Returning customers probably know that we here at Wine Heist get pretty excited about “mountain” cabernet, sourced from high elevation vineyards throughout California. Today’s offering comes from the Santa Cruz Mountains above San Francisco Bay. Home to Ridge’s famed Monte Bello vineyard, and pioneers like Martin Ray and David Bruce, this area has always attracted vintners looking from something a little different, and that is exactly what we are serving up today. How often do you find mountain cab, with a little bit of bottle age, stored perfectly by the winery, for under $30?
The 2002 Cooper-Garrod George’s Vineyard is sourced from a tiny parcel of their estate vineyards planted over 30 year ago, using cuttings from some of the first cabernet grown in California. Purple in color, it is just starting to show a little garnet on the rim, hinting that its youthful stage is ending. The nose is stunningly complex, showing some plum and blackberry, but dominated by secondary aromas of earth, ginger, potpourri, graphite and an unusual but very pleasant gamey note. This is the kind of nose that is only possible once a wine has sat in bottle and had a chance to evolve. The palate echoes the plum and earth, with a touch of blueberry. It is perfectly integrated, with a wonderfully silky texture, nice acidity, good structure, and rounded tannins. The finish is all plum and spice, and goes on and on.
Besides its age, the other key to this wine is its alcohol level. At just 12.6%, there is a soft, supple elegance to this wine, something that seems to get lost as wines creep up over 15% alcohol. Once again, this is possible thanks to the climate in this high-elevation vineyard, where sun is abundant, but cool nights prevent over-ripeness. The result is a wine that is intense without being overpowering, and that is perfect for the dinner table. Filet mignon, Cornish hen, pumpkin soup… the possibilities are endless. Although this will probably hold for several years, it seems to be in its prime drinking window right now, with its secondary aromas still accompanied by a healthy dose of dark fruit. Don’t pass up this chance to pick up some perfectly aged mountain cab at an incredible price!
The sunny days, moderate nights, and long growing season of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are south of San Francisco and overlook the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, have long been recognized as ideal for world class wines.
The Garrod family began involvement with California agriculture and open space in 1893, purchasing lands from the Mount Eden Orchard and Vineyard Company. Our label recalls glorious apricot and prune blossoms which enhanced spring views from our hillside early in the previous century. Since 1972, aging orchards have been replaced with grapes which thrive in this microclimate.
So continues the agricultural tradition begun by winemaker Bill Cooper and vineyard master Jan Garrod's great-grandfather. Winemaker Emeritus George Cooper refined his craft by learning from his fellow vintners in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Napa Valley, Burgundy, and Bordeaux.