Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard

Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard was founded in 1974 by Ken Burnap. He purchased the century-old Jarvis vineyard from David Bruce; the land had been replanted with Pinot Noir by Bruce 5 years previously. SCMV soon established a reputation for big, tannic Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignons and Durif (Petite Sirah) that would age for decades.

In 1977 a student called Jeff Emery helped out on the bottling line. Jeff continued to work part time and after graduating in 1981 he joined the winery full time. The two continued to work together for the next two decades.

In 2003 Ken decided to retire and sell the winery. Jeff was able to purchase the name, inventory and equipment, however the Jarvis vineyard and the winery were sold separately and are now known as Vine Hill Winery. Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard operated out of Bradley Brown's Big Basin winery for a few years before moving to a permanent location on Ingalls Street in Santa Cruz. Since taking over Jeff has toned down the tannins somewhat, making the wines more appealing in their youth.

In 2009 the winery launched a second label, Quinta Cruz, focusing on Iberian grape varieties.

2006 Branciforte Creek Pinot Noir, Santa Cruz Mountains
Nose shows raspberry syrup and a hint of anise. There's good cherry and raspberry flavours, plenty of acidity and fine tannins. Needs some time. 89+

2007 Quinta Cruz Tempranillo, Pierce Ranch, San Antonio Valley
Light nose of black fruits. Good black berry & plum flavours. Plenty of tannin and acidity. Another one for the cellar. 88+

2006 Grenache, McDowell Valley Vineyard, Mendocino County
Made from 100 year old head trained vines.
Bright, smoky nose of redcurrant and rhubarb. Complex, intense red fruit, good acidity, some oak showing. Herbal, tannic finish. 90

2006 Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands
Smoky and gamey nose with black berry fruit. A meaty, rich Syrah loaded with black fruit and pepper. 90

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Luchessi Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains
The Luchessi Vineyard is on Monte Bello Road, near to Ridge.
A funky, earthy nose showing a bit of Brett. Good blackcurrant fruit and an earthy, tannic finish. Another wine that needs time. 87+

2007 Quinta Cruz Graciano, Bokisch Vineyard, Mokelumne River
Graciano isn't a grape I'd heard of, but it's one of the main components of Rioja.
An initial whiff of sulphur turned out to be hiding some floral notes.
On the palate - Wow - loads of interesting, spicy fruit and a note of bitter chocolate. Good acidity, soft, fine tannins. Something very different. 92

2005 Rabelo dessert wine, Pierce Ranch, San Antonio Valley
Made entirely from traditional port grapes - Tinta Roriz (AKA Tempranillo), Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão, this is a true single vineyard, vintage wine. Some Tempranillo is harvested early, fermented and distilled at Osocalis to provide the "aguardente" spirit that is used to fortify the wine and stop fermentation.
Sooo good. Sweet but not overly so, loads of complexity backed by the tannin and flavours of traditional port grapes. Made in the LBV style, so not oxidised. This is as good a port-style wine as you'll find outside Portugal. 95