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Rivers-Marie

Owner(s) Genevieve Marie Walsh, Thomas Rivers Brown
Web site www.riversmarie.com
 
Link to this site
Rivers-Marie

Thomas Rivers Brown and his wife Genevieve Marie Walsh have quietly developed one of California’s most cherished Pinot Noir labels. Thomas hails from South Carolina and was educated at the University of Virginia. In college he majored in English literature and game theory, two subjects about as distant from enology as possible. Brown traveled frequently to Europe after graduating in 1995, but had no intention of making wine. He arrived in Napa in 1997, and immediately fell in love with Northern California. He became hooked on playing the wine game, but had no leads or connections whatsoever. Initially, he sold wine at retailer All Seasons in Calistoga and worked at Rasmussen. His breakthrough came when he was hired by winemaker Ehren Jordan at Turley Wine Cellars. This was to become a very fortuitous hire as Ehren subsequently introduced Thomas to Scott and Joan Zeller, the owners of the 6-acre Summa Vineyard in the Occidental region of the true Sonoma Coast. Early on (2002 was the first Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir release), Summa Vineyard was the only source of Pinot Noir for Thomas, but led to other grape acquisitions in the area.

Today, Rivers-Marie produces very small amounts of Pinot Noir from three vineyard sources in the true Sonoma Coast, specifically the Occidental-Freestone area. Besides Summa Vineyard, which Brown purchased in 2010, grapes are sourced from the Occidental Ridge Vineyard (owned by Richard and Darla Radcliffe) which debuted in 2005, the Willow Creek Vineyard (2 acres owned by Raleigh and Patricia Wilson-Juckett) which debuted in 2006, and a new vineyard, Silver Eagle, owned by Ulises Valdez. A Chardonnay is crafted from Thieriot Vineyard near Summa Vineyard, and a Cabernet is produced from the Corona Vineyard in Oakville and Panek Vineyard in St. Helena.

Total production for Rivers-Marie in 2007 is 650 cases. Its no wonder that there are 4,000 people on the waiting list hopelessly biding their time for a spot on the mailing list. Managing allocations is more difficult for Thomas than crafting his wines!

Remarkably, Thomas also has a hand in crafting wine for fifteen different wineries in Napa at the Black Sears and Outpost wineries on Howell Mountain, processing 300 tons of grapes annually, primarily Cabernet Sauvignon for clients like Schrader Cellars, Chris Maybach (Maybach), Double Diamond, former San Francisco 49er president Carmen Policy (Casa Piena), baseball Hall of Famer Ton Seaver (GTS), Harris Estate, Tru, Outpost, Black Sears, Hobel, Clark-Claudon, Charles Krug (Aloft) and wine for restaurateur Michael Chiarello. He also consults fro Revana and Round Pond. He worked at Nicholson Ranch from 2003 to 2007 as well.

Brown has a second Pinot Noir project with Fred Schrader, Aston Estate, sourcing Pinot Noir from the Annapolis region of the true Sonoma Coast. The 40-acre property has 14 acres of Pinot Noir planted. The Aston Pinot Noirs share the richness found in the Schrader Cabernets, while the Rivers-Marie Pinot Noirs have been more restrained. The Rivers-Marie and Aston Estate wines are produced at Black Sears Winery.

Brown attributes much of his self-taught winemaking acumen to a devotion to tasting wines from all over the world. His style is a result of wines he has consumed and appreciated. Despite crafting many high-end Cabernets, his first love is Pinot Noir.

Rivers-Marie wines are sold exclusively through a mailing list which has been full for some time now. You can add your name to the waiting list on the website, but you might be better served to seek out a few bottles on the secondary market. A Chardonnay from Thieriot Vineyard located in the true Sonoma Coast will be available in 2007. There is also a Rivers-Marie Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain. Thomas Rivers Brown was the 2010 Food and Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year.

Reviewed Wines

2011 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., 160 cases, $45. One of the lightest wines in 2011. Aged in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Shy and not particularly appealing with aromas of red and blue berries, apple and green beans. The red fruit flavors trump the nose but the wine is still rather shallow from entry through the finish, and noticeably less concentrated and ripe than the 2010 vintage. There is an appealing finesse and elegance on display, but the crisp acidity overwhelms the meager fruit. Slightly better the next day from a previously opened and recorked bottle. Good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Rivers-Marie Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 143 cases, $50. Clone 113 and Pommard. Located in proximity to Summa Vineyard. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, raspberries, forest floor, moss and graham. Very tasty with a vibrant core of cherry and red berry fruit accented by notes of sassafras and Asian 5-spice. Presents a charming elegance with supple tannins and a refreshing finish. Not as big and boisterous as the 2010 vintage, but the similarities between the two vintages are evident, and the wine is quite charming in its own right. Very good. Looking forward to trying the 2012 vintage from this vineyard. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 225 cases, $50. The vineyard’s location in the northeastern part of Occidental allowed it to achieve full maturity before the rains and it shows in this wine. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely perfumed with bright aromas of dark raspberry jam, pine and spice. Soft in the mouth with mid weight flavors of black raspberries, black plums and mocha. The most concentrated wine in the 2011 lineup, with tenacious fruit that seeks out every corner of the mouth, finishing with impressive persistence. Even better later in the day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2011 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

