Walking the rows of fermentation tanks at the Mending Wall winery, the first impression is a sense of meticulous order that is borderline sterile. It’s unnerving at first. Sauce and I are standing in this enormous space holding glasses that contain a few splashes of Stone on Stone and our breaths come a little shorter. Our gazes shift from tank to floor to expansive rafters back to tank then floor…our reflections stare back from either of these…then back to the wine in our glasses and then our eyes meet. I’m thinking that I should have made the bed this morning and maybe I could have pressed a shirt for Sauce. My mind starts making it’s way down a to-do list of things I have done only half-way or half-heartedly – it’s one part accomplishment and two parts failure with a dash of try again. Just before I get to the part where I hyperventilate and start rethinking my career path I’m snapped back into the moment where Sauce is saying something to me about the wine…
Ah yes, we’re here for the wine – not for a regressive therapy session of self reflection. Going deeper into this realm of wine greatness, we arrive in a barrel room that is stacked with the wines we’ve always wished for. It’s here that the calm that lies beneath the powerful perfectionism is revealed. A great sense of “anything is possible” fills the space that comes into focus as a blank canvas ready to become a masterpiece. Self-consciousness subsides and I’m able to take part in a wine experience that flirts with the idea that creativity, genius, and methodical precision can come together for a common cause. So this is Thomas Rivers Brown.
If our count is correct, Robert Parker has awarded 100 points to a Thomas Rivers Brown wines 8 times in the past 10 years. Wine Spectator has given him the 100 point high-five 2 times. With recognition like this, most people would have an ego to match, but it seems that Thomas maintains a certain sense of modesty about his wines. He expresses a genuine appreciation for the mystery of the vine and a deference to what nature provides. Seeing wine as a product of place, he cultivates his relationships with the vineyard sites he works with and matches the wine to the site. He has seen much success from his patient and persistent practice in both Napa and Sonoma on sites such as Beckstoffer’s To-Kalon vineyard with Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay from B.Theriot and Pinot Noir from Summa and Boars’ View both on the extreme Sonoma Coast. We can only assume that there is a certain sense of satisfaction with the wines that have resulted from his work here, yet there is a continuing desire that drives Thomas to continue his search for another challenge.
What could challenge an incredible talent like Thomas Rivers Brown? Perhaps it will be to seek out new vineyards – cooler climates – unexplored territory. To continue his relationship with the land by matching grape to location to style. To discover a deeper intuition with his craft. And possibly to turn focus to his own label, Rivers-Marie, where he seeks to fine tune the tension between size and surreptitiousness. Wherever and whatever his discoveries may be, we are confident that the final result will end up swirling in our glasses, showcasing in our gallery, and stealing our hearts.
Pull up a chair and read more….
For a better BLOG on Thomas Rivers Brown: The Terroirist
Winemaker of the Year 2012: Food and Wine
Just more of us… www.tiffandsauce.com
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