2002-2010 Rivers Marie Summa Old Vines Magnum Vertical with TRB and recently released 2010 Lineup

I’ve wanted to do a Rivers Marie Summa OV vertical for sometime and we finally got the opportunity last night. Thomas Rivers Brown and Will Segui of Rivers Marie made the trek to Sacramento last night with 9 vintages of Summa Old Vines and the whole 2010 lineup which was released just a few days ago. The event was held at the historic Elks Tower Penthouse in downtown Sacramento, the perfect venue for such a grand event. I would like to personally thank Thomas for making the trek and supplying all the wines for this event. Also would like to thanks Michael Chandler of Rail Bridge Cellars for organizing the venue and food.

We started with the whole 2010 lineup which was just released this past Tuesday. The chardonnay seems to get better every year for my tastes. Half new oak, full malolactic and all natural acid. Full rich mouth presence with lemon custard, yellow citrus fruit and fresh bracing acidity. After the chard was the famous qpr year in and year out, Sonoma coast. Definitely on the riper side when compared to the other bottlings but such a nice pinot for sub $30. I can’t think of another domestic pinot that delivers so much for its price point. After these we then went to the Summa, Gioia and Occidental. I was excited to try the summa returning in 2010. The lightest of the three in this flight with the classic citrus peel orange and red fruit. The Gioia had a lovely middle palate richness with a fleshy texture and dense black cherry fruit. The Occidental has the classic blue pinot fruit, darkest of the bunch, the most concentrated and stacked with pinot sap.

We then moved onto the main event…

Thomas mentioned that he did this Summa OV vertical a week ago out of 750ml. He thought that he didn’t give the wines last week a long enough decant so he made sure that the mags we were drinking tonight saw a good amount of air time.

Flight #1 (02/03/04)
The 2002 Summa OV seemed to have the most bricking on the edges when compared to the others in this flight. Warm nose of earth and dark cherry. Palate has a decent amount of ripeness and freshness with pinot sap. Ready to go and drinking nicely now, doesn’t really see it getting any better. The 03 was a warm vintage overall and had some big heat spikes towards the end which didn’t hit the pinot as most of it was in by then. The lowest alcohol of this flight 13.5%. Gorgeous nose of red fruit, strawberry with some piney and citrus peel. Palate is what stole the show for me. Crazy delicate and even with great concentration and density. Seems almost weightless in the mouth with flavors that flow front to back. Lovely, silky and fresh, drinking great now. The 04 was a head scratcher for me and seems to need more time. Darkest of the flight, nose was a bit closed at first but it started to give off maybe a bit of reduction. More of the black and blue fruit profile with some tar like notes. Palate was pretty locked up but gave off a bit of the darker fruits and maybe some creosote. Thomas mentioned that he thinks it needs more time and I would have to agree.

Flight #2 (05/06/07)
I have never had the 2005 and was very excited to try it. There was rain at flowering which led to a super small crop this year, somewhere around 200 pounds per acre. Only a quarter barrel was made, 50 or so bottles released to the mailing list. The magnums are even more rare, only a handful bottled with none released to the list. The 2005 was my favorite of the tasting and the best Rivers Marie pinot I have ever had. Nose is absolutely captivating silky, soft and gentle red fruits with a wonderful sappiness. Nose seems to have layers upon layers of red fruits, gentle oak toast, pine resin and black tea. It continues in the mouth with perfect balance and even more layers of gorgeous bottle sweet red fruits, rolling tobacco and warm woody elements. Glossy texture with a nice acidic backbone, integrated tannins, weightless sensation but stacked with some good fruit, richness and structure. This is really something special; I plan on holding my lone bottle a bit more. The 2006 seemed similar in character to the 2004. Deep and dark on the nose which seemed a bit closed at first. Fruit trended more towards the black side of the spectrum with some noticeable oak on the nose. Dense and dark on the palate which seems quiet and not giving off much, might need some more time like the 2004. I was also excited to try the 2007 as I haven’t had it since release. The whole 2007 lineup IMO, still needs time as it is the most structured and concentrated vintage out of the bunch at this stage. The nose is loaded with raw and powerful red fruits, baking spice with the signature summa citrus note. Dense, layered and ripe palate with great structure, acid and fruit warrant some serious ageing with this wine. This is definitely a few years off, needs time but tons of promise here, should be fun to watch over the years.

