single vineyard & appellation wines made minimally to reflect site and vintage.

Pinot Noir from Occidental-Freestone (Sonoma Coast) since 2002. Stewards of Summa Vineyard on Taylor Lane since 2010.
700 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

We have sort of run out of things to say about this cuvee.  From what we think are great parcels, containing a little bit of almost every vineyard we source from and coming from a great vintage, the 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot should be on everyone’s radar.  This version has a bit more of the red/orange profile than years past giving it a more tensile feel than either the 2012 or 2013.  As always it is a good snapshot of the vintage as a whole.  In this case it mirrors the single vineyard designates in its freshness, laser focus and abundance of fruit tannin.  This is the smallest quantity of appellation Pinot we have produced since 2009 so we expect it will go quickly.  As you can see from allocations, we have reduced the number available to each person to 3 bottles to try and spread this wine out as widely as possible.

210 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

13.8% alcohol per volume

We are really liking Anderson Valley these days.  So much so, we’ve decided to offer our first ever appellation wine from this storied area.  It is a nice counterpoint to our Sonoma Coast sites in that it focuses more naturally on the savory elements of Pinot Noir.  White and black pepper, rhubarb and black cherry dominate the nose and palate.  There is zero percent new oak on this wine which allows all the best attributes of the grape and the vintage to shine through.  Fruit usually takes center stage even in the most coastal of California Pinots but here the rusticity of Anderson Valley provides a nice compliment to all the sunshine in the wine.  We hope to see this cuvee grow in the coming years, adding another nice value bottling to the lineup that provides both higher than expected quality and a nice snapshot of the character of the vintage.

142 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

We think this complements the 2015 nicely, possibly improving on that edition through the addition of another block and a better understanding of the site.  It still reminds us a bit of the Occidental Ridge bottling in its abundance of fruit tannin.  We’ve now seen the 2015 unwind over the past year so we see this doing the same but maybe needing an additional year due to the vintage.  The complexion is a lighter red, more akin to the Summa bottlings.  The red fruit profile is very fresh focusing more on pomegranate and cranberry.  Coming from the newer plantings on the property, the wine lack some of the more rustic character associated with older Anderson Valley bottlings.  To repeat what we said last year, we are very excited to be working with this site.  You’ll see an equally exciting Bearwallow Chardonnay offered in February.

300 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

This bottling just keeps getting better.  Being more selective with the blocks we use and slowly refining our winemaking, the wine has retained its warmer climate weight while getting more focused and losing its early reductive note.  The whole cluster percentage has been bumped up closer to 20% to add some savory-ness and balance to the exuberant fruit character of the site.  Black cherry, black tea and smoke dominate the palate with a small stem added herbal character creeping in on the finish.  This carries a lot of primary fruit still which I think lends itself to cellaring.  Sometimes in the wine world this is a little counter intuitive (aging fruit forward wines as opposed to structured wines) but in this case I think it will bring out much more complexity and balance over time.  A recent bottle of our first ever Silver Eagle bottling, the 2009, bore this out with the wine showing nice tertiary herbal notes and a refreshing lightness that wasn’t there at bottling.

225 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

This has joined the Summa bottlings as a flagship wine for us.  Like those wines, we’ve kind of run out of things to say about it.  This once again has the most fruit tannin of all the 2016 wines.  The consistency of this vineyard continues to amaze us.  The nose and palate is full once again of baking spice, pennyroyal mint, pine needles and red and black fruits.  The abundant natural acidity adds a mouthwatering freshness that keeps the wine light without cutting into its concentration.  The 10% whole cluster provides balance and a nice lift to the mid-palate.  We’ve been making a concerted effort to try back vintages of all our wines the last few months and we’ve been amazed how well all vintages of Occidental Ridge have held up.  The 2016 edition should continue this trajectory with a wine that drinks well now but has at least 15 years of cellaring ahead of it.

