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ProducerRiverain (web)
VineyardCardiac Hill
SubRegionSonoma County
AppellationBennett Valley
OptionsShow variety and appellation

Drinking Windows and Values
Drinking window: not specified

Community Tasting History

Community Tasting Notes (average 93 pts. and median of 93 pts. in 11 notes) - hiding notes with no text

 Tasted by arthrovine on 3/3/2015: Pop'n' poured. Followed over 3 hours.

Should've decanted wine for 3-6 hours. Or waited 3-4 years. Nice acids which were refreshingly cool. Moderate tannin. Definite 'cool climate' profile here.

Edit: I forgot to say that I liked this wine and have full confidence it's going to morph into something terrific. A sip this morning revealed more going on and a hint of some of the benefits of air and aging. This wine is probably even better drunk the next day if consuming in the near term. 92++ points (620 views)
 Tasted by Mike Dildine on 1/21/2015 & rated 93 points: 12.8% abv. Dark ruby red. Spice and black fruit aromas. On the palate black cherry, smoke, black pepper. Nice mouthfeel, excellent depth and length. A fine effort from an outstanding vineyard and a cool vintage. Should continue to improve. (572 views)
 Tasted by Outplaying on 9/17/2014: This showed very well last night. Initially I thought it was more red fruited but as it opened the fruit turned darker, and seemed more black in tone. I think this is 30% (?) whole cluster and it showed with quite a bit of white/black pepper and some black olive accents. I really enjoy this cool climate style of Syrah with the dialed back ripeness and alcohol. (774 views)
 Tasted by Frank Murray III on 9/16/2014: The wine is showing good evolution forward. With about 90 mins of air, some good dark red and black fruit qualities, a weightier black cherry would be a good descriptor. Good presence of black pepper and black olive and still good structure and acidity. Lovely at this point with great color and only upside ahead. (1043 views)
 Tasted by Frank Murray III on 5/9/2014: Opened about 8 hours ago, allowed to sit with the cork inside, not decanted. At this stage, and with a light chill (as room temp is about 78), the wine shows distinct character. Cooked meat, roasted red cherry fruit and pepper. All of this through a crappy, heavy wine glass with a 2 inch bowl. Will be taking to dinner where I can hustle down a finer stem to really form an impression to complete my note....over dinner, this smoothed out and the tar came out, along with the olive and the fruit lends more towards black cherry. I think this is at it's best in 2 years, as that allows for the residual structure from the tannin to integrate. I enjoy the Northern Rhone quality of this vintage, the color, the acid and low alcohol. For me, that makes it stand up well. (1182 views)
 Tasted by Outplaying on 4/30/2014: This seemed like an appropriate bottle to open on an incredibly rainy day. There are rivers running through my yard. Popped the cork about an hour ago and the wine is still pretty tight. On the nose, I get some smoke, floral notes, tar and charcoal. On the palate, some tart black cherry, darker fruits, light black olive and as others have said, a rocky note. Shows the cool climate with good acidity, medium weight, and lower alc. Pretty smooth texture with lighter tannin. I have a little less than half a bottle for tomorrow. Pretty good now. We'll see what happens with some air. (792 views)
 Tasted by rstark on 4/18/2014 & rated 93 points: Poured for some major wine snobs that only like their Syrah "Rhone and Northern", but they were intrigued in seeing what Thomas Rivers Brown is doing with this grape. The wine was impressive out of the chute, with a great tar / graphite component that balanced very well with the very dark fruit. Plenty of extracted mouthfeel, but none of that over-the-top syrupy or alcohol thing that usually accompanies it. Very enjoyable, and after an hour, it really came together into something that I'll be looking forward to try 6 months from now. (806 views)
 Tasted by brigcampbell on 2/23/2014: Falltacular 2014 (FMIII in the OC): Quick addition to my comments from a year ago. Basically the same but an olive and tapenade note has emerged in the last year. Nice mineral structure as well. (971 views)
 Tasted by Frank Murray III on 2/19/2014: This is my 3rd bottle, with spacing of one year between this bottle and the last. Tonight, I was able to enjoy the wine over dinner, with the benefit of air working on the wine. When first opened, it was juicy and aromatic, and with air, it unwrapped nicely. In the last glass, the palate had filled in with blue fruit, charcoal, showing an aromatic quality of pepper and smoke. All taken together, the wine is juicy, representative of the vintage. I don't find oak or alcohol here, and labeled at 12.8%, it would be true to that #. This is very good and in the spectrum of syrah I enjoy now, with acid and blue fruit, showing some astringence still in the finish. I bought 2, will let the next bottle rest until 2015, and drink the last one by 2017. Good work here Steve and Thomas. (891 views)
 Tasted by brigcampbell on 2/17/2013: I was fortunate enough to be offered a pour from an unlabeled bottle when a guy in the corner whispered something and I turned to see Steve holding his first vintage of Syrah. This was recently bottled/shipped and he was nervous and excited at the same time. Hey, now I'm excited.

