Report from Napa Valley 2
Finishing up on my visit with winemaker Thomas Brown, after a day's posting hiatus. Following our run-through of the Outpost, we moved on to tasting his own Rivers-Marie wines (Thomas's middle name is Rivers; his charming wife Genevieve's middle name is Marie). Look for a write up of his 2005 Rivers-Marie Occidental Ridge Vineyard Pinot Noir ($42) in our April issue, but in the meantime if you can find his 2005 Rivers-Marie Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir ($35) anywhere, snap it up immediately. (In truth, you might as well just contact the winery directly and get on their mailing list; supplies on these wines are minimal, but they're good enough that I feel justified in mentioning them. I'll repay my karmic debt for recommending hard-to-find wines tomorrow. Really.)
In any case, this translucent, red cherry-colored Pinot has a lovely scent that sails right out of the glass: wild raspberries, anise, a hint of coffee. Firm, far-Sonoma Coast acidity gives it a lot of lift, and the intensity of flavor is impressive—similar to the aroma, in character, with a savory edge. The Summa Vineyard is out past the town of Occidental on Taylor Lane and is unsurprisingly cold; Thomas notes that they typically pick in late October. Williams Selyem first brought Summa to attention back in the late-eighties/early-nineties, I think partially because their bottling had the distinction of being the first American Pinot Noir to sell for $100 a bottle. For what that's worth, kudos to Thomas for not charging $100 a bottle, I say.