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.
This is a Cabernet that shows serious density. There is a notable depth of flavour, texture, vibrancy, and richness. The nose is all nuanced black currant, graphite, and mountain flowers, while the palate is balanced by abundant tannin and acid. 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 young wine was aged in new French oak for nearly two years before it was bottled, unfiltered and unfined, and aged another two years prior to release. It has a long life ahead. The winery prides itself in an “Old World” style, and note that this is the most compelling vin de garde they’ve produced in the last three decades.
“Mount Eden’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon represents the essence of what Cabernet Sauvignon is all about in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Deep, powerful and explosive, the 2016 simply has it all. A wine of tremendous depth and intensity. Readers, take note. This is world class Cabernet Sauvignon that in any other region would cost 2-3 times as much. Savoury and expansive, with tons of mountain character and remarkable richness from low yields in 2016, the Cabernet Sauvignon is simply off the charts. It’s another utterly breathtaking wine from Mount Eden.”
98 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Sept 2020