2016 Rivers-Marie, Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley.
Made by one of California’s most celebrated winemakers, Thomas Rivers Brown, who has made Schrader, Maybach Cellars, Outpost, Round Pond, ALOFT, and Kinsella, along with Turley, as well as many other luxury Napa Valley Cabernet(s), past and present, that have graced many covers of Wine Spectator, the Rivers-Marie is his own label. His celebrity status ensures a long waiting list of which makes for a hard get, and since his own wines are wonderfully affordable, especially in comparison to the elite brands he makes, even though they are extremely limited offerings. I got lucky and was able the grab a bottle of his 2016 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir from a friend on the mailing list, for which I’m forever grateful! Rivers-Marie, owned by Thomas Rivers Brown & Genevieve Marie Welsh, has a set of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and this one is a regional cuvee from the Anderson Valley, their first from this area, it has zero percent new oak, which, according to Brown, allows all the best attributes of the grape and the vintage to shine through, I tend to agree. Rivers-Marie also released a single vineyard Anderson Valley Pinot from the new hot spot Bearwallow Vineyard as well, it comes off younger vines and is slightly riper, while the Anderson Valley cuvee comes in at Burgundy like 13.8% natural alcohol and has a gripping presence in the glass. The nose here is serious, making one think of Anne Gros Richebourg with hints of bacon fat, dark fruits, mineral and spices that takes some time to open up to prettier tones with florals, the color is a deep garnet, which intrigues and leads to the firm and youthful palate. The Rivers-Marie Anderson Valley Pinot Noir is chewy and deeply flavored and has layers of black cherry, vine picked berries, plum and punchy currants, with an earthy fruit core as well as lifted spices, light oak notes and shows a nice cut of acidity, it’s a medium bodied Pinot that has should have a few more years in the cellar to fully develop, but that potential is clearly on display, adding depth and complexity with every minute of air it gets. A contrast of savory and stony notes expands the width here with flinty notes, wild mushrooms, black tea play opposing roles to the wilted rose, sweet tannin and the underlying opulence, there is a lot to admire here, though a more rewarding wine is certainly on the cards, patience should be the virtue you celebrate on this one, give this a 3 to 5 year rest if you can keep your hands off it, clearly I couldn’t, and I paid the price.
($45 Est.) 92-94 Points, grapelive

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