TN: 2017 Mt Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

Keeping with the theme of drinking wines too young I had this beauty tonight. Right off the top, this wine clearly has so much potential if you have one wait another 5+ years. Tasting notes are limited because even though it’s elegant it is wound up, begging to be aged. Rich, concentrated, great acid. Fruit and herbs on the nose, menthol raspberries. Bright red fruit and herbs on the palate.
This is a great example of a cool climate California Cab (left bank Bordeaux blend).

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I tasted at Mount Eden at bit over 2 years ago and one of the wines we had was the 2017 Cabernet. Fabulous young wine. I agree that it is “begging to be aged.” Which that I had found Mount Eden 20-30 years ago, but it is what it is and so I bought a few bottles of 2007, 2011 and 2012 (in addition to some 2017) to get a head start.

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Just looking on their site, 2012 pricing is significantly less than any of their other back vintage available. Any idea why that is?

I have not tasted the 2012, but Gilman rated it 95

I just had a bottle of the 2012 last weekend and one right before Christmas. While it was a gorgeous wine, i do believe it is maturing quickly. It had a fair amount of primary fruit but there is some underlying leatheriness I associate with secondary aromas. Now two years ago when I had a 2012, it was tight and took 4 days to open up. I thought the wine would go another 20 years, no problem. Definitely not the case here if you have 750s. Maybe 7 to 10 max depending on how much you enjoy tertiary aromas. My bottles were purchased direct from the distributor who purchased them from the wineries library offering then went directly into my Artevino.

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It was generally a large production year. So, my guess is they have a surplus because of that.

Based on their production numbers listed on their site, its was pretty consistent with ~1525 cases between 2011-2013. Below is the pricing of library bottles from their site. Just seems weird, as I know 2011 was a very challenging year vs 2012.

Granted this from their site, so other outlets may have it priced similarly compared to its surrounding years

I’ve visited Mount Eden and followed them closely for around a decade now. I can’t think of an intentional reason for this pricing. Keep in mind they are run more like a family operation and less like a structured business. So it’s possible this was unintentional, or just some surplus stock accidentally left unsold that they are trying to move.

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Was just curious if there was something specific with the ‘12s that was known widespread. Sounds like not the case, which is great

The '12 was super accessible with its generous fruit (within the house style) on release and for a few years after that. The puppy fat is now gone though. Personally I think it’s a fantastic wine and would not hesitate to buy some.

I don’t think the price is an anomaly. I have to think it is mostly a question of how much they have left in the cellar. It may also have to do with their opinion of ageability.

These are 50 year wines. Just before COVID, I had the privilege to attend a vertical charity tasting of Mount Eden Cabernets. The oldest vintage was the 1973. It was stunningly beautiful, with nothing remotely tertiary about it (it also won a blind tasting I did of 1973 California Cabs in 1988).
Maybe they think the '12 is only a 30 - 40 year wine.

Dan Kravitz

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Dan,

What were some of your favorite and less favorite wines from your vertical tasting? Sounds like a great tasting.

Thank you for that great note!

You certainly made me want some!

Howard,

Here’s the link to the tasting thread.

Detailed notes were a little thin on the ground and we’re now back almost 6 years, so can’t be of more help.

Best,

Dan

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I think Gemello bought grapes from a variety of sources, including Monte Bello, as well as farming his own vineyard. They had a few dozen acres but I think outside the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation since it was down in the valley (just off El Camino Real in Mountain View). The winery and vineyard area were replaced by a bunch of different buildings, including retail along El Camino and and an apartment complex and houses in the area southwest (but none of them mansions).

-Al

Thanks Dan. The write up was fascinating. I have had a couple of the wines tasted (not Mount Eden but things like 1984 Ridge MB (which I really loved)). I have not had a 1973 from anyone in years, but some of my earlier California Cabs came from that vintage - I used to really like wines from the vintage like Sterling, BV Private Reserve and Inglenook Cask. Don’t know how they have held up over the years, but I had a couple bottles of the 73 Sterling Cabernet about 15-20 years ago or so that were really good.

Great read, thanks for sharing. I need to allocate more funds to hunting down more Mount Eden. I now regret not bidding on the ‘00 Old Vine Cab that was on winebid this past week.

Curious - have you participated in similar tasting for their Pinots? I know those can age a long time as well. Curious of the aging curve relative to their cabs.

There’s a screening coming up of an indie film following Mount Eden over seven years, with Jeffrey and Ellie readying their son and daughter to take over when the time comes.

Mario Gemello’s grandson Kevin Fergusson is working on a book about the family. Mario sourced from Montebello, as well as a couple great Saratoga sites for his best Cabs. He also mentored Dave Bennion, as well as providing a benchmark, for Ridge Monte Bello. Back in the '40s he brokered a sale of La Questa Cab to Martin Ray, which lead to Ray restoring that vineyard, sourcing from it and taking cuttings from it as the source of the original Cab planting at his Mount Eden Vineyard.

Sue Crane, the last of the eight original Ridge founders has a book about the early years available at the Ridge tasting room.

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Our tasting group did a veryical of the early Mount Eden Cabs, with Jeffrey in attendance. For him, those were recent and current releases when he started there, plus a couple where he was assistant winemaker. Quite a while ago i was invited to the second of a series of Mount Eden tastings. The first, happening a few years prior, focused on the '70s. This had most of the '80s Chards and Pinots. About a decade later, we did a '90s version that focused on Cabs. Those were with Jeffrey and an impressive list of guests. The wines hold up.

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