Color is very dark, nearly black with blue highlights flashing around in the glass in full sunlight. Nose composed of light floral, dark toast, cassis and blackberry. These are positive signs leading to my first taste. Lots of talk regarding balance these days and I'd use that descriptor here because of the equal weight of the various components. Dark fruit, mild stem notes, just a bit of garden herbs, and white pepper adding the spicy edge. Medium weight to the wine and tannins were lively. Finish is medium. Very enjoyable wine and Steve should be proud, no doubt. (815 views)
 Tasted by Frank Murray III on 2/5/2013: Bottle open 24 hours, sat under cork after last night's dinner, with about 1/4 left for tonight. I believe the alc on this is 12.8%, and there's no heat in this wine anywhere so that to me seems on target. Aromatically, this shows a real signature of black pepper, cool climate as Jim Mack's property is along Bennett Valley Road. Light whiff of purple flower, smoke and stem, as this contains about 1/3rd whole cluster, although it doesn't punctuate the wine as the pepper has that role here. The palate is flush with inky, dark fruit, which is similar to the wine's color--very dark, a glass stainer, like Switchback or Carlisle petite color. Yet, with the low alc, the fruit doesn't get ripe in tone. Instead, it's similar to some of the Copain stuff, where I find deep color and concentration, yet the fruit expresses an earthy character, like black cherry, dark berry that is without the sweet ripeness. A real inky expression of syrah. There is some light tannin and astringence that hangs over the fruit, although the texture is fairly smooth and pretty resolved. Black olive in the finish, along with some tar, garrigue (stems?) and a light rocky note. I'll give an ITB-like disclaimer, as I know the owner of this label well, and he's a close friend, and to disquiet any assertion I sweetened this note or jazzed it up, I flat out did not. I wrote my note as I found the wine, an inky, dark syrah that really shows a deep core of earthy, food friendly fruit with a nice balance and mineral in the finish. It paired dynamite with my pizza last night and is doing just great with no food tonight--just a laptop and a big 'ol Schott Zwiesel stem. For a drink window, now through 2015 would be my recommendation. Good on you, Steve. FWIW, this wine is made my Thomas Brown, who doesn't make syrah so it was cool to see how he crafted this up. (1017 views)

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Cardiac Hill

Cardiac Hill vineyard runs on a very steep hillside at an elevation ranging from 500 to 900 feet hence the peculiar but appropriate name. This north facing vineyard is 9.5 acres planted to four different clones of Syrah: Estrella River, 383,470 and 174. Spacing is 4x6 with a VSP trellising system and all vines are caned pruned. Crop thinning starts at one cluster per shoot before veraison and adjustments are made to crop load after veraison. Average tons per acre is 1.5-2.5 tons.


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California is one of the most diverse wine regions in the world, with almost 100 grape varieties grown in over 100 viticultural areas, including dozens of ­different microclimates and soil types, as well as a very individualistic set of ­winemakers, many with international experience, which adds to and deepens that diversity.

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