The Wine Advocate 93
"This comes mostly from the Wolf vineyard with some fruit from the Middle Ranch vineyard. The 2017 Edna Valley Chardonnay opens with wonderful aromas of honeycomb, orange blossoms, saline, crushed shell and loads of baked apple and quince with an earthy undercurrent. The palate is medium-bodied, satiny and intense, with seamless freshness on the finish, which lingers with honeyed notions." ~ EB
Jeffrey Patterson was reticent to make pronouncements on quality when I asked him about the latest vintages at Mount Eden. “2016, 2017 and 2018 are wines in progress for me,” he explains. “I haven’t focused on their ultimate quality. It takes a while for me to formulate a strong opinion about a vintage until it’s been in bottle at least five or six years. Our wines tend to age really slowly, and it’s also an emphasis we have in our winemaking. I focus on longevity because if I do my job correctly, I can make wines that age 25 years. The vineyards have that potential. It’s always been a mystery to me why this place, this mountain, can have such longevity. It’s a signature of the Santa Cruz Mountains, that long term ageability.” Stylistically, he links the wines to those of France. “I always get a certain impression from these wines,” he says. “More soil-driven notes, more tannin and acid, lower alcohol than most California wines—a lot of the character of French wines. But they also have a generosity and richness typical of California. Every year, I don’t know why, we get a style of wine that has both. It’s an elevation-based appellation, and you have to be above the fog. But it’s not connected to any other California wine region. The Santa Cruz Mountains stands alone.”
Patterson has a unique perspective on the appellation where he has made wine since 1981. “From 1981 to 2013, we started picking in September,” he recalls. “In 2014 to 2017, we started picking in August. I’m particularly happy with the 2014 vintage. The wines came out really strong across the board. It was the nadir of the drought. We had incredibly little rainfall—14 inches all year. I’ve never recorded that number before in my life. But the wines turned out very round, full, plush and really delicious. But I think the effect of the 2014 vintage was manifested more in 2015. The 2015s have much more of an angularity to them, much more of a drought influence. 2016 broke the drought. It was almost normal in terms of our winter rain. We don’t do any irrigation. We started harvesting on August 19, slightly later than in 2015.”
Ellie Patterson noted, “We had the heat spike too in 2017. It was 106 degrees for two days. But it was a relatively cool summer otherwise. We had picked quite a bit of the estate fruit before the heat wave.”
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"Few wineries in California create more profound, distinctive wines than Mount Eden. Indeed, if I were to present to a visiting European, say, the wines of just one California winery to demonstrate the originality of California wine, I'd choose Mount Eden Vineyards."
– Matt Kramer, New California Wine
Mount Eden Vineyards is a small, historic wine estate located on a 2000 foot peak in the Santa Cruz Mountain Appellation, about 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Martin Ray in 1945, it is recognized as one of the original boutique California Winery properties, focusing on small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Mount Eden Vineyard has been continuously producing estate bottled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay longer than anyone else in California.
Planted in austere, infertile Franciscan shale on a cool, exposed mountaintop, the 40 acre vineyard is farmed sustainably without any irrigation. It is comprised of 7 acres of Pinot Noir, 20 acres of Chardonnay and 13 acres of Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. In 2007 they purchased the former Cinnabar vineyard on a neighboring mountain top. Planted in 1983, this mature vineyard brought another 12 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a little Cabernet Sauvignon. They renamed the property Domaine Eden and it has become the primary source for their Domaine Eden wines.
Winemaker and Proprietor Jeffrey Patterson has been making wine at Mount Eden since 1981. With three decades under his belt, he continues with the same goal as when he started: to express this singular vineyard. Fermentation is done with native yeasts, oak influence is kept minimal, and fining and filtering are minimal when used at all.
Few wineries in California have the sort of history that is found at Mount Eden and few wineries in the world can match the level of quality being produced here. This is a unique terroir being overseen by conscientious stewards and these are wines that could not possibly have come from anywhere else in the world. It's as pointless to compare these wines to Burgundy and Bordeaux as it is to compare them to the rest of California; these wines are Mount Eden, pure and simple.