Wine Review – 2006 Failla “Alban Vineyard” Viognier, California

Failla Viognier

Wine has many variables that affect the quality and results every year.  These variables acting together as one to eventually create something beautiful is what makes this industry so exciting.  By the same token, it’s these variables that are also for many in the industry, the bane of their existence.  As a winemaker and proprietor, it can be frustrating being at the whim of nature’s control over the seasons.  Having a bad season of rain or drought can ruin crops, mess up production and ultimately crimp the bottom line.  As a consumer who is used to drinking a “house” style of a particular producer’s wine year after year, it can cause headaches when the new vintage bears no semblance to previous vintages.

So why am I rambling on and on about this subject?  I had the opportunity to taste the 2005 Failla “Alban Vineyard” Viognier and honestly, it was one of the best viogniers I’ve ever had.  It had just a shade of oak, tasty stone fruit, ginger, spice and everything that makes viognier nice.

When I finally had the opportunity to try the 2006, I was actually a little dissapointed, but not because I thought the wine sucked.  In fact, it was still delicious, but it just didn’t hit me the way the 2005 did.  My mind had set the bar so high for this wine based on the 2005, it ultimately led to my supreme dissapointment for the 2006.  The 2006 didn’t have that shade of lightly toasted oak and minerality that the 2005 had.  The later vintage had a more plump and juicy mouth-feel than the previous vintage, yet it actually felt like the fruit was a little taught and tight, which are somewhat rare attributes that I find in white wines, especially viognier which is usually a very expressive and aromatic grape.  Still, true to type, the wine was luscious, exotic and heady like a viognier should be.

The fruit comes from the Alban vineyard in the central coast region of California known as the Edna Valley.  In my opinion, central coast viogniers show better than ones you find coming out of Napa and Sonoma.  Ultimately, viognier needs a long and steady growing season, which is what the central coast of California provides.

It paired quite well with the Vietnamese food we were chowing down with the wine, although at around $35 retail for this bottle, it’s definitely on the higher end of the price scale.  I also admit that it was a more expensive bottle of wine than were used to drinking on a weeknight where cheap meals are the norm.  It should have been slated for a special ‘weekend’ occasion at either a nice BYOB restaurant or alongside one of my 5 star home chef meals with friends.  Oh well, I guess that’s how excited I was to try the new release.

The wine is fashioned by Ehren Jordan, of Turley Wine Cellars fame.  He aslo makes some cool syrahs, pinot noirs and pretty chardonnays.  They’re pretty small production wines (Only a few hundred cases per varietal) so you’ll probably find them in smaller boutique wine shops.

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