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2008 Rivers-Marie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir $25 [3]
2008 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir $45 [3]
2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir $45 [3]
2008 Rivers-Marie Summa Old Vines Pinot Noir $60 [3]
2008 Rivers-Marie B. Thieriot Vineyard Chardonnay $45 [2]
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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 Vineyard 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.

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