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Au Naturel Pinot Noirs


Eric Sussman is one of a growing band of producers using hand-picked grapes and organic yeast fermentation

Eric Sussman, who founded Radio-Coteau Wine Cellars in 2002, is one of a growing band of producers using a "natural" approach, including hand-picked grapes and organic yeast fermentation. Sussman made his mark growing a range of grapes along California's Russian River and Sonoma Coast. I'll focus on his two top Pinot Noir vintages—the warm, heady 2004s, which are soft and opulent, and the cool, Burgundy-like 2005s.

89 points, 2004 Pinot Noir Alberigi

This ruby-colored offering exhibits plenty of sweet strawberry and black cherry fruit, silky tannin, and a heady finish. It should be consumed over the next three to four years. $42

90 points, 2004 Pinot Noir Terra Neuma

From a vineyard in the Bodega Headlands on the Sonoma Coast, this is a spicy, earthy wine with outstanding richness. It should drink nicely for seven to eight years. $48

91 points, 2005 Pinot Noir La Neblina

This wine has a medium ruby hue, more body than the 2004, and sweet red and black fruits mixed with notes of minerality and apple skins. It is ideal for drinking over the next four to five years. $42

91 points, 2004 Pinot Noir Savoy

From the cool climes of the Anderson Valley, this wine possesses blueberry, black cherry, and earthy notes, terrific fruits, and nicely integrated tannin. This cuvée is a blend of the Martini, Pommard, and Dijon clones. $48.

92 points, 2005 Pinot Noir Alberigi

This dark-ruby-hued, medium- to full-bodied wine offers sweet plum, black cherry, gamey, floral, and forest-floor aromas. It is a complete, rich, intense Pinot to enjoy during its first five to eight years of life. $45

92 points, 2005 Pinot Noir Savoy

Displaying pure black raspberry, blueberry, and sweet black cherry characteristics, it is full-bodied and rich. This is one of the strongest efforts I have tasted from this Anderson Valley vineyard. Should evolve for up to a decade. $50

93 points, 2005 Pinot Noir Terra Neuma

Revealing superb potential, this wine has forest-floor, roasted herb, black cherry, plum, and spice-like aromas. It will benefit from one to two years of cellaring and should drink well for 10 years. $50

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Robert Parker is the world's most influential wine critic. Visit www.eRobertParker.com to see tens of thousands of tasting notes, buy his books, or subscribe to his newsletter, The Wine Advocate.

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