“The Santa Cruz Mountains AVA saw pioneers like Paul Masson come to life, and became home to Paul Draper’s legendary Ridge wines. But Mount Eden, founded in 1945, precedes the boom before the wave before the seed that grew into the California wine industry as we know it today. In other words, this is an original. The estate Pinot is similarly classic, offering dense, dark fruits, layered alongside herbs, cinnamon and earth. It’s plush, velvety and mouthwatering, with a long, long finish.”
“The 30 Pinot Noirs to Drink if You Want to Be a Real Expert”, Food & Wine, September 2018
Mount Eden’s vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains have a rich history: Martin Ray planted Pinot Noir at Mount Eden in 1945. The canes came from Paul Masson’s original vineyard near Mount Eden; because Masson was a good friend of the Louis Latour family of Burgundy, it is likely the selection came from one of Latour’s finest vineyards and was brought by Masson to California in the 1880’s. The faith Ray demonstrated in this difficult red wine variety, at a time when America had little appreciation of fine wine, was remarkable. Today, Pinot Noir vines occupy seven acres of the estate vineyard and typically yield a meager one to one-and-a-half tons per acre.
Pinot Noir is the first variety harvested at Mount Eden, kicking off the vintage season. Using natural yeasts, fermentation is conducted in small open-top fermentors and extends ten to 14 days, with the must punched down by hand. The new wine is immediately put into French Burgundy barrels (75% new and 25% one-year-old). It matures for 18 months before it is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Nothing is added, nothing is taken away.
Thanks to the vineyard soils, the Estate Pinot Noir’s elegant, transparent style is more Burgundian than Californian, emphasizing wild strawberry, earth, blueberry, and herbal qualities. Cellaring the wine from five to 12 years pays handsome rewards.
“Brilliantly fresh and snappy black raspberry aromas lead into a savoury streak of mulberry-laced pork fat, hickory and tobacco smoke, with a hint of crushed slate on this wine’s fascinating and shape-shifting nose. Peppery spice grips the palate immediately, then splashes fresh red plum and pomegranate flavours around, finishing on white pepper, cracked nutmeg and unrelenting tension.”
96 points, Wine Enthusiast, Dec 2018
“Seeing roughly one-third whole clusters and a mix of new and neutral oak, the 2015 Pinot Noir Estate is another terrific wine from this benchmark estate. Possessing a more structured, backward feel as well a deep powerful nose of black currants, charcoal, and scorched earth, this is a serious, age-worthy Pinot Noir that needs 3-4 years of bottle age yet will see its 20th birthday in fine form.”
96 points, JebDunnuck.com, Feb 2019
“The 2015 Pinot Noir offers notable depth and textural richness, but it is also very closed in on itself. The aromatics and fruit density are both hugely promising, but readers should plan on being patient with the 2015, as it needs time. Whole cluster inflections from the 35% stems add savoriness throughout. The 2015 is a fabulous wine in the making. Harvest began between August 8 and 10, which is shockingly early.”
94 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Aug 2018