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Mount Eden Vineyards

Owner(s) Jeffrey Patterson
Web site www.mounteden.com
 
Link to this site
Mount Eden Vineyards

Mount Eden is a viticultural island perched at 2,000 feet uniquely planted to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Martin Ray was a fabled maverick who was the founder of the original namesake winery on this site, the Martin Ray Winery. Ray had owned the Paul Masson Winery in Saratoga and sold it to Joseph E. Seagram & Sons in 1943. He purchased 160 acres high above Saratoga in 1942 and another 160-acre parcel lower down the slope a few years later. After planting his vineyards in 1945, he started his innovative winery at Mount Eden in the early 1950s.

Ray estate bottling his wines, used small oak cooperage, bottled his wines in heavy glass bottles and sold his varietal-labeled wines at very high prices for the time. He was driven to produce ultra-premium wine but his wines were uneven in quality with some approaching greatness and others just plan ordinary. Ray eventually left the winery over disputes with shareholders, and the winery became Mount Eden Vineyards beginning in 1972.

Jeffrey Patterson has been the winemaker since 1981, a remarkable longevity for a California winemaker. When he first arrived in 1981 to interview for a winemaking job, the partners were embroiled in dispute, the winemaking equipment was outdated, and none of the recent winemakers had lasted long. After the exit of winemaker Fred Peterson, the shareholders hired Jeffrey and his wife, Ellie, as the management team. The couple became majority owners in 2008. They reside on the property in Martin Ray's old house.

Mount Eden's lineage of estate bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the longest in California. Replanting of the 34-acre vineyard began in 1984 with 20% of the vines propagated from the original bud wood, with the rest planted to multiple Pinot Noir clones including UCD 37 (Mount Eden clone), Winery Lake, Swan and Calera, as well as Dijon clones 115, 667, 777 and 828. The Estate Pinot Noir is a mosaic of all of these clones. The vines continue to be dry-farmed.

Jeffrey modernized the winery and equipment (originally located under the house) and did most of the work in the cellar himself. He currently oversees 53 acres of estate vineyards.

The site is truly unique, for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon exist together in harmony. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are planted at the cooler crown of the hill around 2,000 feet, and the Cabernet Sauvignon is planted on the warmer, lower slopes. The Cabernet Sauvignon was reportedly sourced originally from Chateau Margaux via the La Cuesta Vineyard in Woodside. The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay came from budwood that Paul Masson brought to the United States from France in the early 1900s. Part of the Pinot Noir, and all of the Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are massale selections from the historic vines on the property.

The Mount Eden Estate Pinot Noir is an Old World style which is more austere than opulent and ages very well (the ideal drinking window is between 7 and 10 years after release). A Mount Eden Vineyards Saratoga Cuvee Pinot Noir is a blend of three vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains: Mount Eden, Santa Cruz Mountain and Woodside and is crafted for early drinking. Production is 4,000 cases of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from the estate vineyard, a small amount of total production

About 16,000 cases of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced from purchased grapes. In 2007, Mount Eden acquired the Cinnabar winery and vineyards in the Saratoga foothills, located one ridge to the south of Mount Eden. This has been named Domaine Eden and offers earlier drinking wines that are in part composed of purchased fruit. Mount Eden Vineyards Saratoga Cuvée Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are produced from declassified estate grapes, grapes grown nearby, and Mount Eden’s satellite vineyard five miles to the south. Mount Eden Vineyards also produces non-estate Chardonnays from the central coast of California, primarily MacGregor Vineyard in Edna Valley. This Chardonnay is fermented and aged in the same manner as the Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay, contrasting only in the signature of the vineyard. Patterson consults on a number of winery projects including the recently revived Mountain Winery in Saratoga.

Mount Eden wines are offered twice yearly through a mailing list. There is some retail distribution, particularly of the Domaine Eden wines. Annual production is 17,000 cases, 65% of which is estate grown. There is no tasting offered but weekday tours are available by appointment (408-867-5832).

