The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA holds a special distinction: It is home to the only two estate-bottled mountain-grown Cabernets that are truly influenced by the Pacific Ocean. Both have been at it awhile. The first is Ridge Monte Bello (1962), the second is Mount Eden Estate. In 1945, legendary vintner Martin Ray began to develop Mount Eden’s estate vineyard on a rugged mountaintop in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Today, the site consists of 40 acres of low-yielding vines. Planted in infertile Franciscan shale, the vineyards are 25 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean, and enjoy a cool yet sunny climate above the fog line. The growing season here is long, and naturally low yields, along with slow, steady maturation, result in incredibly intense fruit.
If you appreciate the qualities that result in Bordeaux varietals grown on the edge – namely, low alcohols, earth-driven flavours, and unique terroir – Cabernet from the Santa Cruz Mountains are prime examples. These are lower alcohol wines with full flavours that evolve beautifully with time.
In Mount Eden’s 2013 release, estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon is backed by small quantities of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Fruit macerated in small open-top stainless steel tanks, and was then fermented by naturally occurring yeast. The new wine was aged in new French oak for nearly two years before it was bottled, unfiltered and unfined, and aged two years prior to release.
“A true classic, bursting with red and black fruit, vinesmoke and pencil shavings, and structured by fine tannin and bracing Santa Cruz acidity. Consistently one of the most ageworthy Cabernets in California, gaining in volume and expansiveness with time in the cellar, always vibrant and intense.”
95 points, Decanter, May 2016