250 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.6% alcohol per volume

It’s nice to have a reasonable quantity of this wine again.  With increased vine age, the regular Summa has taken on increased seriousness over the past few vintages.  As the block creeps up on twenty years of age, it grows closer in character to the Old Vines bottling.  It still is a bit deeper than that wine but it has become less linear and more broad at release.  It may still not have the ethereal character of its sibling bottling but everything else is there: red/orange fruit, forest floor, clove, cut hay and sandalwood.  Given the extreme location of this site, the fruit always has the thickest skins of all the vineyards we work with.  The structure here is definitely a direct result of this site condition.  This, like the Old Vines, sees more oak than the other single vineyard wines to help round out some of its youthful, angular nature.  The crop level in 2016 allowed us to hang the block out a little longer then we could in 2015 producing what might be the most complete wine in the lineup.

150 Cases

2016 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.3% alcohol per volume

This has a more pure red color than in years past.  I’d attribute that to improved farming and the vintage in general.  Nose is classic Summa though, full of Christmas spice, forest floor, clove, sandalwood and citrus peel.  The acidity here is incredibly high, cutting through all the primary fruit this young vintage possesses.  Structure comes up in the end as usual giving the impression the best years for this wine are well ahead of it.  As good as we thought this bottling was the first 10 or so years we made it, the last three vintages have taken it to a level we didn’t see coming.

425 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

We have sort of run out of things to say about this cuvee.  From what we think are great parcels, containing a little bit of almost every vineyard we source from and coming from a great vintage, the 2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot should be on everyone’s radar.  This version has a bit more of the red/orange profile than years past giving it a more tensile feel than either the 2012 or 2013.  As always it is a good snapshot of the vintage as a whole.  In this case it mirrors the single vineyard designates in its freshness, laser focus and abundance of fruit tannin.  This is the smallest quantity of appellation Pinot we have produced since 2009 so we expect it will go quickly.  As you can see from allocations, we have reduced the number available to each person to 3 bottles to try and spread this wine out as widely as possible.

142 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Bearwallow Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

We can’t tell you how excited we are to offer this first Bearwallow wine to you.  When Kevin Harvey at Rhys wrote to inquire as to whether we might want to buy some fruit from his estate vineyard in Anderson Valley, it took us a few minutes to digest the idea of venturing outside the Sonoma Coast.  Once the lunacy of our reservation set in, I immediately emailed him back and told him we’d take everything he’d sell us.  This wine comes from one of the blocks Kevin and his team planted after acquiring this parcel in what’s known as the “deep end” of the valley.  Our first version is a bruiser.  Similar to the Occidental Ridge bottling, there’s plenty of fruit tannin in this wine.  The grip comes on early but is buffered quickly by high-toned fruit components of dark cranberry, cherry and pomegranate.  There’s a slight smokiness to the palate as well.  None of the rusticity of some of the older Pinot plantings in Anderson Valley comes through in the wine but it does have a wild berry, briary quality to the flavor.  Not knowing exactly what to expect, I’d say we are elated with this first offering but do believe it will be a wine that needs some cellar time before completely unwinding.  I personally like the muscle in this and see a long life ahead for this wine, and hopefully also, our relationship with the team at Rhys as well.

110 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

When I first sat down to write these notes, I purposely cracked both Summas and Occidental Ridge as a trio.  Given how strongly the latter has shown the last several years, it certainly has taken its place as one of our most consistently great offerings.   All this talk of 2005 makes me think of how well that first vintage for us is still showing.  Given its high fruit tannin and natural acidity, we knew it was going to be an ager but we struggled to keep our hands off those first few vintages.  It is hard to recall exactly what that 2005 tasted like at this stage but I imagine the 2015 might be even better due to improvements in the vineyard and our greater understanding of working with the fruit from this site.  The pennyroyal mint note is there on the nose as usual along with a nice mix of red and black fruits, menthol and some wild herbs.  The acidity lends coolness to the aromatic that follows through in the way of a mouthwatering freshness on the palate.  In a vintage and site marked by fruit tannin, this already has a nice balance between fruit, acid and structure.  This is still one of the wines that will need the most time to come around but hard not to appreciate its power and abundance right now.

