Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon strikes a chord that's personally, truly incomparable When it comes to American wine it's the singular combination of place and grape that conjures a craving within me like nothing else. While current release Ridge Monte Bello at $200 per bottle is perhaps the appellation's most rightfully recognized star, the wines of Mount Eden Vineyards tend to be overlooked. And to be honest, this affords us all an opportunity. For me, these are the among the greatest wines being produced in America, and with their stellar track record of aging they're also the first wine I reach for from my favorite appellation.
In the 1890's when Emmett Rixford came back to the Santa Cruz Mountains with cuttings from Chateau Margaux the birth of world-recognized American Cabernet Sauvignon began. Rixford planted his La Questa vineyard with the same proportions of varieties that were found at Margaux. As the years progressed Napa Valley began to dominate the California Cabernet landscape, but that original plant material found its way a little further south and into the porous Franciscan shale soil 2,000 feet up at Mount Eden Vineyards.
Today, Jeffrey and Ellie Patterson are responsible for the rise in success of this estate that's seen ups and downs from its inception. The low yields from these depleted shale soils have always meant this project had to be a labor of love rather than an easy money-making endeavor. The couple first moved to a cottage on the vineyard in 1978, and through the past four decades have brought Mount Eden Vineyards to its current status.
The easy descriptor for the wines from these hills has always been a middle ground between Bordeaux and Napa Valley. This illustration helps those that are new to the wines of the region, but it's also an oversimplification that I've been guilty of for years. The shale soils here are responsible for much of the structure from this blend containing Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. The yields are typically between 1 to 2 tons/acre, which is painfully small for any winery. This combo of yields and the nature of the terroir with its mild growing season gives us Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant wines that are full of graphite, tobacco, and densely concentrated black fruited characteristics. But, they also remain extremely perfumed in glass with lavender and wild herbs in concert.
John Gilman's classic-leaning palate is always the first voice I turn to in California. In issue #63 of View from the Cellar he dives deep into the estate :
"...The wines here at Mount Eden Vineyards remain utterly superb and should be on everyone’s short list of must have estates from this outstanding region of California, as Mount Eden remains one of the greatest producers in the United States today."
Today's offer extends back through the 1984 release. With a healthy decant the current releases of 2013 and 2012 show their best. A small amount of estate Pinot Noir is also available from the strong 2002 Santa Cruz Mountains vintage. If you're not familiar with Mount Eden I highly recommend you take the opportunity to taste these wines from this cherished historical estate.
2012 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$73 per bottle.
2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$73 per bottle.
2013 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir
$62 per bottle.
2010 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$76 per bottle.
2003 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir
$77 per bottle.
2002 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$118 per bottle.
2001 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$118 per bottle.
1992 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon "Old Vine Reserve" 3.0L
$799 per bottle.
1984 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
$179 per bottle.