2019 Alban Vineyards Syrah Alban Estate Reva
Jeb Dunnuck | 98 JD
I tasted the 2019 Syrah Reva on July 8, shortly after its bottling in June. The 2019 is particularly elegant, with notable detail and vibrancy. "I’ve been more curious about the reaction of consumers to the 2019 Reva than I have in a long time," winemaker John Alban explains. "Will they like it? The Reva is very different in 2019." It’s a touch aromatically coiled from its recent bottling, taking plenty of time and air to unfold scents of blackcurrants, peppermint patty, charcuterie, coffee beans and brown sugar. The full-bodied palate has a strong spine of refreshing acidity and plush, velvety tannins to balance its depth of flavor, and it offers a beautiful flourish of spice and floral tones that fan across the long finish. It’s less ripe and hedonistic than in some vintages yet just as enjoyable! This will be released in the fall of 2023.
Robert Parker Wine Advocate | 96+ RP
Wine Details for 2019 Alban Vineyards Syrah Alban Estate Reva
|Type of Wine
: Whether it's Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Zinfandel, Californian red wine producers have a lovely habit of taking a varietal and expressing its essence in a unique, never before seen way. From Napa Valley to the regions south of Los Angeles, there's a red for everyone - and it's never too late to start exploring.
: Something magical occurred when two ancient French grapes procreated and the varietal of Syrah entered the world of winegrowing. The exact time period of its inception is still undetermined; however, the origin of Syrah’s parentage confirms it was birthed in the Rhone Valley. DNA testing performed by UC Davis has indicated that Syrah is the progeny of the varietals Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, both of Rhone origin. Syrah dominates its native homeland of Northern Rhone and has become one of the most popular grape varietals in the world.
Syrah, Shiraz and Petite Sirah have often been confused and misunderstood, some consumers believing them to all be the same grape, while others thinking the opposite. Petite Sirah is actually the offspring of Syrah and Peloursin and though related, is an entirely different grape variety. Its official name is Durif, for the name of the French nurseryman who first propagated the varietal in the 1880s; it is called Petite Sirah in California (due to the resemblance of Syrah, but smaller berries). Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape. Producers in Australia have been labelling Syrah as “Shiraz” since James Busby first introduced the varietal to the continent. The Scottish viticulturist brought Syrah from France to Australia in the middle of the 18th century and labelled the cuttings as “Sycras” and “Ciras,” which may have led to the naming. Most California vintners label their bottlings as Syrah and of course in French style and tradition, the name of the village or area the grape is cultivated dictates the label name.
The Syrah grape is at home in Northern Rhone where the climate is cool and the terroir is filled with gravel, schist, limestone, iron, granite and sandy soils. It thrives on rocky, hilly terrain with a southern exposure, due to its need for sunlight. Syrah is a very vigorous grape with a spreading growth habit. The berries are small to medium oval shaped blue-black and tend to shrivel when ripe.
Today, Syrah is one of the most popular and widely planted grape varietals in the world, covering almost 190,000 hectares across the earth’s surface. It is the only red grape variety permitted by AOC regulations in the appellations of Hermitage and Cote-Rotie, where it has breathed life into some of the most tremendous wines on the planet. Languedoc-Roussilon has the most surface area planted in France with 43,200 hectares dedicated to Syrah. The varietal is used for blending in Southern Rhone, Provence and even Bordeaux. Syrah has spread worldwide from Australia to California and South Africa to Spain creating the ‘New World’ hype of the varietal. Since the 1990’s, Syrah winegrowing and production has increased exponentially; for example, in 1958 there were a mere 2,000 hectares planted in France. By 2005 that number increased to over 68,000 hectares and today it is well over 70,000. The same holds true for California, Australia and other ‘New World’ producers that have jumped “all in.” World-wide there are approximately 190,000 hectares of Syrah currently being cultivated.
The allure of Syrah has taken the world by storm, but is important to note where the hype began. Long before Syrah was being stamped with ‘New World’ or of ‘cult status,’ the tremendous quality of Hermitage was being written about in Thomas Jefferson’s diary. Today, the grape variety can be grown, fashioned, named and enjoyed in a myriad of ways, but the quality of Syrah grape remains the same – incredible.
: As one of the most prolific and innovative wine regions in the world, America is a joy to explore. Most wine connoisseurs will agree that the nation's finest and most compelling wines are being produced today, which means that we have front-row seats to one of the most inspirational stories in wine history. While other regions tend to focus on specific wine styles and have somewhat strict rules as to which varietals you could grow, areas like California have few such restrictions in place. As a result, creative visionaries behind America's most reputable estates have been able to develop compelling, unique, and innovative styles, with a level of terroir expression that rivals even France's largest giants.
: With a history of wine production that dates back to the 18th century, California currently sits as one of the world's most prolific and reputable wine regions. With an area as vast as California, you can expect a colorful collage of terroir profiles, a series of microclimates, and micro-environments that give the wine a unique, memorable appeal. The region's produce is far from homogenized in that sense, and it would take you countless hours to sample all of it. While the region boasts scars from the Prohibition era, it went through what can only be described as a viticultural Renaissance sometime after the 1960s. At that point, California went from a port-style, sweet wine region to a versatile and compelling competitor on the world market. Today, no matter which way your taste in wine leans, you can find a new favorite producer among California's most talented.
Notable sub-regions include legendary names like Napa Valley and Sonoma County, places that any wine lover would die to visit. California's quintessential warm climate allows for incredibly ripe fruit expressions, a style that provides a stark contrast to Old World-inspired, earthy classics. Even where inspiration was clearly taken from staple French appellations, Californian winemakers put their own unique spin on the wine.
: For the past twenty some years, the world of wine procurement has become a truly complex industry. Of course there was the renaissance period of the seventies and eighties in Napa Valley but this new trend seemed to go back to Europe; to Old World winemaking. There was a rebirth here in the United States where California producers were perfecting a new take on the Rhone varietals. French grapes grown in Napa Valley soil - The Rhone Rangers.
Alban Vineyards is the first important California wine and vineyard producer, focusing on Rhone Varietals; located in Edna Valley in the southern corner of the San Luis Obispo appellation. There were already wineries using Rhone varietals at the time but he became the first producer completely devoted to the grapes that are native to the Rhone Valley.
Alban bought land in San Luis Obispo in 1990 which is far north in Edna Valley. Of all the other growing regions, the cooler climate there is most similar to that of Rhone. He began growing red and white grapes such as Syrah, Viognier and Roussanne. Over the next few years he would add Grenache and then ultimately release his first vintage (fruit from his 1992 vintage).
As one would expect, Rhone Varietals can be complex, as can the blending. Alban Vineyards is extremely well suited for this myriad of components at work. The vineyards consist of different soil types, exposures and micro-climates. Some of the greatest vineyards, such as 8 acres of Seymour’s where the soils are laced with chalk and limestone. Reva, on the other hand is grown in soil dominated by clay and gravel. The soils of Lorraine come from a hotter, rockier terroir.
Today, Alban’s 66-acres under vine offers a wide range of variety, including Viognier, Roussanne, Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. The grapes are sourced for not only single variety offerings but are also for the top wines of their vast portfolio, such as Seymour’s, Reva and Patrina; all three of which are 100% Syrah. Alban Vineyards has an annual production of 6,000 cases. Alban is an outstanding operation and has been used as a grape source for other vintners, most notably, Sine Qua Non, Au Bon Climat, Failla, amongst others.