Feb 2013 Mark Squires9
Drink: 2014 - 2021 $50 (50)
The 2008 Alpha One is the winery’s “winemaker’s selection” bottling, changing every year. This year it is all Merlot from Strofi Vineyard, aged for 18 months in new French oak (nine months and then transferred for another nine, apparently the so-called 200% new oak method) and then held back in bottle for another 18 months. Winemaker Angelos Iatridis, however, says the oak is in effect white-toasted – “practically just steamed, without any toasting,” which will allow the fruit to be preserved. Right at this moment, though, it opens with a pretty strong whiff of little but oak. Tasted next to Alpha’s less oaked wines, it is rather jarring and disconcerting, although it certainly does not create that drenched-in-vanilla aspect so many dislike. The wine is otherwise tight, powerful and crisp, much in the style of Alpha’s other wines here. It is neither particularly fleshy nor sweet. If you’re looking for a flabby, sweet and easy Merlot – this sure isn’t it. The acidity was good – sometimes perhaps to a fault – as it has a bit of a tart edge to it that began at times to remind me more of Xinomavro than Merlot. That may be more of a flaw than a virtue to many. There is, as always, fine structure, attention to an elegant mid-palate, and interesting aging possibilities. Like Alpha’s other wines here, this is surely going to benefit from some time. You can approach it now if you must, but it will be better around 2014-2016. This should come around pretty well. There were 4,962 bottles produced. Drink 2014-2021.
Vintage 2009 was a shaky one for many wineries, but Alpha in Amyndeon seems to have done pretty well. Winemaker Angelos Iatridis said to me: “2009 was a very demanding growing season. Heavy rainfall just before flowering. Lower than average summer temperatures, combined with August rainfall, demanded yield control by green harvesting. However, an excellent dry and sunny September gave us high maturity levels in the grapes. The result was 35% lower yield than the average for Amyndeon region, and at the same time, excellent balance and concentration in the wines. Phenolic maturity reached high levels whereas the cool summer temperatures contributed to the achievement of aromatic complexity. Overall, the 2009 vintage was a real challenge because it required hard work in the vineyard and in the winery as well. If I had to describe the 2009 vintage just in a turn of phrase, it would be that 2009 could be described as the year of high precision and detailed work in the vineyard.” In nearby Naoussa, he said, the traditional heart of Xinomavro land, there were small differences – less rainfall than in Amyndeon, but higher heat at the end of August and in September.
Alpha Estate, Alpha One 2007 Regional Wine of Florina
28 Jul 2011 by JH
Date tasted 14 May 2011
Producer Alpha Estate
Appellation Regional Wine of Florina
When to drink 2012 to 2020
Date tasted 14 May 2011
A blend of Montepulciano and Negroamaro from the Hedgehog vineyard. 18 months in new French oak. Unfiltered. Only 4,962 bottles produced.
Dark purplish damson colour. Very youthful looking. Straight into savoury intensity with that lovely Italianate sour-cherry bite and sweet oak spice to counterbalance. Dense, dark, savoury but still vibrant with dark cherry fruit and spice. A baby that needs more time in the bottle but already has balance as well as depth. Firm but fine-grained tannins and oak sweetness at the very end. Impressive length. Weight but no heaviness. (JH)