Every now and then I hear from various people how much I need to taste this new wine or that new wine. Everyone knows how much I like the small, artisanal winemakers and they want to let me in on the latest secret. It actually seems like more and more of these boutique wineries are popping up on a daily basis. This is a great thing, of course, but there are so many of them that I feel like I'm getting behind, and sadly am no longer the first to carry these little gems on my lists.
One such winery is Rivers Marie. I've been hearing about this label for a while now, but just hadn't gotten the opportunity to taste it. When asked about it, people would give me that sad and slightly disparaging look of, "Where have YOU been?" Thankfully, I've been to Napa and was able to sit down with Nat Gunter at their offices in Saint Helena to taste through their latest releases. I can honestly say that I can see what all of the talk is about. These are some pretty delicious and luscious wines.
Rivers Marie is a wine project started by Thomas Rivers Brown and Genevieve Marie Welsh, Pinot lovers and winemakers. They started their business, much as Suzanne and I did, with the desire to make something to share with others and that truly reflects what they personally enjoy. They are making wine in the Occidental area of the Sonoma Coast AVA and are fortunate enough to be working with an outstanding vineyard source, the Summa Vineyard. Cool climate fruit which translates into elegant wine is the name of the game here.
I tasted through a few of their Pinot Noirs, and though they were all wonderfully seductive, I did have a favorite, the 2008 Summa Vineyards, Old Vines. This wine is an interesting study in contrasts. It shows a deep concentration of bright cherry, young fig and cedar-like spice notes followed by a cleansing acidity and earthiness that keeps it from being too fruity. It has a fairly lush quality to its texture, while also having a lightness of body. It definitely speaks of Sonoma with its spicy character, brightness and zip of orange-like fruit that runs throughout. I think the thing I like most about it is its acid and tannin structure, something that gives it great length and life.
Of course, this is also the most expensive of their Pinots, but I have to say, well worth the price. They truly make so little of each of these wines that it is next to impossible to get one's hands on any of them. And even though I'm trying to be conservative in these financially trying times, I decided that I just had to go for it. I bought a case for Lucques and know that those twelve bottles won't last very long. That's the beauty and the dilemma of these small production wines. Those few bottles sell out so quickly that you've gotta get them while they last.