Home > Handpicked > 2012 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir Alberigi

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Included As One Of Robert Parker’s “World Class Wineries”

Single Vineyard Greatness From Radio-Coteau

2012 is a definite buy vintage. The wines are the finest we have seen since 2007. Radio-Coteau and owner winemaker Eric Sussman make some of the greatest expressions of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay made in California today. When it comes to North Coast Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers was included in the list of ‘world class producers: Aubert, DuMOL, Hartford Court, Marcassin, Martinelli, Morlet Family Vinyards, Paul Hobbs, Peter Michael, Radio-Coteau, Rochioli. Sussman’s greatest Pinot Noir is the 2012 Radio-Coteau Pinot Noir ‘Alberigi’ form the Russian River and we have been able to secure a tiny allocation to offer. This is hard core Cult Pinot of the highest order. The Alberigi Vineyard is sourced exclusively by Coteau. Sussman fell in love with the fruit while working as assistant Winemaker at Dehlinger. This will be a fast mover.

“The following California wineries* could be called up-and-coming, although some of them have already attained stardom. There are others I could include, but the most interesting characteristic of these producers is that, with several exceptions, none were making wine in 1990!” — Robert Parker: Radio Coteau Winery.

*North Coast, for Pinot Noir & Chardonnay: Aubert, DuMOL, Hartford Court, Marcassin, Martinelli, Morlet Family Vinyards, Paul Hobbs, Peter Michael, Radio-Coteau, Rochioli.

“Radio-Coteau practices sustainable farming and hands-off winemaking, which includes native fermentations, minimal rackings and bottling without fining or filtration. What ultimately counts, though, is what is in the bottle, and more often than not, these are compelling wines that deserve serious attention.” – Antonio Galloni

From Owner & Winemaker Eric Sussman : “In 2012 Mother Nature gave us a relieving break from the dramatic 2010 and 2011 vintages, and we had near-idyllic growing conditions. Spring provided a healthy fruit set, a mellow summer allowed fruit extended hang-time, and a fairly dry fall kept mildew pressure at bay. These elements allowed us to strike that harmonious, yet often elusive, balance of keeping just enough fruit on the vine while maintaining richness, intensity, and verve. We are proud of our coastal cool climate vineyard terroir, yet we work with sites that are more susceptible to harsh weather patterns, which can be difficult for later ripening varietals such as Syrah and Zinfandel. However, the growing degree days of 2012 mirrored the classic 2009 vintage, and the grapes across the varietals remained on the vines long enough to develop complexity. Though a few heat spells could have potentially pushed sugars up, we preferred to pick for flavor and phenolic development as opposed to higher brix. Most of the pinot was brought in before these temperature spikes, and we are pleased with the results. With a few new vineyard sites in 2012 and an abundant year, we were filled to the proverbial cellar brim. We practiced our minimalist approach in the winery by ensuring healthy vines and impeccable fruit in the vineyards, before it even reaches the cellar door. A keen eye kept on the vines, and painstakingly maintaining balance throughout the year, has graced us with exceptional wines, each expressing the personality of its unique growing site.”

Radio-Coteau is deservedly a true “cult” winery. A cult wine is one produced in very small quantities by a very skilled and experienced winegrower and winemaker, sold and tightly allocated often through a mailing list, distinguished by unique and special wines, and is known only to the most dedicated wine geeks. The name Radio-coteau was derived from the northern Rhone region of France. The colloquial meaning is “word of mouth,” but the literal translation is “broadcasting from the hillside.” Eric first heard this expression from a friend while living and working in Burgundy. It refers to a commitment to community, to growers found by word of mouth, tradition handed down in the cellar, and friends helping at harvest.

Eric developed an interest and passion for wine while studying agriculture at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, during the late eighties. Inspired by wine’s unique connection with its place of origin, he set out to work with and learn from world-class producers near and abroad. He ventured to Washington’s Yakima Valley where he spent several years managing the vines and cellar of a small artisan producer. He then moved on to France and spent the 1995 vintage in Burgundy at Comte Armand in Pommard and Domaine Jacques Prieur in Meursault. After returning to northern California, he worked one year at Bonny Doon and from 1988-2001 as the associate winemaker at Dehlinger. He then crossed paths with Bill and Joan Smith, former owners of La Jota, and current owners of W.H. Smith Wines. Together, they formed a partnership that became Radio-Coteau Wine Cellars.

The Russian River Valley climate is sculpted by the regular intrusion of cooling fog from the Pacific Ocean a few miles to the west. Much like the tide, it ebbs and flows through the Petaluma Wind Gap and the channel cut by the Russian River. The fog usually arrives in the evening, often dropping the temperature 35 to 40 degrees from its daytime high. The fog retreats to the ocean the following morning. This natural air-conditioning allows the grapes to develop full flavor maturity over an extended growing season — often 15 to 20 percent longer than neighboring areas — while retaining their life-giving natural acidity. In the heart of this AVA (American Viticultural Area) lies the Alberigi Vineyard – sourced exclusively by Radio-Coteau and farmed organically – on a stretch of Vine Hill Road renowned for its Goldridge soils. Working with this special site for 10 years, the 2012 marks a decade’s worth of learning about the vineyard’s nuance, terroir, and personality.

ric’s tasting notes: “The 2012 Alberigi is cherry red with bright clarity. Fresh red fruits dominate the nose but flowers and spice are quick to vie for attention as well. The floral quality is particularly interesting. There is a tension here that speaks of more to come. The aromas that are present now: cherry, mixed berries, fall forest, candied fruit and wildflowers are all wound very tight and just hinting at themselves. The palate is also tightly knit. It is lightweight and pure yet strong and energetic as well. The tannins are elegant and the acid is acute. Balance and harmony are the key words for Alberigi this year. Expect this wine to enter a sweet spot in a year or two and stay there for 6 to 8 more.”