Alban Pandora 2006
Blend: 92% Grenache, 8% Syrah
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Alban Vineyards is the first America winery and vineyard established exclusively for Rhone varieties. Conceived at a time when there were virtually only two "flavors" of wine produced in the U.S., they set out to introduce wine grapes that would offer oenephiles a new world of possibilities. Pioneering Roussanne, Grenache Noir and Viognier to go along with meticulously selected clones of Syrah, Alban Vineyards has guided consumers and producers to the enormous potential of Rhone varietals in California.
California’s coolest wine growing area, Edna Valley excels in the production of high quality Pinot noir, Chardonnay, Rhône Blends and aromatic white wines. It has a cool Mediterranean climate and an incredibly long growing season, giving late-ripening varieties plenty of opportunity to develop great phenolic complexity.
Its northwest to southeast orientation creates a direct path for cool Pacific air and fog to penetrate the valley from the Los Osos and Morro Bay area inwards. Low hillsides of both calcareous and volcanic soils are home to much of the vineyard acreage of the Edna Valley.
With bold fruit flavors and accents of sweet spice, red Rhône blends originated from France’s southern Rhône Valley. Grenache, supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre typically form the base of the blend, while Carignan, Cinsault and Counoise often come in to play. With some creative interpretation, Rhône blends have also become popular in Priorat, Washington, Australia and California.
In the Glass
The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit and a plush texture. Syrah supplies dark fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy and earthy notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume and earthy flavor as well as structure and a healthy dose of color. New World examples tend to be fruit-forward in style, while those from the Old World will often have more earth, structure and herbal components on top of ripe red and blue fruit.
Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. These can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes, playing equally well with beef, pork, lamb or game. Braised beef cheeks, grilled steak or sausages, roasted pork and squab are all fine pairings.
Some regions like to put their own local spin on the red Rhône blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah make an appearance.