Tuesday, April 15, 2008

My New Career-Pouring the '06 R-M Pinots

I had the pleasure to quit my day job for an evening and pour Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir for Thomas Brown at the Maybach event in New York last night. While I had not previously considered a job as a professional wine pourer, I think that I have the skills and the drive necessary to reach the top of that avocation. Most people that pour wines have to also work in the cellars, cleaning, disinfecting, getting their hands dirty. They call them cellar rats, honestly, enough said. I, meanwhile, stay above the fray imparting wisdom as if on high. It is not an easy job, mind you. I had to listen to myself say the same thing over and over again for almost 2 hours. Anyone that has spent an evening with me can attest to how tedious that can be. Yet, I persevered my own pedantic ramblings on vineyard sites and pH to enjoy the interplay with the hoi polloi. After all, I feel like I owe it to them, poor souls that they are. They need my cool reassurance and guiding hand extended to pour the next glass and describe to them what they were tasting. How would they know otherwise? Would they know sassafras if it hit them over the head? I think not. So, I was forced to drink with them. I do acknowledge a certain lack of professionalism in that act, however, I felt that my flock needed a shepherd. I debased myself, yes, but on their behalf, wretched as they were, devoid of wine knowledge. What else could I do? I felt that I owed it to them and, I think, they left a little better for it.
  • 2006 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - Sonoma Coast - While this may be the entry level Pinot for R-M, it does not compromise stylistically. It is admirably structured without being angular and compares favorably to the wonderful '04 SC, although I didn't think it is as delicate. The fruit is a mixture of restrained red and purple fruit with some zingy cranberry as well. The fruit shows nice purity and is underined by a sharp acidity. Great restraint and percision. The temptation is going to be to open this early while you wait for the single vineyard bottlings, but that would be a mistake. This should unwind nicely over the next couple of years.
  • 2006 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard - Sonoma Coast - A beautiful wine representing the promise of the true Sonoma Coast; it was poised and elegant and you had the feeling it was exactly the type of wine that the grapes wanted it to be. The nose showed delicate and floral with red cherries, citrus and sassafras. The fruit is sweet and red in the mouth with silky tannins and a cross-current of acidity. There is some earthiness lingering in the background and I would expect that as this develops it will gain some foresty nuances that SC Pinots can provide. More than once it was described as Burgundian, but I think people were referring to the impeccable balance, as this wine is all California. This wine is going to require patience, but with pure fruit, tannic structure and high natural acidity, I expect that such forbearance will be amply rewarded.
  • 2006 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Willow Creek Vineyard - Sonoma Coast - A nice addition to the R-M stable. The nose was floral and tended to the darker side of red. The palate was a bit weightier than I expected given the delicacy of the aromatics and trended darker still. Very well built structurally, the fruit, while expressive, seemed to lack a bit of complexity, perhaps due to the relative youth of the vines. Nonetheless, it seems very easy-going and self-assured; there are no angles, yet it does not feel excessively polished either. Of all the wines, I think that this is the one I would drink first (the acidity seemed tucked in a bit better), although I'd be sure to keep one or two around for the long haul.

Take my word though, these wines should not be opened any time in the next couple of years. Decanting is not a proxy for bottle age and these are built to last. Patience, grasshopper!

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