12.8% alc., 204 cases, $50. A combination of all blocks at Summa Vineyard. Aged in 75% new French oak barrels. · Light reddish-purple color in the glass. Red fruited on the nose and palate showing its usual spice and orange peel highlights, but offering an uncharacteristic and curious savory and smoky note. Very good acidity and brisk on the palate and finish. A skeleton of its usual self. About the same the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Good at best. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 185 cases, $45. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color in the glass. Ying (savory) and yang (fruit) nose offering scents of dark stone fruits, cinnamon spice, forest floor, pine, mushroom and oak. Plush, full and creamy on the palate featuring flavors of dark red berries and plums, finishing soft and intense with a good cut of acidity. The ripest and most concentrated wine in the 2010 lineup, but not weighty. One of the biggest Rivers-Marie wines ever and a magnet for fruit lovers. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.,169 cases, $45. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels. Farmed by Ulises Valdez. Clone VR and 828. · Moderately dark reddish-purple color and hazy in the glass. Very brooding, with shy aromas of blackberry jam, black currant, and oak cask. Mid weight core of tasty black fruits backed by complimentary oak. The wine displays a soft, polished texture, balanced tannins, and a welcome cut of acidity on the finish. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Gioia Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 120 cases, $50. Aged in 80% new French oak barrels. Gioia is a 2-acre vineyard just west of Occidental on Joy Road, about a mile from Summa Vineyard as the crow flies. A mix of 115 and Pommard clones. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The most aromatic wine in the lineup, filling the glass with a perfume of fresh black cherries, raspberries, clove and other spices, and sandalwood. Discretely concentrated dark raspberry and cherry fruit flavors with a hint of brown spice and dark chocolate. The mid palate fruit is very exotic and striking in its vividness, persisting with uncommon clarity in a very juicy, splashy finish. Seamless, with modest tannins, and easy to dance with now. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 200 cases, $50. 10% whole cluster. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very unusual array of aromas and hard to pin down with proper descriptors. I get some aromas of cherries, orange pekoe tea, spice and vanilla wafer. Middleweight flavors of cherries, raspberries and blueberries with the slightest oak in the background. A well-mannered, but not exciting wine, with balanced tannins and crisp acidity. Good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 137 cases, $75. Aged in 80% new French oak. Yields just shy of 1 ton per acre. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Big, bold aromas of dark berry jam and black cherries with a hint of dark caramel. Luscious and creamy on the palate with a wave of rather exotic ripe dark berry and plum flavors with hints of spice and toasty oak. Well-balanced tannins and acidity with a long, layered, fruit-filled finish so typical of this vineyard. Tempting now, but best to wait another 3 to 5 years. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2010 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.0% alc., 137 cases, $75. Aged in 80% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of black cherries, orange peel, exotic spices and espresso-laced oak. Sumptuous, long and full on the palate featuring flavors of ripe cherries, citrus flavored cranberries, and spice. Picks up interest and intensity over time in the glass. This wine offers obvious sophistication in a gentle, more demure style in this vintage. Very good. Reviewed May 5, 2013 ARTICLE »

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2009 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

