Mount Eden is a perennial favourite of mine. They are one of the original estate of California, tracing their origins back to Paul Masson’s winery founded in 1900. Vines at the Masson vineyards survived that mistake by taking advantage of the sacramental wine exemption. The estate was purchased by Martin Ray in the 1930’s – Ray grew up near the vineyard and made money in stocks. Soon after he sold the estate to Seagrams and bought the one next door – it was that adjacent estate that became Mount Eden and is home to one of California’s finest heritage Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards. The Martin Ray vineyard was planted with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay cuttings from Masson’s vineyard, which Masson sourced from Burgundy. To fully appreciate the importance of this one must recall that at the time, California wine was generally poor quality, blended, and of no reputation whatsoever. To dedicate a vineyard to single varieties and premium quality at the time was an utter rarity.
What I love about Mount Eden is that it is deeply entrenched in California history and the best of its traditions and more than a few of its flaws. Martin Ray lost the vineyard due to an aggressive style that fell out with his partners. The partners that took it over hired Merry Edwards in to make wine in 1974-1976, and further established the winery’s reputation. Later, in the 1980’s Mount Eden retained Jeffrey Patterson as winemaker, a true Berkeley success story, having received a degree in biology from that school in 1975. That was just at the time when Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and Kermit Lynch opened their businesses, changing California’s (and America’s) food scene forever. Those influences were strong on Patterson.
Patterson continues as winemaker at the winery today. He has since become a majority shareholder as well. The continuity of purpose at this site is a beautiful expression of the essence of authentic wine-making. In the end, the craft came to dominate the commerce – as a result those lucky few of us can experience the apex of a cultural tradition that took root over 100 years ago.
It’s thus simple for me to say this is a wine I drink in each vintage and of multiple bottles. It is a wine that is truly site and vintage expressive.
The 2013 offers acidity and a mineral-forward style of mid-weight Pinot Noir. The vintage is brighter than others from the Santa Cruz Mountains, but it suits the grapes well. The 2013 is also a drought vintage, and harvest was in August. This comes out in the clearly challenged and thus vibrant fruit, complete with a very complex bouquet of red fruit.
$108 + tax at Marquis Wine Cellars