Another sensational wine released under the North label, there are 200 cases of the 2013 Pinot Noir and, like the Chardonnay, it had just been bottled a little over a week prior to my visit. A rich, full-flavored beauty that doesn't put a foot wrong and still offers fabulous Pinot Noir typicity, it reveals a ruby translucent color to go with classic currants, forest floor, licorice and assorted earthy, underbrush aromas and flavors. Full-bodied, layered, seamless and perfectly balanced, with terrific intensity and length, it's a gorgeous effort to drink anytime over the coming decade, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it evolve longer. These Pinots and Chardonnays all come from John Alban's estate in the Edna Valley. Without a doubt, these 2013s are the greatest I've tasted from him. (JD)
Brilliant ruby-red. Heady smoke- and spice-accented aromas of fresh red and dark berries and rose pastille, with a hint of blood orange in the background. Sweet, seamless and expansive, offering bright raspberry and boysenberry flavors that become fleshier and spicier with air. Silky tannins provide shape and grip to the long, spicy, red berry-dominated finish. These wines are made by John Alban from vineyards that compose part his house's yard and his wife, Lorraine, couldn't bear to tear out, even though they aren't varieties that are Alban's specialty. He told me that he loves working with them because they allow him to "get outside (his) comfort zone and re-calibrate (his) work without intruding on the Rhône focus." Production is microscopic but these wines are more than worth the search if you're a serious wine geek and want to see how a Rhône variety master interprets Burgundy grapes. The wines are excellent to boot. (JR)
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