Radio-Coteau: New Spring Releases 2010

Radio-CoteauDuring a recent visit to Russian River Valley we met up with Radio-Coteau winegrower, Eric Sussman to taste his new releases for Spring 2010. Our timing was perfect as Eric was about finished bottling his wines, and we were ready to enjoy them. Readers will recall that last year in January we reported enthusiastically on Radio Coteau’s 2009 Spring releases. This year we are no less enthusiastic.

Eric Sussman is a talented winemaker who makes high quality, handcrafted wines in small quantities.  He sources his grapes from low-yielding organic and biodynamic vineyards such as Benziger’s Sonoma Coast vineyards and uses native yeasts in conducting his primary fermentation. Eric has made wine in Burgundy and in California with Bonny Doon and later at Dehlinger before launching his own winery in 2002.

The wines reviewed here are outstanding examples of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah winemaking. Most the wines are from the difficult 2008 vintage, which saw poor fruit set due to late frosts, resulting in 30-40% reductions in yields in some vineyards.

County Line Rosé
2009 Single Vineyard Elke Home Ranch, Anderson Valley ($18) 88

County Line Rosé This Pinot Rosé produced from a Champagne clone of Pinot Noir was whole cluster-pressed and 100% barrel fermented in neutral oak. It displays fragrant white peach and cherry aromas with flavors of delicate dried cherry, mineral notes, and excellent acidity through to the finish. County Line is Radio Coteau’s second label.

Radio Coteau 2008 Savoy Chardonnay Anderson Valley ($48) barrel sample

The Savoy Chardonnay is barrel fermented in 40% new oak with native yeasts and aged sur lie for about 12 months. Yellow gold in color, it reveals ripe aromas of tropical fruit and minerals with a creamy mouth feel, excellent acidity and a long finish. We are looking forward to tasting this wine in bottle. Production: 248 cases

Radio Coteau 2008 Pinot Noir La Neblina Sonoma Coast ($42) 91-93

La NeblinaRuby garnet in hue, this lovely Pinot Noir is sourced from several Sonoma Coast vineyards. This Pinot Noir spends 15 months in 40% new French oak and undergoes a slow secondary fermentation that enhances the complexity of flavors. The result is a wine which is light and delicate in character offering a fragrant red berry fruit nose and fresh crisp mouth feel with medium acidity and cherry fruit and earth flavors. This wine had been bottled just a week when we tasted it, which explains the score range. It will be released to the public in April 2010. Production: 1388 cases

Radio Coteau 2008 Pinot Noir Alberigi Russian River Valley ($50) 92

The Alberigi Pinot Noir from the 2.5 acre vineyard of the same name has a medium ruby hue with aromas of plum, leather, spice and loam. It is a big shouldered wine, somewhat backward at this stage of development, and in need of a couple of years of cellaring. The palate shows excellent depth with lush cherry and earth flavors and firm tannins. This is a wine that can easily be aged 6+ years. Production: 326 cases

Radio Coteau 2008 Pinot Noir
Terra Neuma Sonoma Coast—Demeter Certified Biodynamic ($50) 91-92

The Pinot Noir Terra Neuma is sourced from Benziger’s Demeter-certified biodynamic vineyards along the True Sonoma Coast just three miles from the ocean. High winds and low temperatures lead to heavy shatter—young berries falling off the vine—and low yields of small ripe berries with a good skin to juice ratio. The wine exudes aromas and flavors of ripe raspberry liqueur and black cherry fruit. This elegant wine is beautifully balanced with excellent purity and acidity, and a long lush finish.

Radio Coteau 2008 Syrah Las Colinas Sonoma Coast ($38) 92-93

This Syrah displays ripe pure blueberry fruit aromas with hints of black pepper and violets on the nose. On the palate it is reveals a velvety smooth texture, rich and concentrated pure fruit, and excellent acidity and balance. The wine is beautifully focused with perfect integration of oak, resulting from fermentation in open top tanks and aging in barrel.

Written by Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler, March 2010