Californian wines guest starring on Wine Virtuosity! When Sweden’s leading US wine importer invites me to taste through his portfolio of exciting and dynamic names in California, I know it’s going to challenge the best from the rest of the world. And how they did it! Here’s to Californian greatness!
Meaning “word of mouth” but literally it is translated to “broadcasting from the hillside,” Radio-Coteau and its owner Eric Sussman produces wines from cool-climate coastal vineyard sites in Western Sonoma County and Anderson Valley. I guess many will react when tasting Eric’s wines, that it’s a different style when compared to many others in the region. At least that happened to me – in a positive sense.
Radio-Coteau works with extremely low usage of sulfur dioxide, natural fermentation, no fining or filtration and the vineyards are farmed either organic or the biodynamic way. Like it or not, the man is at least not standing on the rooftops shouting it out or using it as a sales argument, which in my world shows how it should be done: Decide yourself upon the methods, but never use them in your sales speech. A great wine don’t need it.
There are only a couple of hundred cases of the 2009 Savoy Anderson Valley Chardonnay. Sad, because this wine really shines and shows that cool character Chardonnay in the elegant and mineral driven style isn’t a trademark of Burgundy. Sure, some more tropical scents on the nose but it is the skillful use of oak, the wet rocks feel and the cool fruit that charms me. Such fine balance on the nose; peaches, unripe pineapples, wet rocks, a discrete floral scent, integrated oak and lime peel.
What acidity! Still beautifully balanced by the oak and the fruit resulting in a seductive texture with green apples, lime, peaches, wet rocks and fine toasted oak. A slight spice touch and a long pure finish. I. Need. More. Of. This.
The Virtuoso says:
Then there’s the 2010 La Neblina Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. A few more cases of this one. In 2010 Eric used only Pinot Noir from the Hallberg site, a vineyard on Goldridge soil. Harvested during night, the 2010 La Neblina could easily trick me if had blind. Cool climate nose with gorgeous red berries, especially wild strawberries, sweet-root, undervegetation and flowers, marigold more precisely. Then the humus and a gentle spicy scent, almost oriental. A sniff wine. I’m in love!
Best of all, the seductive nose is followed up on the palate! Again, cool red berries, humus and spices. Some leathery and compost like notes. Razor sharp acidity but so well wrapped in. Elegance all the way through a long finale. One of the greatest personal Pinot Noir discoveries this year. I. Need. More. Of. This.
The Virtuoso says:
And just to finish it all in grand style, there is the 2009 Timbervine Russian River Valley Syrah. Now we’re talking limited production; roughly 150 cases of this one. If the two previous showed Burgundy resemblance, Timbervine will make many Cote Rotie wines nervous. Eric is not copying the French regions in any way; considering the fact he worked at Comte Armand in Burgundy at an early stage of his career, it is understandable this probably made an impression on him.
The 2009 Timbervine also shows that cool fruit character. Blueberries and blackberries, oriental spices, dusty summer road, herbs provencale, violets and salami. Some serious tannin bite in this one. Considering how packed it is with fruit, it feels like a keeper. Meaty, tobacco, pepper and a slight green feel. Violets and vanilla. And then, in the finale, a long mineral driven and pure aftertaste. To sum this wine up in one word? Elegance. I. Need. More. Of. This.
The Virtuoso says:
My first Radio-Coteau wines. I tell you, it is for sure a name to keep an eye on, especially if you’re like me and have a weak spot for Chardonnay. Savoy is a great glass!
N.B. If you want to read more about the wines from California, then have a look at this guy’s site.