Complex Anderson Valley Pinot Noir in a Traditional Style

Today’s Story: Radio-Coteau

I wrote about Radio-Coteau a short six days ago, however I was so pleasantly taken aback by the 2011 Las Colinas Syrah I ventured out to pick up a bottle of their Pinot Noir. If you read the backstory on Radio-Coteau in my last post, feel free to skip the next paragraph and jump right into today’s tasting notes.

Radio-Coteau is somewhat of a cult winery (though not in the sense many people use the term nowadays) established by winemaker Eric Sussman in 2002. Though the winery is situated in Sebastopol and Eric owns a ridgetop estate vineyard above the town of Occidental, he also sources fruit from vineyards throughout the cooler climates of the northern coast within western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Eric brings his impressive history with wine to Radio-Coteau, one that includes stints in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the 1995 vintage in Pauillac on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, and the 1996 vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Comte Armand of Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur of Meursault. It was in France when Eric first heard the term “radio-coteau,” which means “word of mouth” or literally “broadcasting from the hillside.” Coupled with his flair for Old World style wines, Eric named his winery after this phrase to signify both a tight-knit community mindset as well as his wines being a true representation of the terroir. Working extensively with organic and biodynamic viticulture in well-drained marine soils, Eric produces refined examples of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

Once again, I do recommend a visit to the winery’s interactive website here.

Today’s Wine: 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir

100% Pinot Noir; 14.1% ABV

The 2010 Savoy Pinot Noir is medium to deep garnet in color. Given 45 minutes or so to blossom in the glass, this showcases pronounced intensity with aromas of black cherry, black raspberry, stemmy wild strawberry, red rose petal, black olive, leather, forest floor/wet leaves, dried green herbs, mint, clove, and cinnamon. Meanwhile on the palate I get equally complex flavors with pronounced intensity, with notes of black cherry, plum, pomegranate, red rose, tobacco, forest floor, earthy mushroom, grilled herbs, cracked green peppercorn, clove, and charred oak. This dry red is medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium (-) tannins, high alcohol, and a long finish. This is very Burgundian but the ripeness of the California fruit does shine through. While the alcohol doesn’t show heat per se, the body is certainly boosted by it. 462 cases produced.

Price: $75. This is getting up there in price for Cali Pinot, however I think it does deserve to fight up alongside the “big boys” of cult Pinot Noirs that sell for $100-125. While there are no doubt better value plays closer to $50, I would buy this again.

Finessed Old World Style Syrah From California’s Sonoma Coast

Today’s Story: Radio-Coteau

Radio-Coteau is somewhat of a cult winery (though not in the sense many people use the term nowadays) established by winemaker Eric Sussman in 2002. Though the winery is situated in Sebastopol and Eric owns a ridgetop estate vineyard above the town of Occidental, he also sources fruit from vineyards throughout the cooler climates of the northern coast within western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. Eric brings his impressive history with wine to Radio-Coteau, one that includes stints in Washington’s Yakima Valley, the 1995 vintage in Pauillac on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, and the 1996 vintage in Burgundy at Domaine Comte Armand of Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur of Meursault. It was in France when Eric first heard the term “radio-coteau,” which means “word of mouth” or literally “broadcasting from the hillside.” Coupled with his flair for Old World style wines, Eric named his winery after this phrase to signify both a tight-knit community mindset as well as his wines being a true representation of the terroir. Working extensively with organic and biodynamic viticulture in well-drained and marine soils, Eric produces refined examples of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Zinfandel.

For more on Radio-Coteau, I suggest visiting the extensive website here. There are some very interactive maps of the vineyards, and fantastic photos that also show the livestock and gardens living on the estate site.

Today’s Wine: 2011 Las Colinas Syrah

100% Syrah; 13.3% ABV

The 2011 Las Colinas Syrah is opaque medium purple in color. This was firing on all cylinders as a pop-and-pour, so I simply let it evolve in the glass in lieu of decanting. The aromas leap out of the glass with pronounced intensity, offering up red plum, cherry, blackberry, dried violet, cigar box, licorice, gamey meat, dried underbrush, smoke, scorched earth, and clove. Meanwhile the palate is equally intense with notes of black plum, black cherry, blueberry, violet, tobacco, dried herbs, slate, black pepper, chalky mineral, mild chocolate, and baking spice. This dry Sonoma Coast Syrah is medium- to full-bodied with medium acidity, medium but refined tannins, medium alcohol, and a long finish. This is as Old World as it gets for California, and is certainly one of the most elegant Cali Syrah’s I’ve had to date. 330 cases produced.

Price: $50. I think I’m on a value streak lately because this Syrah is absolutely worth its price and can even strike up there with high-quality Northern Rhône bottlings. This is perhaps the most elegant and finessed California Syrah I’ve tasted for the price-point and is deliciously chuggable. Well done.