Buying Wine

A Visit to Rivers-Marie

In early August we visited Rivers-Marie Winery in Calistoga. This was my first visit to the new facility. We were greeted in the parking lot by Thomas Rivers Brown which was a complete surprise and super cool. After chatting with TRB briefly, Frank Ingriselli, the Hospitality Director showed us into the winery where we would do a sit down tasting.

The facility itself is marvelous and the attention to detail is impressive. The tasting experience at some Napa wineries can be a little over the top but Rivers-Marie is both classy and understated at the same time.

We tasted through a flight of five wines. The 2020 Platt Vineyard Chardonnay was served first followed by barrel samples of the 2021 Summa Vineyard Pinot Noir and 2021 Bodega Thieriot Vineyard Pinot Noir. We concluded with the 2019 Panek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon and 2019 Herb Lamb Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. I did not take detailed notes but each wine was in the 95+ point range with exception of the Summa Pinot Noir which was 93-95. The Platt Vineyard Chardonnay and the Bodega Thieriot Vineyard Pinot Noir were the real highlights and I before I left I had ordered more to include with my Fall shipment.

If you have read Zinfandel Chronicles long enough you know that Rivers-Marie is one of my “ride or die” mailing lists and this tasting experience only cemented that even more. What is crazy to me is the the mailing list at Rivers-Marie is still open and that you can just schedule a tasting and walk away with world class wines.

The Chardonnay program at Rivers-Marie compares favorably with the likes of Aubert and Kongsgaard. I’d say the same about the Pinot Noirs compared to other Pinots that might have a little more cache like Williams Selyem and Kosta Browne. The Cabernets are every bit as good as most anything being made in Napa but are in all likelihood a fraction of the price. It is astounding to me that collectors will sit on waiting lists for the latest and greatest Napa Cabernet Sauvignon when they could literally just sign up at Rivers-Marie and receive an allocation. Of course the same can be said for the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

In my own self interest I suppose all this is good and I can look forward to receiving a healthy allocation in the years to come. If you haven’t had a chance to taste at Rivers-Marie I could not recommend it more highly.

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