Saturday, March 13, 2010

Central Coast Viognier 2007 from Alban Vineyards

John Alban is one of the leading stars of the Central Coast. When he founded his estate Alban Vineyards and planted his first vineyards with Rhône varietals in the late 80s and early 90s, nobody really believed in him. The all said it was too cool in Edna Valley for these grapes, and that he for sure would fail. Now they all are of another opinion. Everybody admire him for his outstanding grapes in his 26.70 hectares of vineyards, and his wines belong to the most sought after in its style in California.
Thanks to the content of limestone in the soils, and the slightly cooler climate than most of the vineyards with Rhône varietals, his wines always show a fine balance of tannins and acidity, and they surely needs that – they are loaded with pure, rich and intense fruit flavors.
Although John Alban is more famous for his great wines of Syrah – the Lorraine, the Reva and the rare and outstanding Seymour – everything started with the aromatic Viognier. After tasting a wine from Condrieu, John Alban was hooked. Over the years that followed his epiphany over that wine, he tasted hundreds of wines of different Rhône varietals. Nothing could stop him from becoming a winemaker, and later one of the leading stars of the Rhône Rangers in California.
His total production has now reached 6 000 cases per year.

2007 Central Coast Viognier / 89 p
This is a pure Viognier, sourced both from his own vineyards in Edna Valley and from bought in grapes all over Central Coast, fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks and older and therefore neutral French oak barrels. It’s really a textbook Viognier, rich and intense with a lovely tropical fruit flavor, loaded with ripe apricots and violets and also with notes of black pepper that gives the wine a kind of interesting spicy personality. There are no obvious traces of the oak, which is a very positive detail! On the palate, the fruit is forward and somehow slightly sweet, but the long finish is completely dry, a bit spicy and surprisingly fresh (to be a Viognier), but there is also a relatively warm sensation from the 14.9 percent of alcohol. However, drinking it with food, the alcohol wouldn’t be a problem, but drinking it alone, the alcohol is for sure there in the finish. It’s really a very good Viognier, although not every wine consumer’s cup of tea, and it would be perfect to rich dishes of seafood and grilled or smoked fish, as well as many spicy dishes from south east Asia.

Drink it over the next 2 years.

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