143 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

This will be our last vintage of Kanzler as the family is retaining a little more of their estate fruit to help build their own label.  We’ve enjoyed our relationship with the family and their commitment to quality for the past four vintages.  This was always a site we’d walk, shrug our shoulders and leave knowing there wasn’t much in the way of adjustment we needed to ask for.  In the cellar we’ve continued to up our whole cluster percentage to help balance the abundant dark fruit profile we see from this site.  Like last year, the dominant notes are cola and darker cherry and raspberry.  Though it is one of our warmer sites, there’s plenty of natural acidity to cut into the generosity of the fruit.  This too has an ample amount of fruit tannin, something that appears to be a vintage character.  We are sad to see this site go but certainly nice to go out on the best version to date.

213 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

Pulling more blocks from Ulises Valdez’s arguably best estate Pinot vineyard has allowed us to become more selective about what makes it into this single vineyard bottling.  This edition is focused primarily on VR and Calera clones with most of the 828 landing in the Sonoma Coast bottling.    This selectivity plus a few tweaks to the winemaking (most importantly some whole cluster) make this the best Silver Eagle to date.  There’s none of the reductiveness of the earlier vintages which allows the darker fruit profile to show through.  The savory-ness from the stems and the high natural acidity combine with the inherent power to create the most complete Silver Eagle to date.     The flavor profile here is made up of wilder notes, more savory than sweet, featuring smoke, tar, licorice, violets, pomegranate and darker berries.

42 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.6% alcohol per volume

1 ton off of 3 acres, that might rival the historically low yields we saw in 2005.  Walking the vineyard in the summer of 2015, it looked like everything had already been picked with several consecutive vines ripening zero fruit due to the abysmal set.  On the positive side (and also similar to 2005), the resulting wine possesses enormous concentration without coming across as heavy or tiresome.  The nose is very similar to the Old Vines bottling but with maybe a touch more fruit and a little less savory.  The pine needle/forest floor component is there but the red/orange fruit profile sits on top of it making this feel even more accessible than its sister bottling at this stage.  This wine is a little deeper at this point but not as broad.  As the vines in this block have matured, this bottling has begun to rival the overall quality of the Old Vines.  Tasting these side by side today, hard to say which I prefer but happy to be presented with such a pleasant dilemma.

52 Cases

2015 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.3% alcohol per volume

1.25 tons off of 1.75 acres, that’s the metric we keep coming back to.  It has happened before but it still always takes us by surprise.  Sadly, this isn’t even the lowest yield of the vintage (we will get to the regular Summa note in a minute).   Quantity notwithstanding, the quality of the farming here continues to improve under the watchful eye of Ulises Valdez.  The color, aromatic and flavor profiles of this bottling are much more intact and filled out at release than they were in years past.  Everything in perfect proportion means this wine will drink better earlier than some of the past vintages like 2009 and 2010 which seem to still be searching for their fruit/acid balance.  In addition to the normal red/orange profile, this edition has a pine-y, Christmas spice quality that translates as more savory than sweet.  The lifted quality in the wine comes from the abundant natural acidity that is tamed nicely by the barely noticeable 100% new oak.   Even with some accessibility, I still think this will prove to be one of the longest lived, most complete versions of Summa Old Vine to date.

600 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

Made up of the Mount Eden, Calera, 828 and Pommard clones from the Riddle Ranch and Manzanita Vineyard, this might be our most serious edition of the straight Sonoma Coast bottling to date.  There are no holes in this wine from first sniff to the last flash of finish.  If this is the bottling we use to gauge the quality of the vintage, we should be in good shape.  Dark garnet in color, the first thing that leaps out at you is a concentrated pomegranate/orange oil nose that has become our Occidental hallmark.  Sassafras and black tea creep in on the palate as does some grip which helps hold and prolong the finish.  The varietal trueness might be the wine’s greatest feature but there’s a lot to like here.  It feels like a familiar wine, very Sonoma Coast, very Pinot and very Rivers-Marie.

350 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.4% alcohol per volume

This wine has gotten better every year since we first bottled it in 2009.  The farming of the vineyard by owner Ulises Valdez and his crew has always been top notch, the improvements have come more on our end in how we vinify and blend the blocks we receive.  Dark garnet in color and darker fruited than the other offerings, this is a meatier style compared to the colder climate Occidental bottlings.  Like 2012 and 2013, we used 10% whole cluster to give the mid palate a bit more texture and cut the more overt fruitiness of the site.  There’s a slight bit of reduction on the nose that comes across as crushed vitamin but it quickly dissipates with air.  This version of Silver Eagle features the best balance yet between ripeness, acidity and tannin.

