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.