TN: Alban Vineyards Tasting 1993-2009

ALBAN VINEYARDS TASTING 1993-2009 - Buzzini House (1/16/2012)

Bob Summers and I have been wanting to do a tasting like this for a long long time…so 8 of us, fairly local, Alban fans got together Sunday, to watch the games, eat some grub, and suck down as much Alban juice as we could! It was an epic tasting…thanks to all!!!
Teeth cleaner

  • NV Champagne Collet Champagne Brut - France, Champagne, Aÿ, Champagne
    Nice and creamy, sweet pear, apple fruit…tiny bubbles, lemon, slight dough…easy sipping champ, a little more on the sweet side. (90 pts.)


  • 1999 Alban Vineyards Roussanne Estate - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    This bottle is showing absolutely stunning! After about 3+hrs opened…wonderful exotic hot buttered rum spice, smoky match strike, butterscotch…ripe peach, apricot fruit, slight sour skin…balanced well with GREAT citrus acidity and minerals to hold it all together. Best showing of this I’ve ever had. (95 pts.)
  • 2001 Qupé Roussanne Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    This was fantastic! I was right Bob…we did have this wine at the first tasting! Still fresh and alive with super acidity…seemed like just a few years old. Bright and clean lemon/lime, green apple, melon fruit…little smoky ala Alban, but not even close to what the '99 showed. Lemon curd, honeysuckle florals, spice. Really nice wine here…with a long life ahead. (93 pts.)
  • 1998 Alban Vineyards Viognier The Heavyweight Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    VERY excited to try this, as I knew it existed, but have never had or seen one. Looks like it’s from purchased fruit, since it has the Central Coast designation. This is no “heavyweight” at all…cloudy gold color, great floral spiced nose. More on the delicate side…round fruit of peach, apricot, pear…creamy, savory, and held together with very fine citrus acid, no alcohol at all. Showed nice subtle complexities of marshmallow creme, lychee, sweet peach tea, little barrel spice on the finish. I really liked this…wish I had some! (93 pts.)
  • 2007 Alban Vineyards Viognier Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    I’ve had this wine numerous times recently…this bottle was a little more richer than I remember…vanilla creme, tropicals, honeysuckle, marshmallow, some heat showing. Not as much match strike as I usually get. The '09 Central Coast bested this. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Alban Vineyards Viognier - USA, California, Central Coast
    This was a surprise…very fresh with beautiful florals…lychee, peach tea, honeysuckle…not hot and alcoholic(14.6) like some…well rounded, balanced. Love the cloudy unfiltered gold yellow color. A great Summer sipper! (92 pts.)
  • 2001 Alban Vineyards Viognier “Rotten Luck” TBA - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Sweet, unctuous, candied apricot/pear…creme brulee crust, tea spice, orange rind…wish it had more acid to it…but I liked it for its subtle elegance. 10.1 alc. (91 pts.)


  • 1993 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Definitly showing some age…still pretty dark and sweet berry, plum fruit…mellow tannin, orange acid…showing some mocha, mentol tobacco, beef broth, olive. Not dead at all…great wine to sip on. (92 pts.)
  • 1994 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    WOW…where did this French Rhone come from? Totally different from all the other Alban’s…more Cote Rotie-like…herbs, leather, black peppered meat, little smoky bacon. The only sign of anything Alban is the rich blackberry pie fruit…has amazing fresh acid, giving it super balance. This wine rocked! (96 pts.)
  • 1999 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    The big acid year for Alban has finally given up its grip! What great fresh acid in this…giving the rich and sweet wild berry pie fruit, super lift. Classic tar, big dusty spices, licorice…killer! (95 pts.)
  • 2007 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Boy this is young! With all the older Alban’s we were tasting…this stood out like a sour thumb. Barrel sample like…rich, yet a little grapey, dark berry fruit…some graphite, raspberry puree, cherry cordials, vanilla bean oak barrel…not much tar funk. Tasty, just needs more time to make it more interesting. +pts (91 pts.)