Flight #3 (08/09/10)
As we got into the more recent vintages, the wines gained some similarity. The 2008 had the dark and cool nose. Black and red fruits, seems rich and weighty on the nose with some wood and spice. I really like the cool almost menthol blue fruit profile mixed with some red that is going on here. A lovely rich and silky mouthfeel with some light tannins that are nicely integrated. Sappy texture continues towards the back, nice concentration. I had the 2009 out of magnum a year or so ago, it was fun to see where this was going. Nose is full of the tart cranberry red fruits with some pretty good levels of ripeness and tartness. Palate isn’t as full and rich as the 2008, not as weighty but still has loads of fresh acid tart red fruits, bit of oak toast, pinot spice and some sappiness. I really like the weight and fleshiness of the 2009, great stuff. We capped off the evening with the 2010 which wasn’t served from magnum, two 750ml bottles decanted together and then poured back in the bottle. Soft delicate nose that seems to gain in the glass. Dark red fruit profile that was a bit shy for most of the night. Lovely mouthfeel with a more pronounced acid streak and tannin structure with the fruit hiding, this is clearly going to need some time.

I really like all of the Rivers Marie wines and it was fun to see how their flagship Summa Old Vines has been ageing through the years. All the wines have natural acidity and do not seem “pillowy” or “best drunk within a year of release” [drinkers.gif]

The Wines

The spectacular views of Sacramento from the 14th floor penthouse suite

The crew, Glenn, Cris, me, Will & Rick

While personally a brutal visit to Sacto for my family this was a really excellent event organized by Tyler, kudos and well done man. Thomas was magnanimous with his beautiful library wines and this generosity was genuinely appreciated.

2010 Chardonnay is truly excellent and makes me glad I get a few each vintage. Clearly this wine is dialed in now and it will be fun to see how they age in the future. All the 10 PN wines showed well except the Occidental Ridge, which likely simply needs more time to unwrap its gifts. Loved, I mean loved, the 2010 Summa - stems! - and really liked the light touch exhibited by the Gioia Vineyard wine. Year-in, year-out if there is a better entry-level domestic Pinot than R-M SC somebody please PM me.

Tyler gives a great wrap-up of the Summa Old Vines en Magnum we all got to experience last night. I loved the 2005 and it truly had a nose I found satisfying in a way reminiscent of the olfactory satisfaction fine Scotch can provide. This wine almost made me forget about the ER visit! The 2002, 03 and 08 were other highlights, though all for different reasons. I wish we got to stay longer so I could learn why the 2010 SOV is such an outlier style-wise.

Fun to meet a few folks and see old friends, though Mel & I were really emotionally wasted by the time we arrived. Always nice to share face-to-face thoughts about wine, producers and the nature of this forum - good to find out I’m not the crazy one!

Tyler, great write up!

very nice - your notes very closely mirror my own for our tasting a week ago. Of course, our’s were from 750s, so apparently TRB and Will like you guys better…

(that was a joke, just in case it’s not painfull obvious!) :smiley:

You guys suck.

Cris will travel to any offline anywhere in CA. flirtysmile flirtysmile

Tyler, a very well done report. These wines have many fans. I’d not realized the '05 Old Vines was released. I think I heard about 50-some bottles produced, but had assumed all were retained by R-M. As I read your report, it reminded me of that thread from about January 3rd, where people reported what wines they had already bought this year, just 3 days into the year. What an amazing thread, with an astonishing variety of wines selected by board members. Very cool, that degree of diversity, IMO. Thanks for your report.

If I remember correctly what Thomas said, I think you are correct and it was not released. It was only 200 pounds of grapes. It showed very well. I’ll try and type up my notes soon.

Thanks for arranging this Tyler.

sounds like a great night. I still have most of my rivers marie still in storage in Los Angeles (now i am in No Cal) - does make it easier to let them rest!

Terrific report!

Thanks for the great notes. I’m certainly glad I hit the all-in button for the offer now.

Terrific write up, Rico! Nice pictures from Christy also. Here is mine from CT and I will see what pics I have that are not redundant to those.

RIVERS MARIE SUMMA OLD VINES VERTICAL - Elks Tower Penthouse, Sacramento, CA (1/21/2012)

A fabulous event in a fabulous location. Thomas Rivers Brown brought us vertical of Summa Old Vine Pinots in magnum to check in on them and see how they stack up to each other. This included the ultra rare 2005, one of only six ever made on top of the mere ~54 750’s. He also brought along the 2010 lineup for a preview. BJ Segui came down with him and Tyler Rico set us up in the penthouse of the Elks Tower in downtown Sacramento. Great views and terrific old time feel made for an outstanding venue. It was also nice to see some old friends, put faces to names and make some new friends.

