2014 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate Cabernet
From the winery:
“Mount Eden’s estate vineyards began to be developed in 1945 by the legendary vintner Martin Ray on a rugged mountaintop in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today, the site consists of 40 acres of low-yielding Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc vines. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were propagated from selections brought to California by French winemaker Paul Masson, while the Cabernet Sauvignon came from Emmett Rixford’s historic La Questa Vineyard in Woodside, California. Mount Eden is considered to have the longest lineage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in North America.
“Planted in infertile Franciscan shale, the vineyards are 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean and enjoy a cool, but sunny climate above the fog line. Harvest normally begins in the first weeks of September and finishes around the end of October, occasionally going into early November. The combination of a long growing season and naturally low yields allows slow, steady maturation of the grapes and the concomitant intensification of their flavors. This process is enhanced by vertically training the vines to maximize the exposure of the grape clusters to sunlight and by thinning the crop, when necessary, to ensure yields do not exceed two tons per acre.
“The heritage of Mount Eden Cabernet Sauvignon dates back to the 1890s, when the famed viticulturist Emmett Rixford of Woodside, California, obtained selected cuttings from Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux, France. Rixford planted his famous La Questa Vineyard with these selections, in the same proportions as found at Margaux.
“In the late 1940s Martin Ray planted his first Cabernet vineyard with cuttings from the La Questa Vineyard. The present-day Estate Cabernet Sauvignon vines were planted in the early 1980s using cuttings taken from these vines. Yields are low, typically one to two tons per acre. Soils are very thin (1-12 inches), with a dominant base of Franciscan shale. The climate is cool, especially for Cabernet, and influenced by the vineyard’s altitude and its proximity to San Francisco bay and the Pacific Ocean. The vines are trellised in a modern fashion, which allows for a more uniform ripening. The vineyard also contains small blocks of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.”
“One of the finest vintages of this cuvée I’ve tasted, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a thrill a minute with its fabulous bouquet of crème de cassis, charcoal embers, spice, and subtle vanilla oak aromas and flavors. Possessing medium to full body, an incredibly layered, seamless texture, moderate acidity, and present, ripe tannins, it has some upfront charm given its purity of fruit and texture, but deserves 3-4 years of bottle age and is going to keep for two decades. This beauty rivals Ridge’s Monte Bello and is an incredible example of Cabernet Sauvignon grown in this mountain terroir” – Jeb Dunnuck
“One of California’s original boutique wineries, Mount Eden Vineyards was founded in 1945 by Paul Masson and Martin Ray. Winemaker Jeffrey Patterson has led this low-yielding estate since 1981, attributing its success to wine-growing, rather than winemaking. Surprisingly the heritage of the winery’s Cabernet Sauvignon vines can be traced back to the 1890s, when viticulturist Emmett Rixford obtained cuttings from Château Margaux in Bordeaux. Stephen Brook: Black fruits nose, with discreet new oak. Surprisingly approachable with a ripe fruit mid-palate. Vibrant, deft and fruity style. Alex Hunt MW: The palate has just the right ratio of gloss to structure; a firm core beautifully fleshed out by fruit. Impeccable harmony here. Stefan Neumann MS: Delicate, earthy aromas lead to a compact core with ripe fruit. Great potential, with great acid to back up the power.” – Decanter
“It’s rare to find a cabernet with such elegance and precision that’s also firmly grounded in the grandeur of the Pacific coast. Jeffrey Patterson grew it on 13 acres of vines he planted in the early 1980s: He propagated the plants from three acres Martin Ray had established on the property in the 1930s, having selected cuttings from La Questa Vineyard, a site Emmett Rixford had planted in the late 19th century, with cuttings he imported from Château Margaux. The third generation of those immigrant vines now prospers on a ridgetop 15 miles from the ocean, where they grow fresh, ripe grapes and sustain a robust community of yeasts to ferment those grapes into this fragrant, bright cherry-scented wine. It’s delicate and brisk, tingling with cool, hunger-inducing juiciness, even as its stature and staying power suggest waiting ten years or more to get the most out of this California original.” – Wine & Spirits