Mount Eden Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
Release Date: Spring 2002
Unlike most of California Cabernet vineyards ours are coastal and mountainous. The cool climate here, because of elevation and closeness to the Pacific ocean, creates high acidity and a slow ripening. The porosity and poverty of our mountaintop soils gives low yields and intensity of flavor. These two aspects shape our wine more than any other factor.
In the world of Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines the comparison of California and France is always there. Here in the Golden State, wines of intense fruit and soft, pliant textures abound giving us a style of immediate enjoyment. In the "Magic Kingdom" of France, elegant but backward wines begin their journey into our cellars only to emerge years later ready for the table. What happens here at Mount Eden is somewhat in the middle: opulent fruit married with noticeable acidity and structure for development. Like second-generation immigrants we don't seem to fit in either culture.
Now with that preamble, the '99 has slowly evolved into a fantastic Cabernet vintage. This was a very late year with final maturation not realized until November. Early assessments were good but not spectacular; however, toward the second year in barrel the vintage really started to bloom.
At this stage, seven months after final assemblage and bottling, the richness and vintage signature is still emerging. Deep currant perfume with accents of earth and toasty oak begin the aromas. Structured in the mouth with buoyant acidity and life-giving tannins, the abundance of blue fruits builds with every sip. The metamorphosis we witnessed from good to sublime was something to behold and is a testament to the mystery of fine wine.
There is sufficient stuffing here to support seven to ten years of development. At this time, however, the '99 is drinking beautifully.
Yield: 1.75 tons per acre Harvest: October 9th through November 6th Numbers @ Harvest: 22.4-23.4° Brix, 7.3- 6.6 grams acidity, 3.1- 3.4 pH Barrel Regimen: 65 barrels total; new to three years old, thin stave French oak with 20% American Oak (Minnesota) Bottling: August of 2001 no fining or filtration
88 (+?) points Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar - May/June 2002
Bright, saturated medium ruby. Perfumed aromas of wild crushed blackberry, tobacco and leather, plus a hint of dill pickle. Juicy but slightly green cabernet flavors of raw red- and blackcurrant and mint. The wine’s intensity and firm acid and tannin structure will require several years of bottle aging.