Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rivers-Marie Spring 2010 Allocation! 2008 Vintage Wines to be Released

To all of you Rivers-Marie fans out there, today marks the one week countdown to the 2010 Spring Release of the 2008 vintage chardonnay, as well as the 2008 pinot noir. As usual, this is a release that I am really looking forward to, and even with cutting back on purchases in 2010, this is definitely one that I will jump on. I am a HUGE fan of Thomas Rivers Brown, and he is one of my favorite winemakers out there these days. His work and triumphs are many, and the wines he is crafting are outstanding. That being said, here are the notes from the Rivers-Marie Website: The 2008 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay release letter will go out Wednesday January 20th. The offering will consist of 3 bottles each of the Sonoma Coast, Occidental Ridge, Summa and Summa Old Vines and 2 bottles of the B. Thieriot Chardonnay. The prices will remain the same as last year and everyone who received a Cabernet offering in the fall will receive this offer. Winter 2010 We feel pretty fortunate to be releasing 2008 Sonoma Coast wines. After avoiding a wicked spring frost and the worst smoke taint in recent memory in the fall, making the wine was the easy part. We did deal with some pretty intense heat at the tail end of the growing season but the closer the vineyard was to the coast, the better it handled it. We began harvesting September 5th (the earliest since 2004) and finished with Summa Old Vines end of September. The mention of the 2004 vintage is apt here both as a comment on the weather and the characteristics of the wines. The verve and nervosity that existed in those wines early is present in the 2008s. They are certainly tightly wound now but the textbook sappy mid palate is present. There’s not much talk about this vintage right now. It seems to be lost in the afterglow of 2007. Whereas those wines were approachable young with all of their structure underneath the baby fat, the 2008s begin with their backbone and will take some time to round out, not dissimilar to the 2004s. For us, it’s definitely a more red/orange fruit focused year and acidities across the board are a bit higher than 2006 and 2007. We are still in a wait and see mode for the 2009s. About half the lots are finished with ML, racked and sulfured with the other half dry and in various stages of ML completion. We can say as usual the Summa Old Vines lot looks strong with its usual kaleidoscopic aromatics and very broad palate. The other early front runner is a new vineyard for us, Silver Eagle, which comes courtesy of Ulises Valdez. The bad news is that the quantity of potential vineyard designate lots is off by at least 50% in all cases. We’ll know more as the wines develop but it’s looking like it could be a Sonoma Coast heavy allocation next year. For this release we’ve gone back to charging for shipping though at a heavily discounted rate. To make things simple, we’ve scaled it down to $2 a bottle ground for CA and OR and $3 a bottle ground for everywhere else we can ship. 2 day air will be $4 a bottle mainland-wide and $5 a bottle to HI and AK. Unfortunately there’s not enough margin on $25 Pinot to offer free shipping but we will return to that with the 2008 Cabernet offer in early fall. This offer will be open through February 19th but we do have some concern about how long the wines will last once released, especially the Chardonnay. Everything should stick around for at least a week but with allocations being an inexact science it’s hard to say for sure. We anticipate shipping beginning February 22nd weather permitting. As in the past, if you have a magnum request please forward it in a separate e mail at Now for the wines: 2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 225 cases, 13.8% alcohol, 25% new French oak This is the $25 Pinot we first set out to make. Combining all the Willow Creek, the two youngest blocks of Summa and two barrels from Occidental Ridge, the 2008 Sonoma Coast captures everything we love about the fruit from Occidental. It’s already the most aromatically complete of the bunch jumping out of the glass with sassafras, pine needles, orange peel and a light floral note. Whereas the 2007 version was the drinker of the vintage, the 2008 may take a little time to unwind unless it’s given ample air. It’s always a snapshot into what the vintage holds and this shows the higher toned nature of the year perfectly. 2008 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 225 cases, 14.4% alcohol, 40% new French oak Our one offering from the east side of Occidental, this wine is always a study in contrast. It’s the warmest site but it has the highest acid. It has the longest growing season but the lowest pH. The fruit here gets riper than any other site but the wine features the greatest quantity of fruit tannin. These are the things now four years into it that make this site special. The wine has a seamlessness to it right now that the other three Pinots in this offering don’t have. It’s the most mouth coating of the bunch as well with a bigness that is buffered nicely by its 3.5 pH. Being on the border of Sonoma Coast and Russian River it features qualities of both retaining a sour cherry coastal flavor while flirting with blacker fruits of a more plummy nature. 2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 200 cases, 14.1% alcohol, 60% new French oak We continue to be impressed by the evolution of this block within Summa Vineyard. You can always taste the kinship between this wine and its old vine sibling but now there’s a firm identity present here. The regular Summa bottling shows mineral notes, pomegranate, red/orange fruit peel, forest floor like the Old Vines but this wine is deeper, denser and rounder. It has a mid-palate sappiness to it that we shoot for in all our wines, a trait we’ve come to love in great Burgundies. There’s more generosity in this wine right now and like the Occidental Ridge bottling might be the wine to open first in 2008. 2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 175 cases, 13.0% alcohol, 100% new French oak The most focused wine of the 2008 vintage, the Summa Old Vines tastes like a wine that has been fully realized. As we said above, there is similarity between the two Summa bottlings but the Old Vines has a broader palate due, we assume, to vine age. This is always a wine to contemplate and the 2008 is no different. Beginning with notes of white and red flowers, orange peel, licorice and kirsch, the nose has an ethereal quality that makes Pinot Noir so seductive. There’s a big mid palate acid blast that more than balances the brooding nature of the wine. The acidity helps to flesh out the finish and give the wine its verve. We like the tautness of the wine right now but there’s no doubt it will age gracefully and add some sweetness as it develops. 2008 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 126 cases, 13.5% alcohol, 70% new French oak Without talking overall quality, we simply did a better job of making this wine in 2008. The raw material and potential quality of the two vintages was very similar. Though instead of treating the 2008 as one lot, we monitored every barrel as individual wines to make sure we could track fermentation completion as it happened. In hindsight I believe our lack of this approach for the 2007 allowed too much of that wine to sit unsulfured for way too long. The 2008 has a strong acid spine and features a more green-gold color and a freshness to the palate that the 2007 is missing. Otherwise the notes are very similar between the two vintages: lime blossoms, Meyer lemon, wet stones, lightly toasted hazelnuts and a hint of white chocolate at the end. There is more persistence to the finish of this wine than any other wine we’ve ever made. The 2007 seemed like a wine that would require patience, the 2008 definitely will. Thank you once again for all the support and for making what we love to do possible. Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Welsh Once again, this is a release that I am really looking forward to, and from the sounds of it, the wines will once again be killer! They may take a little longer in the bottle to come around, but once they do, I am willing to bet they will magnificent. That being said, gie them a try and let me know what you think! Cheers!

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