Saturday, November 27, 2010

2005 Seymour’s from Alban Vineyards

John Alban is one of the superstars of Central Coast. He was the first one to plant Rhône varieties in Edna Valley, a valley that at the time was considered to be to cool for the southern French varieties. Every single backbiter was soon proved to be wrong – after just a few vintages in the mid 90s, John Alban crafted wines of great finesse and complexity and soon he was the talk of the day.
The timing for Syrah in the 90s was perfect, not only did the vintners start to plant better clones, and also on good sites, the consumers also started to find this “new” grape and wine style as well. The cooler sites was soon the first to be chosen for Syrah, and today we see more Syrah in Sonoma Coast, Russian River, Carneros and Santa Rita Hills, than in warmer regions.
John Alban and his friend Manfred Krankl of Sine-Qua-Non were the first to make ripe, intense and concentrated wines of cult status from Syrah. Although many winemakers were inspired by them and their highly acclaimed wines and therefore went in their footsteps, they still play in their own league.
The Seymour’s is unfortunately a very rare wine. It’s not too likely to find it unless you are a member on the mailing list, or dine at a high end restaurant. However, you may find its siblings Lorraine of Reva, two outstanding syrahs in the same ripe and spicy style.

2005 Seymour’s / 96 p
One can easily say that since long time friends John Alban and Manfred Krankl find inspiration in each other wines. This vintage of Seymour’s shows, just like the great wines of Sine-Qua-Non, that pure power can live in harmony and absolute balance. Well, at least with a perspective of a few years of more bottle age. Drinking it today, it will of course be a heavy weight champion with less complexity and finesse, but the punch is remarkable. This 100 percent Syrah from the 4.45 hectare Seymour’s vineyard was kept in brand new French oak barrels for 40 months, and it is still in its first primary stage. Color is dark, almost opaque, and the nose is dense, concentrated and still marked by the sweet and coconut scented new oak barrels, but there’s a great purity and a power that’s quite remarkable. It’s not, however, a wine for those who seeks for elegance and finesse in the classic way – this is a wine for those who love full bodied, heavy weight champions with impressive fruit and length.
On the palate is full bodied, packed with dark and ripe almost sweetish berries, but there’s also a more aromatic note in the fruit. Some coconut flavors and Asian spices from the oak are found on the nose and on the palate, and the oak tannins and bitterness is still there – I guess they will hang on for another year or two. Again, it’s a great powerful wine reminiscent of those of Sine-Qua-Non, but actually with more power and concentration. The 15.2 percent of alcohol adds length to the aftertaste, as well as sweetness and structure, but still it is quite well integrated in the ripe, lush and lingering body. Tasted directly from bottle at this stage, it was brutal (but good), tasted three hours later from a decanter, it was still quite brutal (but even more good), and tasted again seven hours after decanting it, it was just brutal and absolutely wonderful. As John Alban told me a few times, this wine needs time. So please, give it time, in tour cellar, or in the decanter. And please, serve it in a large glass with some great food. Why not a steak?
Drink it 2014-2025.

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