13.9% alc., 116 cases. Aged in 60% new French oak barrels. 100% MLF. · Honey color (second to some botrytis) and clear in the glass. Faint aromas of apple crisp and toasty oak. Delicious and complex with vivid flavors of baked pears, baked apples, honey, yeast, creme soda, toasted coconut and some citrus peel bringing up the finish. Many of the flavors upon opening are oak-driven but tasted the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle, there was more aromatic interest and less oak influence. Nicely balanced and very smooth on the palate with a good grip of acidity. A unique Chardonnay that will please the adventurous. Cellar or decant if you drink now. Very good. Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., 279 cases, $25. A 12 barrel blend composed roughly of 50% Summa Vineyard (declassified), 25% Willow Creek Vineyard and 25% Lancel Creek Vineyard. Aged in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of ripe strawberries, dried rose petals and smoky oak. Redder fruits are featured in a slightly terse, almost steely wine with supple tannins, finishing with an acidic tang of grapefruit peel. An excellent wine for the dinner table. Good. Reviewed September 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 133 cases, $45. Aged in 33% new French oak barrels.The grape berries were exceptionally small in 2009, composed of only skin and seed. · The resulting juice was dark purple. Dark black plum color in the glass. Aromas of blackberries, dark stone fruits, oak spice and slight reduction. Richly fruited with intense flavors of grilled black fruits, cassis and an underlying savory note. Bright acidity, soft tannins and a smooth mouth feel add to the appeal. This Pinot has as enough acidity to balance out the bold fruit. Very good. Reviewed September 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Rivers-Marie Silver Eagle Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 86 cases, $45. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. Made with reduction so locked down since bottling. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Reduction upon opening with a heavy scent of oak-derived coffee. Medium-weighted flavors of black cherries and dark red berries with smoky oak and coffee notes in the background. Impressive elegance and softness with a bright lift of acidity on the finish. Decanting recommended. Good (+). Reviewed September 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2009 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 106 cases, $60. Aged in 80% new French oak. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Restrained aromas of black cherries, black plums and seasoned oak. Richly flavored red and black fruits accented with notes of spice, herbs and oak. Very soft in the mouth with a bright cut of acidity on the very long finish. Makes a lasting impression. Still young and hasn’t reached its full potential. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 106 cases, $60. Aged in 80% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. An enticing and aromatically exotic nose featuring mixed berries and black cherries with a hint of toasty oak. Clearly the most intoxicating perfume in the lineup. Smooth and polished on the palate with ripe flavors of red plums and cranberries with an underpinning of savory herbs and oak. Similar to the Sonoma Coast bottling in its flavor profile, but with more body, flavor, mid-palate impression and nuance. A delicious wine that has the balance to age extremely well. There is really nothing else quite like a Pinot Noir from these old vines in the Summa Vineyard. Reviewed September 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 225 cases, $25. An earlier drinking wine composed of younger blocks of Summa Vineyard and other barrels from Occidental Ridge and Willow Creek (production was tiny and all of it went into this bottling). · Exciting scents of boysenberries, brioche, seasoned oak and a swirl of spices. The most showy nose in the lineup. Discreetly rich in the mouth, with a wave of black cherries, dark berries, cola, smoke and savory herbs wrapped in peach-skin tannins that combine in a very pleasurable drinking experience. Very good. Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.50, 225 cases, $45. · This one will make the hair on your neck stand erect. Lovely aromas of freshly picked red and black berries and cherries nicely spiced with hints of soak and sage. In the mouth I was at a loss for descriptors. My notes say, “Amazing fruit, want more, really attacks, great juice, class in the glass.” This wine has that California fruit viscosity that makes you proud to be an American, and an addictive and refreshing ending in which the fragrance returns to haunt the finish. It was scary that this wine was better later in the day from a bottle opened earlier in the morning. Imagine what this wine will be like in a couple of years! Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 200 cases, $45. · Enticing perfume of fresh red stone fruits and berries with exotic spices and baked apple. Delicious melange of dark red cherries and berries with nuances of dark chocolate, Moroccan spices, anise, smoke, and savory herbs. The fruit is robust, virile and mouth coating and persists through a generous finish. A whisper of tannin makes for approachability now. A top-shelf Pinot Noir that has the goods and balance to improve in the cellar over the next several years. Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 175 cases, $60. Aged in 100% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. On the nose, dark fruits are featured including plums and black cherries with a hint of ash and lime. Delicious black cherry core with very slight creosole and smoke flavors. Moderate dry tannins and very impressive length on the finish. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 175 cases, $60. · Intoxicating aromas of wild berries and black cherries and other pheromone scents that make you giddy. Structured and stuffed with an entirely seductive and ever-expanding arsenal of dark red cherries, berries and currants underlain with a subtle smokiness, haunting earthiness and a hint of mushrooms on the grill. Enough tannins for the long haul and balancing acidity to hold the fruit in check. The finish goes on and on, leading to a veritable winegasm. Still tightly wound but considerable upside potential long term. Reviewed June 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Clones 115, 777. · The deepest colored wine in the lineup. Plenty of acidity that is hidden by the fruit richness present. Mouthcoating aromas and flavors of fresh berries, mocha, and graham. A Lolita, but still hitting plenty of high notes. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Aromas of bright cherries carry through to the finish. Delicious and juicy, with lively acidity on the finish. Needs a little time to shed refined, but notable tannins. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Exotic scents of wild berries, spices, and graham. Plummy dark fruit with sinew which is brooding, rich and plush, but retains a degree of finesse. Tangy acidity provides juiciness. A wine to contemplate. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Young Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Touch reduced at present. Sweet red stone fruit charge with herbal and orange peel highlights. Immensely satisfying finish that won’t let go. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Willow Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

