Alban Vineyards is the first America winery and vineyard established exclusively for Rhone varieties. Conceived at a time when there were virtually only two "flavors" of wine produced in the U.S., they set out to introduce wine grapes that would offer oenephiles a new world of possibilities. Pioneering Roussanne, Grenache Noir and Viognier to go along with meticulously selected clones of Syrah, Alban Vineyards has guided consumers and producers to the enormous potential of Rhone varietals in California.
Released this fall, after having spent 43 months in barrel. It is a great vintage for this winery, and fortunately there are decent quantities available, since 2006 was a far more abundant vintage than the three very tiny crop years of 2007, 2008, and 2009. The Syrahs of 2007 are again extraordinary. I am sure they will continue to become more concentrated and put on weight as they spend more time in barrel. The 2008s won't be released for another few years, so I will only give some brief comments. To reiterate, there is no 2008 Seymour's, and production is even smaller at Alban in 2008 than it was in 2007. I tasted through barrel samples of the 2009 Grenache, Mourvedre, and several Syrah cuvees, and this appears to be a flamboyant vintagewith big fruit, lots of ripeness, heady alcohol, and a soft, luscious, upfront style. The 2009s will be even more flattering and charming than the 2008s. Rhone Ranger pioneer John Alban was one of the very first to recognize the potential of France's Rhone Valley grapes planted on California's Central Coast. He is essentially the lone wolf in the Edna Valley, so Alban sits at the summit of quality in this region. His wines are probably the most concentrated wines of all the major wines reviewed in this report, but there is much more to them than just pure brute concentration. These are wines with extraordinary aging potential. Going through the 1999s and 2000s that I had purchased from Alban, they are still incredibly young wines, and I think it's safe to say, these are probably among the longest-lived Rhone Ranger wines being produced in California.
"A luxurious style, rich, layered and dramatic, yet stays stylishly textured and balanced, offering a fleshy core of deep blackberry, wild berry and plum, with shades of tar, mineral, pepper and sage. Drink now through 2022."
"The 2006 Syrah Reva, coming from parcels of dark, volcanic soil, has off-the-chart richness and intensity. This thick, opaque-purple colored wine offers up notes of scorched earth, ground pepper, and blackberry liqueur intermixed with cassis, licorice, camphor, and tar. The wine is spectacular in every sense. Full-bodied and certainly not for wimps, this is a remarkably concentrated yet very nuanced and intense wine that should age for 20 more years."
"Glass-staining purple. Blackberry, boysenberry and licorice pastille on the nose, with mounting spice and floral notes and a strong wallop of cracked pepper. Deeply pitched black and blue fruit flavors expand with air and pick up strong spicecake and candied flower notes, along with velvety tannins. More backward than the Lorraine today, and showing a darker profile. The finish completely stains the palate and lingers with intense floral and spicy persistence. This is still a baby.”
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