  • 1996 Alban Vineyards Grenache Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Lighter with its age…plumberry, raspberry fruit…mellow sour skin acid, which gives it good freshness…faint asphalt tar, tea leaves…wonderful balance and integration. Loved this wine at this stage. (93 pts.)
  • 1999 Alban Vineyards Grenache Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    FINALLY the big acid has broken! This wine has never been drinkable to me…but that was in its youth. The acid is still very much pronounced, but now balanced, making this wine fresh and alive. Still pretty rich wild berry fruit, some plum skin tartness, raspberry puree, great smoky funky tar…total Alban terroir! Just loved this! (97 pts.)
  • 2003 Alban Vineyards Grenache Alban Estate Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Here comes the huge rich fruit! Dark liqueur berries, sweet and candied, yet too so. Killer complexities of white pepper spice, smoky asphalt, grilled meat. Big wine(16.2) but well balanced and doesn’t show. Lot of goodness in this one! (94 pts.)


  • 1999 Alban Vineyards Syrah Lorraine - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Amazing wine here! Sweet cold soaked blueberry/blackberry fruit, creme de cassis, exotic dusty spice, graphite, classic tar funk…all in perfect balance with an acidic kick to the finish. The feel to this was unreal! My WOTN! (98 pts.)
  • 2000 Alban Vineyards Syrah Lorraine - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    More reductive funk to this one…smooth and creamy dark berry fruit, creme de cassis, white pepper, licorice, gun flint…perfect sweetness of fruit, maybe a little out of whack with the tar. Tasty none the less. (94 pts.)
  • 2002 Alban Vineyards Syrah Lorraine - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    HUGE fruit…sweet and concentrated…yet enough sour cherry acidity to balance. Kirsch liqueur, white pepper spice, great florals, licorice, cold smoked meat, powdery graphite. Layered with amazing flavors…rich. Should age well. (95 pts.)

Mix heavy hitters

  • 1998 Alban Vineyards Pandora - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    More red fruit here…dark, smooth, creamy. More earth tones, mulch, walnut…opened up nicely with some air…dark spice, smoked game, tar, good acidic tart plum skin kick, great balance. This got better after it was opened. (94 pts.)
  • 2001 Alban Vineyards Syrah Seymour’s Vineyard - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    I think I liked this more than most…again, huge rich and sweet concentrated dark berry fruit…liqueured soaked fruit…plenty of tar funk, dusty white pepper tannins, olive, florals of violets. Not as expressive as a bottle had a year or so ago…everything well balanced but more on the mute side(for a Seymour’s)…still, I liked it! Can’t wait for the leftovers tonight! (95 pts.)
  • 2004 Forsythe Vineyard (Alban) Mourvedre The Mason - USA, California, Central Coast, Edna Valley
    Dark berry, blueberry liqueur fruit…LOVE the dusty white pepper spice in this…some menthol, warm chocolate brownies, smoke meat, coffee, little pine sap. Really young, big tannic grip…needs time. +pts (93 pts.)

BC’s birthday wine

  • 1969 Freemark Abbey Petite Sirah York Creek - USA, California, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District
    The birthday wine…from the Barney Rhodes cellar…very young looking and tasting! Wonderful smooth plum/blackberry fruit, leather, mushroom, olives, anise. Still sweet, plum liqueur, good dose of dusty old cellar tannin dryness, great tobacco leaf, balance. Best '69er I’ve had! (93 pts.)

Mystery Alban - Some kind of Alban moonshine! Whoa…fire water! I think it was like a grappa from maybe Viognier skins and stems. Nice nose of vanilla brandy barrel, smoky peat…but I’m not a spirits guy…an I just couldn’t stomach it!
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Well done Buzz and thank you for hosting!!!

Will add my “notes” a little later but it was an absolute pleasure and experience to try about 20 different Albans in one setting. I tried to do little verticals when possible for comparision’s sake, and that was real fascinating.

Two things off the top of my head:

I love the Lorraine! And I don’t “get” Roussanne

Wow…great notes, Buzz. What an impressive lineup of wines. Thanks for taking the time to write them up.
John’s early Roussanne/Viognier tended to be a bit over the top for me, a bit too much charred/toasty/burnt oak.
My sense is that he’s pulling back on that front. Would you agree w/ that??
Not surprised that Bob’s Roussanne is still showing well. They may not be the most intense/extracted
Roussanne made in Calif, but their balance takes them out quite a ways in time. I think his are a more pure
expression of Roussanne in Calif. I think the recent HillsideEstate/BienNacido Roussannes are maybe the
greatest ever made in Calif.
I have the Reva '94 lined up…maybe I’ll crack it tonight.
Again…great notes, Buzz…thanks for sharing.

Please DO crack that '94 Reva! It was the most un-Alban wine of the tasting…I tried accusing Glenn of trying to trick us by pouring a Cote Rotie in the bottle…but then realized the bottle was unopened upon arrival! John is definitely pulling it back now a days…but I actually love what he did with those older Whites. The Qupe rocked…to bad no more Alban fruit there.

