I tasted some older Albans this month (Jan 2020):
1. AlbanVnyds Pandora Seymore'sVnyd EdnaVlly RW (15.5%) ArroyoGrande 2000: Very dark color w/ some
browning; intense blackberry/boysenberry/strawberry/Syrah very strong charred/burnt/Fr.oak/toasty
rather hot/alcoholic/fumey nose w/ little evolution/complexity; bit soft very straong alcoholic/
hot/fumey/bitey strong charred/burnt/oak very strong blackberry/boysenberry/very ripe/Syrah bit
drying flavor w/ modest ripe/chewey tannins; very long/lingering huge fruit/blackberry/boysenberry/
strawberry compote/ripe Syrah strong burnt/charred/toasty/Fr.oak slight floral/violets finish w/
modest ripe/smooth tannins; the tannins have smoothed out a bit but still huge/primary/Syrah
fruit & very little evolution/complexity; dominated by the charred oak & huge fruit but no signs
of falling apart; very monolithic/primary Syrah fruit.
2. AlbanVnyds Syrah Reva AlbanEstate/EdnaVlly (15.6%) 2001: Very dark/near black color w/ some browning;
very intense charred/burnt/toasty/Fr.oak rather fumey/alcoholic intense overripe/boysenberry/
blackberry/Syrah/huge fruit nose; some tart/tangy fairly hot/alcoholic/fumey intense boysenberry/
blackberry/Syrah/spicy/bit peppery very strong burnt/charred/Fr.oak flavor w/ modest bit drying
tannins; very long/lingering rather hot/alcoholic/fumey intense blackberry/boysenberry/Syrah/bit
peppery some tart finish w/ ample ripe/hard/drying tannins; does not seem like a 20 yr old Syrah &
shows little evolution; loads of ripe fruit & a ton of charred oak & on the alcoholic side.
3. AlbanVnyds Syrah Reva AlbanEstate/EdnaVlly (14.2%) ArroyoGrande 2000: Very dark color w/ slight
bricking; fairly alcoholic/fumey intense charred/burnt/toasty/oak strong ripe/blackberry/boysenberry/
Syrah/spicy quite intense fruit nose w/ little development or complexity; lightly tart intense burnt/
charred/toasty/Fr.oak very strong ripe/overripe/boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah/bit black pepper/spicy
rather hot/alcoholic/fumey bit bacon fat flavor w/ some hard/grippy tannins; very long/lingering
rather hard/tannic strong burnt/charred/signature Alban oak some hot/fumey intense ripe/boysenberry/
blackberry/Syrah bit peppery finish w/ ample hard/chewey tannins; still loads of very ripe Syrah
fruit & loads of charred oak but little signs of evolution or complexity; a huge extracted Syrah.
4. AlbanVnyds Grenache AlbanEstate/EdnaVlly (15.8%) 2001: Very dark/near black color w/ some browning;
very strong toasted/charred/oak/burnt intense boysenberry/blackberry/ripe/strawberry/strawberry
compote slight earthy/dusty huge fruit some alcoholic/fumey bit complex nose; quite tart/tangy bit
metallic/aged/drying out huge fruit/ripe/boysenberry/blackberry/stewed strawberrys/Grenache bit
chocolaty strong toasy/charred/burnt/Fr.oak slight earthy slight strawberry/Grenache some alcoholic/
fumey flavor w/ modest hard/drying tannins; very long rather hot/alcoholic/fumey intense blackberry/
boysenberry/strawberry compote/Grenache strong charred/burnt/Fr.oak some drying/astringent finish
w/ ample drying/astringent tannins; still loads of ripe Grenache fruit but starting to dry out a
bit w/ no evolution or complexity.