Reviewed Wines

2010 Mount Eden Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

pH 3.45, TA 0.85, 804 cases, $N/A. Harvested at 23.5º Brix. Aged in 70% new French oak barrels. · One of the flagship wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. A connoisseur’s wine with class and sophistication. Still young, but showing vivid red fruits with good concentration, lively acidity, and a polished, focused finish that displays the electricity associated with minerality. Beautiful integration of oak. Exceptional. Reviewed April 13, 2013 ARTICLE »

2009 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 780 cases, $45. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Very nice array of aromas including dark grapes, black cherries and cardamom spice. Absolutely delicious, mid weight flavors of dark red cherries and berries with a long, long, long finish. Wow! Beautifully balanced with fine-grain tannins, moderate extraction and bright, juicy acidity on the finish. This is a wine you can bank every vintage. Known to be very age worthy. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2009 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 780 cases, $49. Grown and bottled at the estate 2,000 feet above the floor of the Santa Clara Valley. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Muted but attractive nose offering aromas of berry cobbler and pumpkin spice. Really wakes up the mouth with flavors of dark red raspberries and strawberries, black cherries and plum sauce with complimentary oak. Very classy juice with well-mannered tannins, and bright acidity on the remarkably long, mineral-driven finish. A clear statement of terroir. Very young, becoming more interesting and fruity over time in the glass, and simply great two days later from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Best to decant if you must drink now. Reviewed November 2, 2011 ARTICLE »

2008 Mount Eden Vineyards Domaine Eden Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

15.0% alc., $32. This wine can easily be confused with Mount Eden Estate which is a horse of a different color. This is a newer brand from Mount Eden Vineyards that resulted from the purchase of the Cinnabar Winery and Vineyard (but not the brand or inventory) in late 2007. The main reason for the purchase was to acquire the winery because Mount Eden had outgrown its limited production facility. Most of the Domaine Eden Vineyard is planted to Pinot Noir. Since the soils are different, the Pinot Noir from Domaine Eden is completely different from the Mount Eden Pinot Noir even though it is vinified by the long time Mount Eden winemaker, Jeffrey Patterson. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. The nose features aromas of slightly roasted darker fruits with oak-driven scents of tobacco, black tea and old cask. Fruity and linear offering black plum, blackberry jam, Concord grape and raisin flavors. An awkward overripe fruited wine that disappoints. Decent at best. Reviewed January 11, 2012 ARTICLE »

2008 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 985 cases, $46. Estate grown and bottled. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Nicely composed aromatic profile of cherries, strawberries, savory herbs, and oak blossoming in the glass over time. A magnificent Burgundian styled wine with vivid, high-pitched red cherry, raspberry and cranberry flavors framed by lively acidity and fine grain tannins, and beautifully underlain with minerality. Has the balance to age for 20 years. After so many years at the helm, winemaker Jeffrey Patterson knows his vineyard and consistently offers Pinot Noirs styled with the type of charm and restraint that is often lacking in so many fruit driven California Pinot Noirs. A great food wine that should be cause for celebration. (See Bucket List at end of this issue). Reviewed November 24, 2010 ARTICLE »

2008 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., 985 cases, $46. Estate grown and bottled. Previously reviewed November 24, 2010 and very impressed with the wine. This bottle did not live up to expectations for whatever reason. · Aromas of red cherries with a strong herbal and green component. Brisk and light on the palate, featuring flavors of red cherries and berries, savory herbs, and citrus peel acidity on the tight finish. Rather austere and mineral-driven. Better the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle with more fruit intensity but still not up to parr. Good. Reviewed June 24, 2012 ARTICLE »

2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

Tasted briefly at the 2009 World of Pinot Noir. · While the 2006 vintage Estate Pinot Noir is quite showy for a Mount Eden wine, the 2007 vintage is more in step with the usual program. Rather austere raspberry fruit with noticeable oak on the nose and grippy tannins on the finish. Plenty to like here, but this wine is a Lolita. Reviewed March 15, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