250 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

We upped the whole cluster percentage for this vineyard in 2014 from 10 to 15% to counter some of the inherent juiciness in this site.  The result is the best texture to date in our Kanzler bottlings without compromising what the site has to express.  This is still a very fruit forward site with notes of cola nut, dark cherries and black raspberry balanced by plenty of natural acidity and fruit tannin. Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir

275 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

Medium garnet in color, this is initially the most reticent aromatically of all the wines in the lineup.  Due I assume to the abundant fruit tannin and natural acidity, this edition takes an hour or two to open up.  With some coaxing, the wine uncoils to reveal sassafras, purple fruits, pennyroyal mint and pine needles.  This bottling gets better every year and we give all the credit to owners/growers Richard and Darla Radcliffe.  This is the 10th vintage of Occidental Ridge we’ve released and we feel honored to have it as such an integral part of Rivers-Marie.

250 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.6% alcohol per volume

It’s nice to see quantity rebound for this wine in 2014.  The other thing we’ve noticed is a dramatic uptick in quality for both Summa bottlings due to a renewed focus on farming.  There are no holes in this wine as there might have been in years past.  The Summa bottlings always came into equilibrium with time in bottle but at release we always found one or two things lacking in the wines.  With this vintage, everything we’ve always liked about the site is magnified.  The color is a more saturated red owing to the healthiness of the fruit in 2014.  The nose and palate both have the classic Summa orange/red fruit profile with a touch of savory-ness perhaps due to the first ever inclusion of the interplant block.  The interplants’ first crop was 2006 so it took us 9 vintages before we were comfortable including it in a Summa bottling.  As nice as the palate is on this wine, I could just smell this all day.

125 Cases

2014 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.3% alcohol per volume

This is the most aromatically expressive Old Vines to date.  It too has the orange fruit element but also wintergreen, Christmas spice, pine needles, forest floor and black tea.  The Old Vines has always been a very broad wine but this year features a bit more depth as well.  The old vine extract gives the wine plenty of immediate appeal but even as complete as this is, it still holds plenty in reserve for future years.

600 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.0% alcohol per volume

We love this wine for many reasons.  We and many others have remarked about its overall quality often.  One of the things we are most proud of as wine consumers as well is the price.  The first ever Sonoma Coast from Rivers-Marie, the 2004, was released in January 2006 for $25.  The 2013 edition nine years later will be released for $25.  The focus, as it always has been, is delivering quality that far exceeds price.  This version due to the vintage is a little more dark fruited then previous efforts.  There’s the usual pomegranate, smoke and red currant qualities but the potential held in reserve is what marks the vintage.  That quality is shown chiefly by the texture of all the wines in 2013.  Everything is a bit broader and more intellectually interesting than in previous years

400 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

This wine has gotten better every year since we first bottled it in 2009.  The farming of the vineyard by owner Ulises Valdez and his crew has always been top notch, the improvements have come more on our end in how we vinify and blend the blocks we receive.  This is one of our warmer sites so the fruit here is darker than other bottlings but the higher degree of natural acidity and lowest pH of the vintage provide balance and freshness.  That cut and a small whole cluster addition contribute a broader, more textured mid-palate.  There’s also a slight varietal savory-ness that adds complexity and complements the generosity of the vintage.

200 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

The attention to detail in the farming of this site by the Kanzler family continues to amaze us.  No item is left unattended throughout the year.  This is also in our opinion the most improved wine, compared to its 2012 edition, in the lineup.  The 2013 represents our second vintage working with this site so we made a few changes to how we made the wine to get more of the potential out of the grapes.  Like Occidental Ridge and Silver Eagle, we used 10% whole cluster to help add aromatic complexity and a bit more texture and tannin to balance the generous fruit inherent in the site.  We also went longer on skins with this site then any other ferment in 2013.  We allowed the cap to collapse into the juice as fermentation slowed and tasted every day looking for increased intellectual interest and some of the more savory/spicy elements of the vineyard to show themselves.  The result is a much more complete wine that packs in even more of the greatness of the Kanzler site.