5. AlbanVnyds Syrah Lorraine AlbanEstate/EdnaVlly (14.7%) 2000: Very dark color w/ some browning; very
intense very ripe/boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah/very ripe rather alcoholic huge charred/burnt/toasty/
Fr.oak rather monolithic nose; quite tart rather alcoholic/fumey intense overripe/boysenberry/
blackberry/Syrah intense charrd/burnt/Fr.oak rather over-the-top flavor w/ ample ripe tannins;
very long/lingering intense very ripe/boysenberry/blackberry/Syrah/bit peppery intense charred/burnt/
Fr.oak some alcoholic/fumey finish w/ ample ripe tannins; loads of very ripe Syrah fruit & charred oak
but no signs of oxidation or raisened/pruney flavors; probably will taste pretty much the same in
another 10 yrs w/ just some softening of the tannins.
More frtlprtle from TheBloodyPulpit:
1. This is probably about the last of the Alban's in my stash unless I uncover another buried box. I was
dumped from the mailing list in the early '00's because my check arrived for my next order several
days late & was returned to me. "Sorry...no soup for you today". Several yrs later when I saw John at
HdR, he queried me as to why I didn't buy his wines anymore & I explained that Glenn had dropped me
from the mailing list. John assured me he would be glad to return me to the list but I demurred.
I explained that there were lots of other folks who didn't feel their lives were complete and their
manhood challenged because they couldn't buy Alban wines and those people deserved them much more
than I. Plus the prices were getting pretty steep for my tastes.
I have, of course, followed JohnAlban from the very start. He purchased his Estate and planted in
1989 to Syrah/Grenache/Viog/Roussanne. I first met John at the Taste of Vail Wine Festival about 1995.
His table was tucked way back in the corner and received almost no visitors, in a large venue littered
with Chard & Cabernet. As I visited w/ John, I was quite struck by his passion for Rhone varietals &
it was the start of a very long friendship. I visited John at his wnry several yrs later. On that visit,
I also met ManfredKrankl, who had transferred his winemaking from AdamTolmach's up to Alban's afore
he moved into his junkyard location down in Ventura. I believe it was also this visit that I met
AugieHug, who was making a few barrels of wine there as well.
I pretty much liked those first wines of John's. The Viog '93(?) was quite ripe and dominated by
the new Fr.oak to the extent the Viog perfume was beaten down. The '93 Syrah was fairly light &
dominated by the toasty Fr.oak, but well structured & had potential I thought. That was pretty much
the style of his first 2-3 Syrahs until he segued into the massive/huge fruit style that garnered him
huge #'s from the Monktown attourney.
The following yr at the Taste of Vail, they held the first Seminar on Viognier anywhere in the
USofA. On the panel was JoshJensen/BobLindquist/JohnAlban/DonMcGrath (VillaHelena)/BillSmith (W.H.Smth);
all the movers & shakers in the early Viognier movement. At the end of the presentation, some idiot
in the audience stood up & asked Josh..."How do you go about making a DollyParton Viognier"...with
the appropriate hand gestures at the front of his chest. It brought the audience down. And thus did
"DollyParton Viognier" enter the wine lexicon. It was kinda amusing at one of the later HdR Seminars
on Guigal wines when MarcelGuigal was talking about his LaDorian Viognier and then....after a bit of a
pause...described it as a "DollyParton Viognier" in an embarassed tone & w/o the necessary hand gestures.
2. Aging: These, to me, are typical examples of aged Alban reds. It is a style, like the SQN, that I no
longer am attracted to. In their youth, they are characterized by massive extraction, tons of new oak,
and huge fruit. They make you stand in awe of what God & John have created and you're convinced that
they, because of their extraction, will age into something magnificent. That's not been my experience.
They seem to age at a glacial pace, and the tannins will often soften/integrate. But I seldom find them
developing any sort of complexity or evolution. A 20 yr old EdStJohn/Qupe/Jaffurs/Ojai would be
absolutely singing right now. These 5 Albans were all pretty much interchangeable; with tons of primary
fruit, tons of new charred oak. About the only evolution you see is the hot/fumey/alcoholic character
coming to the forefront. OTOH, you don't find them showing that raisened/pruney character that oftentimes
the very ripe Syrahs display. Yet there are a lot of fans of this Alban/Cambe style who praise these
kind of wines to the skies. I just don't have a sophisticated enough palate to find in these older
Albans what they are finding. AhhhWell...more Albans for them.