13.8% alc., 1,375 cases, $42. · Moderate straw color in the glass. Aromas of fresh-picked apples and toasty oak. Flavorful, mildly creamy and smooth with impeccable balance and breeding. Delicious flavors of baked apples, pears, citrus, honey and vanilla caramel. Restrained and nuanced, becoming more layered and interesting with time in the glass. A California classic that will age for years. Reviewed May 15, 2011 ARTICLE »

2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

14.2% alc., 2,387 cases, $48. Fermented on wild yeast in 50% new and one-year-old French Burgundy oak barrels (Sirigue and Francois Freres) and aged 10 months with no movement whatsoever. Lightly filtered before bottling. · Clean aromas of pineapple, toast and lemon zest with delicate flavors of lemon curd, butter and herbs. Crisp and refreshing. Not as showy as the 2005 vintage, displaying more Burgundian austerity. Very good. Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 668 cases, $48. A drought vintage (the worse since 1976). Despite the weather, the crop size was normal. Fermented on native yeasts with spontaneous MLF. Unfined and unfiltered. · More stacked and packed than usual for Mount Eden Pinot Noir, this wine has lovely scents of crushed plums and Morroccan spice followed on the palate with full-bodied black cherry and black plum flavors. There is deft use of oak, the acid spine is well proportioned, and the ripe, dry tannins caress the fruit, bringing the wine to a rich and powerful finish. Will continue to improve in the bottle. Very good and may eclipse the 2006 vintage over time. Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Mount Eden Vineyards Saratoga Cuvée Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.9% alc., $30. Grapes for this blend come from three vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains: Woodside, Mount Eden and Santa Cruz Mountain. · Light ruby color. Appealing aromas of cherries, strawberries, herbs and roasted nuts. On the palate the wine is reserved with flavors focused on cherry enhanced by herbs and spice. The tannins are fine, the acidity is lively and the finish is tangy and slightly citric. A pleasant, simple wine for early consumption. Reviewed March 15, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 870 cases, $43. A historic estate founded in 1945. This wine is from older Pinot Noir selections grown at 2,000 feet above the Santa Clara Valley floor. Jeffrey Patterson has been the winemaker since 1981. . · Muted and delicate aromas of herbed berry fruit with a hint of sage and pumpkin spice. The nose opens and gains intensity with time in the glass. A light, elegantly styled wine featuring herbed berry fruit that is slightly tart and a little austere secondary to the brisk acidity. This Pinot Noir screams for food and I found it a perfect accompaniment to chicken curry. This is not a wine for those who prefer a hunky, extracted, bold style. Reviewed October 1, 2008 ARTICLE »

2006 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., 870 cases, $45. Yields were 4 tons per acre. · Redder-toned color. Very sexy aromas of wild berries, cherries, root beer, herbs and a touch of spice. There is a rainbow of middleweight red fruits touched by dirt, minerals and herbs. The wine doesn’t assault the palate (no “bombs bursting in the air”) but seduces with restraint, finesse and appropriate refreshing acidity. It was fine the next day from a re-corked previously opened bottle, showing more toast, leather and oak and a satiny texture. This wine is the best of both worlds: it can be drunk and enjoyed now, especially with food, or it can be aged for up to 10 years. It is a distinctive Pinot Noir that will not appeal to the fruit hedonist but will speak to those who truly understand wine and terroir. Reviewed March 15, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

13.8% alc., $48. · I have tasted this wine numerous times and it has always been precocious and flashy. Bright and juicy earth and spicedusted black cherry fruit that sticks around in the mouth creating a long and lush impression on the finish. Absolutely delicious. Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »

2005 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

Table wine, 1,250 cases. A challenging year with poor fruit set. · Rich and toasty with more oak evident throughout. Concentrated citrus and mineral flavors accented by a prominent butteriness. More California in character. Very good. Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

Table wine. · Very slight yellowing. Aromas of brown butter and roasted nuts. Maturing nicely with flavors of white stone fruits and citrus and a clean finish. Decent (+). Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »

2002 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir

Table wine. · This wine veers to the austere side featuring lean aromas and flavors of cherries, berries, savory herbs, loam and green stems. Still sporting healthy tannins. Lacking charm at present and may be a slightly off bottle. Reviewed November 13, 2009 ARTICLE »