TN: A Pair of 1997 Mount Eden Pinots

A PAIR OF 1997 MOUNT EDEN PINOTS - (1/13/2012)

1997 marked Mount Eden’s 25th anniversary although the vineyards date back to 1942. Two Pinots were bottled in this vintage–the regular “Estate” and a “Cuvee des Vieilles Vignes” which was the last wine made from the original 1942 planting made by Martin Ray. I believe these old vines were replaced after this vintage. Despite the historic circumstances, neither wine has performed well over the years IMHO. Having a few bottles left of each, I decided to try both side-by-side and was pleasantly surprised.

  • 1997 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Bottled - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Decanted 2 hours. No sediment. Lighter color than the Cuvee des Vieilles Vignes" with a wide clear rim. High toned aromatics show savory herbs and smoky, briary red fruit that set the stage for decidedly tart red fruit flavors of cranberry and cherry with just enough sweetness to keep the balance. The wine is mouth-wateringly bright but not at all dried out or severe and the finish is long, juicy and pleasurable. Along with its vintage stable mate, this too is showing better now than in the past but should be drunk over the next year or two. (91 pts.)
  • 1997 Mount Eden Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate Bottled Old Vines - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    The last (only?) bottling made entirely from the original 1942 Martin Ray planting. Decanted about an hour. No sediment. The color is light throughout but still bright and fresh looking with a wide clear rim. Herb tea, dried flowers and some sweet spice on the nose lead to light but still lively flavors of dried cherry, rose hips and a touch of iron. There is still a sense of sweetness to the fruit and the wine finishes bright and clean. What I thought was likely its “last gasp” might actually be a second wind as this is showing better now than at any previous time. That being said, it is in need of drinking and is not among the many outstanding Pinots from this historic estate. Note: the bottle is labeled “Cuvee des Vieilles Vignes” not “Old Vines”. (89 pts.)

Posted from CellarTracker

What made you decant for two hours?
Did you try it immediately upon opening to give yourself a baseline?


I had the 72 last week and it was drinking beautifully. I would not discount them yet…they may last a long, long time.

I’m among the folks that had doubts about these going into the 15-20 year range on improvement, but I stopped drinking them for a few years when they seemed to be muted and the past couple of check-ins have seen seemingly miraculous recovery and improvement. I’ve had tired old Mount Eden pinots, but I’ve had many more glorious old bottles, so have put faith in time doing whatever it does with these. Thanks for the status update and happy sipping on what remains of your stash.


Paul & Fred

I did taste the Estate right after decanting and it was tart and hard. Again, I had little expectation that either of these wines would be enjoyable. I’ve moved the remaining bottles to my “Drink Soon” bin and hope they show as well as they did this weekend.

I had the '97 VV PN a month ago and it was spectacular and extremely youthful. For that bottle, which had perfect storage, I rated it 94 and predicted best drinking from '20-'50.

Could be provenance, bottle variation, mood of the wine. Do you know the provenance of those bottles?


I’ve represented MEV here in Vermont for about 30 years. I bought a case of each wine on release and they have been stored in near perfect conditions. My assessment could be “mood of the taster” and you could be right. Perhaps I should “deep six” a bottle or two of each for another 10 years of so.

Btw, what I mean by “mood of the wine” is something other than bottle variation or something to do with the taster. It’s like if you open two bottles of the same wine side-by-side, one shows well and the other seems to be in a dumb phase. I don’t assume that’s bottle variation, per se. That bottle could have shown well if opened at a different time. You can’t really know for sure. We do know wines go through weird phases in bottle. We know there are all sorts of reactions going on. Any winemaker can tell you stories of tasting a barrel sample and thinking they would have to dump that crap only to have it taste just fine a week later. Moody stuff.