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Drinkability

Tasting Notes at Release: October 2002
Farming these old guys requires a good sense of humor. Regardless of the year they give what they choose and they always choose just a little. Yet, that little bit is awfully good, especially in a Cabernet year like 1999.


Produced from vines planted by the late Martin Ray in the 1950's, this mountaintop site has no soil, no water, and no trellis system. These plants have been through it all. Respect is all we have for these old warriors.

The vintage got off to a slow start given an extremely cold and late winter (it snowed twice in April). After the weather returned to normal, we enjoyed a great growing season, albeit a late one. Harvest commenced in November under cool, dry conditions with the late-ripening Cabernet at full expression.

This is entirely Cabernet Sauvignon in contrast to our more "modern" estate version which is blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Martin Ray would have it no other way. The primary issue with unblended Cabernet Sauvignon is a matter of balanced structure and harmony. The grape is unusually small and thick-skinned, giving wines a lot of density and tannins, especially high in the mountains. While these attributes give longevity and muscle, what is often missing is nuance and suppleness. With our Old Vine Reserve, however, the vines' age yield wines of soft tannins, terroir and drinkablity, not to mention graceful aging potential. Soft, supple, and harmonious textures give uniqueness and contemplation.

This is the penultimate "Old Vine" from a beautiful vintage. Rare, historic and profound.
 


 

 
Wine Spectator Weekly February 27, 2003  HOT WINES  
   
92 Ridge Monte Bello is the most famous Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet, but Mount Eden often makes a compelling Cabernet (not to mention Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) from its old, shybearing mountain vineyard. I like this wine for its understated elegant and pleasant earthiness. It also ages well in the best years, such as 1999 (the 1993 is just starting to peak). It shows more intensity and concentration than the 2000 Estate, a more forward and fleshy wine (88 points) that is being released at the same time. The '99 is a dense, rich and distinctive wine, with baseline currant, earth, anise, herb and wildflower aromas. Sleek, complex and concentrated, you can chew on the rich layers of sweet ripe fruit, yet the firm tannins show signs of softness and elegance. Drink now through 2012. From California.-J.L.