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.
“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