The 2010 lineup featured wines of prominent acidity with fruit on the lean side. The Chardonnay along with the Occidental Ridge and Summa Old Vine Pinots were particularly noticeable in contrast to previous vintages of the wines. Especially the Occidental Ridge which I have always regarded as have up front, rich fruit from day one in past vintages. The 2010 was a hard turn in another direction for that fruit source. The Sonoma Coast was again very impressive at the price point at which I think it has established itself as one the very best values from California. It is just a damn good wine period.

Of the vertical the 2003 was certainly a stand out for a mature wine. I also think the 2007 could be excellent but will take longer to get there than the 2003 has. I also found the 2002 to be quite good which broke the pattern of odd versus even vintages in terms of showing well. The 2005 was also quite nice. The 2004, 2006 and 2008 were not showing real well. Of those I think the 2006 will come around and be a nice wine in a few more years.

So happy I could take part in this and the after party around the corner. Just a fabulous event all around. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and who made it enjoyable.


  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay B. Thieriot Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Nose of cotton candy and lemon meringue. Fresh and lean palate. Lacks richness in the good way maybe even a bit hard. Lingering creamy after taste. I haven’t had many Cali Chards like this but I hope to have more.
  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Silver Eagle Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Nose is a bit reduced with a note of iron. Juicy with a nice moutfeel. Dark and rich in reserve but somewhat rough at the finish. Not distinctive.
  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Reserved yet floral nose. Very expressive on the palate where the nose wasn’t. Flavors of cranberry and fruit skins. Clean and focused. Not big or even really primary tasting at this point. Very nice. A huge bargain.

  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Summa Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    10% whole cluster. Expressive nose, very herbal with leafy and stemmy notes. Fresh with lengthy acids. Lean and a bit bitter at the finish. Cranberry and greenish notes. The stem inclusion was quite noticeable but not overpowering. There is a ton of fruit to soak it up either. I imagine as they mellow this will be very nice.
  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Gioia Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Sweet nose with burnt caramel, cake and matchstick aromas. Juicy and fresh but with a somewhat cleft finish. This was all over the place.
  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Occidental Ridge Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Sweet, reserved nose. Juicy and somewhat tart. VERY lean as the Occidentals go. Quite the departure from previous vintages where this has been one of the bigger bottlings in the lineup. I’ll be interested to see if they remain so going forward.

Summa Old Vines - Flight #1

  • 2002 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Subtle nose giving mineral notes along with citrus and cranberry. Juicy yet focused with a lean feel. Nice secondary characters lending complexity. Very nice.
  • 2003 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Sweet smelling nose. Delicate and complex palate. Crunchy acids behind a light mouth feel. Terrific length. Excellent. Probably my WOTN.
  • 2004 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Dark fruited. Nose shows tarry, reductive like notes. Very juicy with tart fruited flavors and notes of apple. Light tannin. Hard to tell if this could get better or if it already saw its best days.

Summa Old Vines - Flight #2

  • 2005 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    As rare as they come. Complex nose though a mit muddled. Notes of herbs, brown sugar and apples. There is a strong sense of cran-orange flavor on a clean palate. Long tart acids making the finish interestingly bright. Over shadowed by the 03 and 02 for me but a nice wine in it’s own right.
  • 2006 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Funky, ripe nose with notes of tar and blackberry. Still funky on the palate but fairly wrapped up and tight. Leave it be.
  • 2007 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Lots of color. Soft nose of primary sweet cherry. Reserved with clean black cherries. Very nice mouth feel and excellent structure in tannin and acid. Reserved and in need of plenty of time. Could be outstanding.

Summa Old Vines - Flight #3

  • 2008 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Reserved yet pretty fruit with a bit of heat. Rich cran-apple fruit with skin tones. Tart with tannin though chunky and a bit clipped. Doesn’t show the class of the rest of the lineup.
  • 2009 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Stemmy, fruit skin and brush like tart notes. Rich fruit and a tart finish. Seems balanced but in dire need of integrating and the fruit and finish are from two different worlds at the moment. Tart and tight with a nice black cherry note towards the finish. Leave it be for a bit.
  • 2010 Rivers-Marie Pinot Noir Old Vines Summa - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Tight, minerally nose. Juicy black cherries with mouth cleaning acids. Prominent acidity and lean feeling wines seems to be the theme of the 2010 show. This needs to awaken some but I’m not certain the fruit concentration is here for something long lived in terms of development. Should be very nice in a shorter window.

Posted from CellarTracker

This thread has me salivating with jealousy. Awesome lineup and venue, great job.

At the top of the stairs

Where it went down.

One of several great views.

The gallery.

Cool pics Cris.

Love the penthouse, probably one of my favorite wine tasting spots in sac.