Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2001 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

The 2001 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains ($25-30) shows Bordeaux like aromas of smoky oak, cassis and lead pencil. On the palate the oak structure and tannins surround a core of cherry and cassis fruits with a hint of sage and a dollop of vanilla. The excellent tannin structure is supple and refined. Long finish of smoky fruit and toasty oak. Well made and one of the better Cabernets from a consistent producer from California. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc.

I first had Mount Eden about 7 years ago when I lived in San Francisco. Immediately I was struck by what a great wine this was for such a weak vintage (1998). I visited the Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries last spring but never made it to Mount Eden because they were not open on the weekends to visitors. I did however make it to the renowned Ridge Vineyard run by the legendary Paul Draper and to Bonny Doon Vineyard, known for their eclectic artwork on the labels as well as the founding father of the Rhone Rangers Randall Grahm.

Mount Eden Vineyards is located on a 2,000-foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Saratoga, California. Founded in 1942 by Martin Ray, Mount Eden was one of the first wineries to focus on small lots of single varietal Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon at a time when most of California was making jug wines. Martin ray was a pioneer in the likes of AndrĂ© Tchelistcheff (Beaulieu Vineyards or “BV”) and John Daniel Jr. (Inglenook, Coppola and now Rubicon Estate). Mount Eden claims their “…lineage of estate bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the longest in California”.

Since 1981 Jeffrey Patterson has guided the winemaking and grape growing at Mount Eden. His emphasis is on wine growing rather than winemaking. He lets the grapes make the wine and tries not to intervene.

The Chardonnay and Cabernet are well distributed. The Pinot Noir may take a little effort to hunt down.

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