Can’t wait to see your tn!

btw Tom…ever have Alban moonshine!!! [shock.gif]

I hope your bottle of '94 shows as well as this one. I count it among my top 5 CA Syrahs ever. That’s high praise.

Nope, Buzz…never had the Alban moonshine. How can you tell the difference from it and John’s regular wines??? [stirthepothal.gif] Sorry…me bad…couldn’t resist!!

Did crack it ('94 Reva) last night. Liked the nose, but it was awfully hard/tannic on the palate. Tried a sip this morning,
and it seemed smoother on the palate. Will try again this afternoon & then write up a TN.

Thanks for posting all the great notes, Buzz! Sounds like it was quite a tasting.

I find that I’m down to two bottles of Alban remaining in my cellar - '00 and '01 Revas. I’ll have to find some special times to open them.

When Bob Summers mentioned your name…I told him we should have invited YOU!!! He said that you’re not a big fan of the Alban juice?? [wow.gif] I find that hard to believe?

Save those bottles…we’ll do this again!


Not as big a fan as I used to be, it’s true…and the prices over the past 10 years have kept me from continuing to buy them so I have not had as many chances to taste them recently. But I certainly used to like them quite a lot, and bought a few hard-to-find bottlings from Bob Senn in Los Olivos back in the day. It would have been cool to taste all those older vintages, so do keep me in mind if you do a similar tasting in the future - thanks!

ditto neener

You better post some notes…or no VOGUE dinner for you!! [swearing.gif] Oh…wait…you are bringing the Moose…nevermind! flirtysmile

A special time might be when I bring '97,'98 and '99 over!

A little more info emailed to me from John Alban on The Heavyweight…

"In 1998 I was still farming the original leased vineyard I had on the W
side of Paso. As our picking continued I realized with delight that I
brought too small a truck and too few bins to get all the grapes in one
day. I had one little area that was not as sweet as the rest and left it
for later. The heat wave that was forecast broke up quickly and so I was
able to leave this fruit longer than I’d guessed. While the sugars didn’t
move much, the pH jumped and acid plummeted. It made a single barrel that
was so big and creamy while staying fresh that it made me think of Ali-
the only true Heavyweight in my opinion.

When we bottled it I told folks that like heavyweights it had a lot of
stuff right now, but probably not a long career- so I am curious to see
how it held up for you some 14 years later."

Sounds like a great idea, Bob!

FWIW, I was at a dinner on Monday and a friend brought an '01 Reva. Consensus at the table was that it still needs time, and I agree. Probably not too much longer though - or at least a good decant, which we did not do.

Buzz since you’re the resident WB Alban expert would you give me some drinking windows on some of my Albans? 2001 & 2004 Reva. 2008 Patrina. Do you know if there will be a 2009 Patrina? And lastly 2004 Turley Late harvest Roussanne, I snatched up three of these when at Turley’s TR two years ago. I saw three 375s behind the counter and asked the nice oldish lady begind the bar what they were she replied, “Some desert wine from some place in Edna Valley, no one wants it because its not zin.” I bought all three of them and have yet to crack one. Thanks in advance.

The '04 I last had in 2010…and it was still a massive monster, but with great balance to the 16.7! alc…my notes say drinking well now, but should go for at least 10 more yrs. I’d say look in 2014. Btw, just had the '05, and it was in a great spot! The 2001 is one of the “super ooze monster” era Albans…2000-2003…huge rich fruit, big reduction tar funk…haven’t had it in awhile…but if you like the funk, and richness…I think this ones a go now. Patrina…killer wine! That one is all about the freshness and bright, beautiful florals…seems like it will age a few, but it is SO good young…drink that now, or in the next couple. There is a '09 Patrina coming out shortly as I heard…but not as much made this go around…so going to be harder to get. Never had that Turley LH (Alban fruit right)…have had a few '98 Turley Alban Vineyard Roussanne…that didn’t age that well at all…so maybe drink up. And…a little birdie told me…there might be some Alban Pinot Noir in the works…which I would be totally thrilled about! We’ll see…


Had another bottle of the 99 grenache last week…MAN what juice! I thought I’d resurrect this thread again for those who keep asking me how Alban ages!

I WISH I could find another bottle of that Heavyweight…anyone have one!!! flirtysmile