John Alban was the first pioneer to dedicate his entire winery and vineyards to the Rhone varieties in 1989, at a time when almost nothing was grown in California that wasn’t Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay. For the first 15 years a fourth of all Alban’s vineyards were planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, most of which was sold to other wineries. As the success of the Rhone varieties slowly elapsed, more and more of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards were uprooted, all but one, which was particularly important to the Albans. North is perched on a steep north facing hillside and planted into loam frosted sandstone, it is an isolated and unique block comprised of one and a half hectare of Pinot Noir and just a half hectare of Chardonnay.
“The greatest Chardonnay yet from Alban, his 2013 Chardonnay had just been bottled prior to my visit. It certainly was showing no ill effects and offers sensational, Monrachet-like notes of ripe apple and orchard fruits, toasted nuts, mineral and cream. Full-bodied, ripe. Voluptuous and layered, it’s a shame more producers don’t attempt this style and settle for a mid-weight, overly acidity, more innocuous expressions of the variety. Drink this beautiful wine anytime over the coming decade.” Robert Parker, 95 points.£10 per 100.00ml