2016 Mount Eden Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains.
Jeffery Patterson’s 2016 Estate Pinot Noir is a California Grand Cru with incredible impact on the palate and luxurious layering on the rich medium bodied palate and an outstanding long finish, this Mount Eden Vineyards which I tasted at the Slow Wine tasting in San Francisco is gorgeous wine with loads of personality and concentrated fruit. Small yields and hillside vines give this wine a powerful feel, but still is wonderfully supple with black cherry, raspberry, plum and red current fruits and well integrated toasty oak, a light mineral tone, floral aromatics, a hint of earth and orange tea. This dark ruby and garnet Pinot, which really benefits from being served at true cellar temperature should get a meal wrapped around its presence at the table with duck breast in cherry or fruit reduction being a good choice, though fresh blackened salmon would be nice too. As always, this spectacular wine is a masterpiece of structure and will likely age two decades and if opened now will need some time to reveal its treasures, so decant gently and take your time enjoying it. The sweet French oak will get your attention with shaved vanilla and smokiness, but will fade into the background as the fruit comes alive in the glass. When you talk about great wines in California, Mount Eden must be in that conversation and the Santa Cruz Mountains terroir with its Franciscan shale soils and ocean influence is rightly one of the best regions in the state with a long history of legendary wines. Patterson, as he notes, says his Pinot Noir is the first variety harvested at Mount Eden, is crafted with 100% natural yeasts in his cool cellar, its fermentation is done in small open-top fermentor(s) with about fourteen days needed to complete primary, all with gentle hand pilage (punch-downs). After which the Estate Pinot is then immediately put into 75% new and 25% one-year-old French Burgundy barrels, where It is raised for nearly eighteen months with slow natural malos. As with all the Estate wines Patterson bottles his top Pinot unfined and unfiltered, not wanting to lose any subtle nuance and keep all the pure flavors.

Mount Eden Vineyards, as noted here, 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 respect from their peers, these wines continue to be some of the best in California, check out the latest Estate lineup of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and this Pinot Noir.
($65 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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