Grapelive: Wine of the Day May 9, 2019

2015 Mount Eden, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains -photo grapelive

2015 Mount Eden Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
The 2015 Mount Eden Estate Pinot Noir by Jeffery Patterson is an absolute stunner with everything you’d expect from this address, one of the state’s best wine producers and unique terroirs. Patterson, one of California’s most renown vignerons, doesn’t always get mentioned as he should and shuns the spotlight, but is a certain hall of famer when it comes to California wine, with the likes of Rochioli, Williams Selyem, Calera, Chalone and Hanzell, just to name a few, and this gorgeous 2015 vintage shows why and along with his Chardonnay are in the top ten of the vintage. Mount Eden’s Pinot is planted on infertile Franciscan shale soils, the vineyards are 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean on rugged mountaintop in the Santa Cruz Mountains and enjoy a cool, but sunny climate above the fog line, it comes from vines that were propagated from selections brought to California by French winemaker Paul Masson, who was himself from Burgundy and knew where to get good cuttings, but these Pinot vines are now known as Mount Eden clone. Patterson’s Estate Pinot Noir vines occupy just seven acres of the property vineyard and typically yield a meager one to one-and-a-half tons per acre making for a concentrated and complex wine that rivals the world’s best. Deep in color and textural quality the ruby/garnet hued 2015 delivers an amazing performance in the glass and should age for decades with a lovely combination of rich detail, a perfumed nose, an elegant parade of black and red fruits as well as having structural balance and vitality, this is special stuff. Patterson notes, his Pinot Noir is the first variety harvested at Mount Eden, as is made with 100% natural yeasts, its fermentation is done in small open-top fermentor(s) with about fourteen days needed, all with hand pilage (punch-downs). After primary is done the Pinot is then immediately put into 75% new and 25% one-year-old French Burgundy barrels, where It is raised for eighteen months with slow natural malos before being bottled unfined and unfiltered. Layered and wonderfully expressive the Mount Eden Estate 2015 shows blackberry, plum and strawberry fruits around a core of black cherry as well as having a touch of sweet smoke, earthy tones, wilted rose petals, candied blood orange, tea spices and a touch of cinnamon and shaved vanilla. This is a stylish and luxurious Pinot Noir, that while quite densely packed and gripping, has tremendous mouth feel and length, a seductive mineral streak which comes out with air and don’t let that new wood fool you, this wine is all about the purity of form it is gorgeous in dimension and has absorbed the oak almost completely leaving the stage for that impressive fruit.

Mount Eden is one of the most celebrated and cherished small boutique wineries in California making estate Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from their vines 2,000 feet up above what is now Silicon Valley, it was founded as Martin Ray Estate back in the mid 1940s and over the following 20 plus years became known for their Chard and Pinot. In 1970 Ray lost the property to an investor coup and in 1972 it became Mount Eden, and they hired Pinot guru Richard Graff who had founded Chalone, who crafted the legendary 1972 and 1973 vintages before the owners brought on the little known woman winemaker Merry Edwards, who is now a California icon! In the more modern era of Mount Eden Vineyards Jeffrey Patterson, winemaker has made the estate one of California’s absolute best, he was originally hired as the assistant winemaker back in 1981. Having graduated in biology from UC Berkeley in 1975, Patterson was fortunate to have been in Berkeley in the 1970s when local food and wine in the Bay Area were becoming relevant with the likes of Alice Waters creating a huge buzz. This is when she opened the famed Chez Panisse and Kermit Lynch had just started bringing in some of the great undiscovered wines of France, and the public were getting their first chance to explore French cuisine as well as have it paired with famous old world wines, all of which inspired and helped form Patterson’s future approach to his wines. He even took a three week honeymoon with his wife Ellie where they toured France including the cellars of Domaine Dujac and Domaine Leflaive, both of which left a great impression on this young winemaker who had just gone through enology and viticulture classes at UC Davis. From the early eighties after Jeffery and Ellie took over the running of Mount Eden things went from obscure successes to world wide stardom, and that level is still in full effect today, it especially shows in this 2015 Estate Pinot Noir. Thank you to Ellie Patterson for sharing their current releases with me recently, I am incredibly grateful for the experience. This is brilliant Pinot, and if you love Pinot you’ll want to get some of this to drink over the next 10 to 15 years and do not overlook the Estate Chardonnay, which is just as good, as well as their 2014 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon that is on par with Ridge and Corison, two of my favorite wines!
($65 Est.) 97 Points, grapelive