3 barrels. · Complex and comforting nose featuring cherries, floral perfume, and oak spice. Not particularly giving now with reticent earth-imbibed cherry flavors. Quite gentle with finely ground tannins. Reviewed July 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc., 225 cases, $25. Sourced from clone 667 from Occidental Ridge, the youngest block of Summa Vineyard and three barrels of Willow Creek Vineyard that didn’t make the vineyard cut. Aged in 25% new French oak. · Very pretty aromas of red and black cherries, wildflowers and cardamon spice. Tasty potpourri of layered fruits including black cherries, black raspberries, plums and pomegranate with hints of oak and earth. A lift of acidity on the moderately persistent finish makes for easy drinkability. A good wine in its own right that would compete with many wines priced significantly higher, but outclassed by the other wines in the Rivers-Marie lineup. Drinkable now. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Willow Creek Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 84 cases, $40. From a 2- acre vineyard planted to Dijon clone 777. Aged in 33% new French oak. · Deep reddish-purple color. Very attractive scents of black fruits, sandalwood and spices. A juicy Pinot Noir with vivid, fresh black cherry, cranberry and raspberry fruits. Rich but not cloying with a smooth texture, a good acid spine and soft tannins. Still seems a bit withdrawn and will benefit from decanting if drunk now. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.4% alc., 180 cases, $45. Clones 115 and 777. Aged in 40% new French oak. · Complex aromatic profile of dark stone fruits, crushed berries, sage, green garden and smoke. Rich and perfectly ripe black raspberry fruit with an underpinning of earth, oak and orange peel. Thick and robust, yet perfectly balanced with complimentary tannins and acidity. The aromatic and fruity finish is haunting. A thoroughbred that challenges the Summa Old Vines for superiority. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.2% alc., 120 cases, $45. Aged in 60% new French oak. · A wowzer nose featuring flamboyant aromas of cherries and berries enhanced with subtle smoky oak. Beautiful core of cherry and berry fruits with hints of pine tar, earth and cola. Packed with flavor yet nimble and harmonious. Smooth in texture with a hint of citric peel on the pleasing finish. Accessible now but will reward patience. A sixty-minute wine: rock ‘em, roll ‘em, all night long. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 100 cases, $60. Aged in 100% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Beguiling aromas of fresh black cherries and spice. Very soft in the mouth, with a delicious core of medium-weight flavors of perfectly ripe cherries and baking spices. Really impresses with depth of flavor which seems to expand into every crevice in the mouth. Well-proportioned tannins and acidity with amazing length on the glorious finish. Poised for many years of exceptional drinking ahead. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2007 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.4% alc., 100 cases, $60. Aged in 100% new French oak. · The nose is similar to the regular Summa bottling but with a magical and penetrating Asian spice scent that smells like the most erotic pheromone in the world. Unbelievably delicious sappy cherry and berry fruit with wisps of sassafras, cola, and exotic spices. The velvety texture is enough to bring you to your knees. An incredible wine that defies adequate description. Suffice it to say that this is a winegasm - one of those Pinot Noirs with such a powerful charisma, that it drives men to do practically anything to get another bottle. Reviewed July 9, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.2% alc.,140 cases, $40. Clones 115, 667, 777. Aged in 67% new oak. · Pie-spiced black cherries and cola carry the show from start-to-finish. A complimentary citrus note adds zip and zing to the finish. All silk and satin with an appealing elegance unique among this lineup of wines. This wine will match much better with food than several of the heavyweight cult wines tasted because of its lively acidity. Reviewed August 19, 2008 ARTICLE »

2004 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 60 cases. Aged in 100% new French oak. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Aromas of oak spice, wood shavings and conifer. Tasty core of black cherry fruit with a complimentary hint of oak. Well-structured and still showing some fine-grain tannin, finishing dry with a tart cherry flourish. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2004 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 180 cases, $50. Sourced from Summa and Joya vineyards. Aged in 50% new French oak barrels. · This wine has a gorgeous nose of crushed plums, cherries and baking spices. A elegant Pinot lover's wine, it is beautifully composed with a silky mouth feel and a lively kick of acid on the pleasing finish which features cherries, mushrooms and a hint of oak. An extremely well-bred Saturday or Sunday wine. Reviewed June 12, 2006

2003 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 44 cases. Aged in 100% new French oak. · Very light garnet color in the glass. Brighter aromas of dark cherries and sandalwood. Elegant, but more body than the 2002 vintage, with pleasing flavors of red berries, cherries, pomegranates, and subtle oak. Fine-grain tannins and some length. Has peaked but will hold a few more years. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »

2002 Rivers-Marie Old Vines Summa Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., 44 cases. Aged in 100% new French oak. · Very light garnet color in the glass. Aromas of cherry, red berry, orange peel, leather and oak. Light and elegant flavors of red strawberries, blood oranges and a hint of oak with slight tannin and bright acidity. Holding, but fruit is beginning the downslope. Reviewed July 22, 2012 ARTICLE »