Saturday, August 13, 2011
2008 Patrina Syrah from Alban Vineyards
In the early years his bottlings of Syrah from the Reva and Lorraine vineyards was fantastic, and over the years they have gained more power, depths and structure. Following his intuition and the path of prominent wine producers such as Guigal in the Rhône Valley and Sine Qua Non in Ventura Couny south of Santa Barbara, he started to mature these vineyards selection and the ultra premium Seymour's, in oak for 38-42 months from the 2004 vintage. This was a smart move, I'm not the only one who felt the wines could take it, and that the extra ageing gave them a fine texture and mouthfeel.
The problem was that it took longer to get the wines on the market, and that prices went up. So, John wanted to make another Syrah, estate grown of course, but made to be a little bit lighter, with only 20-24 months of barrel ageing, and as important - less expensive. With the 2008 vintage, he made his inaugural vintage of that wine, the Patrina Syrah. And it's very good
2008 Patrina Syrah / 93 p
At first, it was a bit rough with loads of dark scented, ripe and sweet fruit flavors with smoky, slightly bitter and to be honest, not too elegant oak characteristics. Also, on the palate, the stated 14.7 percent of alcohol was definitely there, especially with its warmth in the long aftertaste, and the tannins as well as the oak bitterness, was a bit oversized. So I let the wine sit in the decanter for another four hours, of course with a revisit every hour to see how it evolved. Almost nothing happened. So I poured the wine back in the bottle, and let it stand next to my desk for two days! Then, suddenly, the wine was just stunning. I know the wines from John Alban need time, even though they are showy at once – but in this case I was overwhelmed by the transformation from roughness to pure power and finesse at the same time. This was my first experience with this wine, six month ago.
Now, it's much more calm, although it still needs one to two hours in the decanter. The color is dark, almost opaque, and the nose is concentraded with ripe, dark scented fruit, somehgow sweetish but not cooked. Now, two days later, the oak is just sweet – there’s no bitterness at all, tannins have soften, and the wine is much more silky, still sweetish and intense, and there’s a lovely blackberry fruit flavor with fine notes of wild raspberries. Only snall notes of the smoky oak is still here, but now it’s much more integrated, therefore more enjoyable. Based on the long aeration, there are reasons to believe this wine can age well for many more years. This is not a shye wine – serve it to steaks, braised meet, or other tasty dishes.
Drink it 2012-2023