275 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.9% alcohol per volume

This is arguably the most complete of the ’13s at release.  Aromatically explosive, the high acid profile of this site expresses itself in a combination of red and black fruits, Asian spice, pennyroyal mint and licorice.  We continue to be impressed by the progress of this site and all the potential it has realized the last several years.  We think of ourselves personally as volume drinkers and the refreshing, mouth watering character of this site encourages multiple glasses as the wine unwinds.  We once again employed 10% whole cluster to give the wine a bit more breadth and aromatic complexity.  This vintage holds plenty in reserve but the greatness is undeniable.

60 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.8% alcohol per volume

Like we mentioned last year, we thought we had the farming at our estate vineyard figured out.  We forgot on the true coast Mother Nature is in charge not us.  After harvesting 8 tons from this 3 acre block in 2012, we brought in just under 1.25 tons total in 2013.  This wine is more mineral/graphite than its predecessor.  Texture again defines the wine but this vintage adds a little wintergreen spice to go along with the savory/fruit balance.  Red and orange fruits are lurking in the background waiting for time in the cellar to bring out all the potential in the wine

200 Cases

2013 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.7% alcohol per volume

This thankfully didn’t suffer the extreme reversal of yield fortune the regular Summa did.  It’s down but only to a more normal level of 1.5 tons per acre.  We’ve said this before but we’ve run out of ways to describe this wine.  It’s the broader version of the regular Summa.  We always attribute it to vine age and we are sticking with that idea having come up with nothing better to explain the depth of this wine and its confounding, corresponding lightness. 

800 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

350 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.3% alcohol per volume

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

200 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Kanzler Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

325 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.9% alcohol per volume

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.

450 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.9% alcohol per volume

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.

275 Cases

2012 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.5% alcohol per volume

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.

450 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

225 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

160 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

12.8% alcohol per volume

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.

204 Cases

2011 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

12.4% alcohol per volume

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.

600 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

169 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

185 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

200 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.8% alcohol per volume

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.

137 Cases

2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard 'Old Vines' Pinot Noir

13.0% alcohol per volume

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.

279 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alcohol per volume

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.

86 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

133 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Pinot Noir

13.5% alcohol per volume

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.

106 Cases

2009 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.2% alcohol per volume

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

225 Cases

2008 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alcohol per volume

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.

 

225 Cases

2008 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.4% alcohol per volume

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.

200 Cases

2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

 

175 Cases

2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.0% alcohol per volume

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.

225 Cases

2007 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

 

180 Cases

2007 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.4% alcohol per volume

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

120 Cases

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.2% alcohol per volume

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. 

100 Cases

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.4% alcohol per volume

Every year a couple of the 100 or so lots I’m responsible for press off 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

188 Cases

2006 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

This actually showed the best at bottling. In 2006, we racked and returned each barrel individually so we could evaluate the oak program and how each vineyard responded to different coopers. It also allowed us to declassify anything that we felt didn’t work for each vineyard. Though the individual parts were what didn't make the vineyard cut, the sum of these parts actually makes for quite a good wine. The blend is roughly 3 barrels Occidental Ridge, 2 barrels Summa and 3 barrels Willow Creek. The wine is an interesting mix of both red and black fruits, rhubarb and sassafras. The acidity is naturally high providing nice length to the finish. The wine, like all the other bottlings, is firm on the finish and will require a bit of patience before all the acid integrates.

301 Cases

2006 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.4% alcohol per volume

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.

 

62 Cases

2006 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

13.7% alcohol per volume

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.

163 Cases

2006 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.9% alcohol per volume

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. 

140 Cases

2005 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.

45 Cases

2005 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

13.7% alcohol per volume

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.

5 Cases

2005 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

We won't torture you with notes

180 Cases

2004 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

This is a blend of two Occidental vineyards, Gioia 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.  Gioia 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 Gioia '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.

130 Cases

2004 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir

14.1% alcohol per volume

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.

60 Cases

2004 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir

14.2% alcohol per volume

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.