Alban Vineyards, 8575 Orcutt Road, Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
Phone: +1 805 546 0305 Fax: +1 805 546 98790
Alban is at the vanguard of the Rhône revolution that has been
sweeping through California’s diverse Central Coast region. With
an emphasis on varieties such as Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre,
Viognier and Roussanne, and vineyard site and practice, he’s
achieved remarkable success since he set up on his own in 1989.
Since the mid-1990s commentators agree that the wines have really
hit their stride, and this tasting of three 1997s suggested they
The two Syrahs are superb wines. You'd never confuse them with
Northern Rhône Syrah, but they are also miles apart from some of
the oaky, jammy interpretations of this grape common in the new
world. With their lush, ripe fruit and huge concentration, there's
plenty of complexity and the wines manage to walk a balanced line.
The oak, while apparent, is more than balanced by the intensity of
the fruit and good acidity, and you couldn't call them jammy or
over-ripe. The Viognier is also an interesting wine, although
I’d have probably chosen to drink this a year or two earlier.
Like most decent Californians, the UK availability of these
wines isn’t too good, but they are stocked by Everywine and also
The Wine Treasury, priced around £25 each.
Alban Estate Reva Syrah 1997, Edna Valley
An opaque red/purple colour, this is a very concentrated wine.
Lovely nose shows sweet liquoricey, herbal fruit with some
expressive floral and spicy notes. The palate is rich and dense,
showing complex sweet fruit and a spicy tang. With good acidity
and some structure lurking under the fruit, this is powerful yet
still quite expressive. The oak and fruit mesh brilliantly here.
Alban Estate Lorraine Syrah 1997, Edna Valley
Named after John’s wife, Lorraine. Opaque inky purple/red
colour with great concentration. Opulent, ripe, liquoricey nose
displays sweet fruit and cinnamon notes. The palate is powerful,
ripe and complex. It's sweeter and riper than the Reva. There's
some tannin here, but it is obscured by the super-ripe fruit.
There's a distinct spicy character to the finish, and despite its
size, it's still balanced. Two days later it is rich and porty,
with vanilla and spice from the oak showing more and some
interesting caramel/herby notes. Excellent
Alban Vineyards Viongier 1997, Central Coast
Full yellow/gold colour. Powerful, expressive nose with
lemony, peachy and herbal notes. Full, rich-textured palate with
herby, peachy fruit and a minty, lemony edge. It's obviously new
world, but with its bold expressive style it actually works quite
well. A striking wine. Very good/excellent