Three from Mount Eden Vineyards

Hello friends. One of the surprises of the year for me so far was the interest level in our April offer for a pair of Shebang wines from California. The message I took away was that there is more curiosity than I supposed in wines from our neighbor to the south’s neighbor to the south.

So we’ve been seeking out other examples of California wines that don’t have an easy counterpart in the Pacific Northwest, and recently we found some: the breathtaking wines of Mount Eden. The only drawback is that these wines landed in Seattle just as some breathless praise from Galloni was published, so this likely won’t be a try-some-and-then-reorder kind of offer. We’re likely to get just one shot at these.

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[TEXT WITHHELD].”

Mount Eden is a classic producer in a classic Cali region: the Santa Cruz Mountains. As you can see, the vineyards are tucked into the rolling peaks of this region that is just a stone’s throw from Silicon Valley. It’s the wide-ranging elevation differences, as well as differences in maritime influence, that yield microclimates diverse enough to grow everything from Pinot Noir to Cabernet in this region.

The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA was established in 1981, the same year that Jeffrey Patterson joined Mount Eden as assistant winemaker. Mount Eden Vineyards has a much longer history even than that (it was founded in 1945!), and their website does a terrific job of documenting that history, for those interested in more details.

2011 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 96pts.”

What more needs to be added to that? It is indeed a magnificent Chardonnay, full of an alpine sense of high mountain fruit and so far from the buttery Chards many of us associate with California as to beggar belief. It’s a total live-wire even with a fair amount of ripeness (14.5% listed alc) and a fair amount of new French oak (75%). Smoky and sultry and seductive with its mix of fruit and mineral, this is just glorious Cali Chardonnay.

2010 Mount Eden Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mtns

Vinous (Antonio Galloni): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 94+pts.”

The 2010 vintage was not just cool in Washington and Oregon, but along the entire west coast, and it shows here. Listed alc is 13.5%, and this offers a singing nose of blossoms and blackcurrants, dust and earth, green olive and mole poblano; no shortage of complexity. The oak is judicious (a mix of new and used French, and neutral American), the acids bright, the finish chewy but fine-grained, polished, classy. There’s a eucalyptus freshness here that’s just marvelous, and the overall package is brimming with character and personality.

2011 Mount Eden Vineyards Chardonnay Wolff Vineyard

And a little bonus Chardonnay. I was planning to focus on the Estate bottlings only, but for those of you who want a Mount Eden gateway-drug Chardonnay, this is it.

It comes from a 55-acre site in the Edna Valley, along the Central Coast outside of San Luis Obispo. Planted in 1976, it is the oldest vineyard in the Edna Valley, and Mount Eden has been working with this fruit since 1985. It’s some of the last Chardonnay harvested in California due to its cool location (this was picked October 17-24), and it’s raised in half-French, half-American oak, one-third new.

It clocks in at 13.8% listed alc, and it is a lovely gold in the glass. Earthy and lemony on the nose, it transitions into a super-intense palate, with bright lemon curd acids complementing a core of stone fruits (peaches, nectarines). There are subtleties of smoke and flower, and this possesses a supple creaminess, conveying fleshiness and pulsating vibrancy at once.

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (Josh Raynolds): “[REVIEW TEXT WITHHELD]. 90pts.”

Please limit order requests to 6 each of the Santa Cruz Chard and Cab, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The Wolff is first come first served up to 12 bottles. All three wines should arrive in about a week, at which point they will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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