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Lutea’s owner and winemaker is Suzanne Hagins, a South Carolina native who developed her interest in wine working in the Charleston restaurant scene for many years. She left South Carolina Burgundy in 1998 to work harvest under Pascal Marchand at Domaine Comte Armand, returning to the states to study at several wineries including De Loach and David Bruce.
Lutea is the name of the American lotus, a flower native to the southeast United States. The lotus seed is a very long-lived seed which in nature can lie dormant for hundreds of years and still blossom. Suzanne notes that it is a perfect symbol of potential and very suited as a name for wine.
Suzanne insists on sourcing grapes from organic and or biodynamically farmed vineyards in Northern California. Her winemaking begins in the vineyard at harvest where the grape clusters are carefully harvested using scissors (rather than knives which are often utilized by picking crews) to protect the delicate clusters. After de-stemming, there is a 3-5 day cold soak and fermentation proceeds over two weeks. Minimal sulfur is used - the wines always have less than 100ppm, the maximum total sulfur which is allowed for organically grown designated wines. I found that she has a nice woman’s touch with Pinot Noir and I especially welcome the sensible alcohol levels.
Lutea Wine Cellars address is 446 Orchard St, (Copain Custom Crush) in Santa Rosa. The wines are sold on the and through limited retail distribution. Tasting is by appointment (707-592-0568). Suzanne will soon be releasing her first vineyard designate Pinot Noir from Bybee Vineyard in Sebastopol. She was also the winemaker for B Vineyards & Habitat (Bybee Pinot Noir) through the 2006 vintage.
2009 Lutea Los Carneros Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $26. Organic grapes. · Moderately dark reddish-color in the glass. Enticing aromas of black cherry cobbler with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate malt. Delicious fruit core displaying bright flavors of black cherries and black raspberries with hints of dark chocolate. Nicely composed and balanced with well-mannered tannins and amazing persistence on the fruit-driven finish. Very good. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »
2009 Lutea Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $26. Organic grapes. 100% de-stemmed, cold soak, hand punch downs, gentle pressed, aged in French oak barrels, bottled unfined and unfiltered. · Dark color in the glass. Aromas of dried rose petals, brier and green garden. Dark red cherry and raspberry fruits with hints of cola, earth and green herbs. Some persistence on the fruit-filled finish that carries a grip of lively acidity. A green note runs through, seemingly from oak and/or under ripe fruit. Decent. Reviewed April 11, 2011 ARTICLE »
2006 Lutea Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 50 cases, (Fall release). The two best barrels in her cellar from B Vineyards & Habitat Vineyard. · This is clearly the most structured and tannic of Suzanne’s wines and will certainly hold up longer in the cellar. That said, it is a decadent wine packed with luscious dark red fruit that grows in the mouth. This is serious juice that will appeal to lovers of a hedonistic style of Pinot Noir. Reviewed July 7, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Lutea Sonoma County Pinot Noir
13.5% alc., 150 cases, $23. aged in 1-3 year old French oak barrels. · Pleasant perfume of black cherry, herbs, oak and smoke. Middleweighted bright cherry flavors with a refreshing and clean finish. A simple, straight-forward Pinot Noir that offers good casual drinking. Reviewed February 18, 2008 ARTICLE »
2006 Lutea Reserve Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., $50. Aged 15 months in French barrels. Unfined and unfiltered. · A beautiful perfume of Bing cherries, rose petals, cardamon spice and fig. Lovely and ornate cherry and berry core with a hint of citrus peel on the finish. Powerfully flavored with some grippy tannins to shed, but retaining an admirable elegance. This will benefit from a year in the cellar. I have been a fan of Lutea Pinot Noirs and this one continues to fuel my enthusiasm. Reviewed November 2, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Lutea Los Carneros Pinot Noir
13.8% alc., 150 cases, $35. Aged 10 months in 15% new oak. · Earthy, plumy, woodsy and floral on the nose with earthy dark fruits and some animale on the palate. Light on its feet and soft and seamless in texture. Reviewed February 18, 2008 ARTICLE »
2005 Lutea Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
13.9% alc., 150 cases, $35. Coopered in 20% new oak for 10 months. · This is the most structured and serious wine in the lineup that needs some coaxing to open up. Initially there are aromas of forest floor, mushrooms, oak and a little good funk. With air more sweet cherry notes emerge. Cherry-driven flavors dance on a silky texture and the finish is lively with good acidity. This wine shows great Russian River Valley typicality and should age nicely. Reviewed February 18, 2008 ARTICLE »