Wine Reviews: Eden Rift

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-20-2021

If you like your California Pinot and Chardonnay bright, complex and nuanced, you may want to pay attention to this week’s offerings from Eden Rift.

This estate in the Cienega Valley AVA has been continuously producing grapes since the late 1800s. Under many different owners, the Hollister-area ranch has a storied history, from producing 100,000 gallons of wine a year in 1916 trying to stay afloat during Prohibition by selling grapes to the church for sacramental wine.

In 2016, the estate was purchased by Christian Pillsbury, a wine pro who holds a WSET Diploma and headed up Asia Pacific for Coravin. Hollister local Cory Waller, who has worked at neighboring Calera and others, works as winemaker. In the cellar, these wines undergo native yeast fermentation, nuanced use of new oak, and the alcohol levels are moderate (usually a bit under 14%).

If I had to briefly sum up the aesthetic of these wines up: they’re precise, clear and highly memorable, like a wildlife photograph framed just right and taken in wonderful focus. This is the first time I’ve tasted these wines, but it won’t be the last. In this report, I taste through their 2018 offerings, which include three Chardonnays and Pinots apiece, an Estate, a Reserve, and a Terraces.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. Dig in below.

2018 Eden Rift Chardonnay Estate USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $42
Aromas boast yellow pears, lemon crème pie, orange marmalade, with honey, chalk dust and some gingerbread. Precise acidity frames the wine well, generous, round texture offers depth, with fresh, ripe yellow apples, key lime pie and glazed pear. Mineral, chalk and sea salt tones blend well with nuanced gingerbread and whipped honey. Crisp, balanced finish. Fermented and aged 11 months in 18% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2018 Eden Rift Chardonnay Terraces ­ USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $54
Lovely aromas of yellow apples, orange peel and lemon curd, topped in sea salt, chalk, ginger, honeycomb and peanut shell. Delightfully balanced with creamy texture but bright acidity. Lemon crème, orange peels and kiwi fruit, mixes with hay, chalk, sea salt and crunchy, limestoney, minerals. Notes of shaved ginger, gingerbread and graham cracker add complexity. Generous but lively and focused. From a single 1.6-acre vineyard. (92 points IJB)

2018 Eden Rift Chardonnay Estate Reserve USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $64
Pure, inviting aromas, with deep lemon tones, yellow apples, with honey, almond and chalk dust. Medium-bodied frame, deeply textured with pleasant creaminess but zesty acidity and a salty, precise, mineral-infused feel. Limes, lemons and nectarine mix with honey, peanut shell, and these lovely mountain stream and oyster shell tones. Such focus and vibrancy in this wine. Several barrels from one block of Calera clone, fermented and aged 10 months in 25% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

2018 Eden Rift Pinot Noir Estate USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $64
Inviting aromas of plums and cherries, laced with complex earth, tobacco, clove, rose petals, white pepper, a lot going on here. The acidity here is so fresh and inviting, medium-bodied, with fine tannins. Juicy red cherry and strawberry fruit; this is a precise, zingy and focused wine. Complex harmonies of tilled soil, light roast coffee, tobacco, rose petals, floral perfume. Nuanced, balanced, delicious, this is ready to go but would do well with a few years in the cellar. About a third whole-cluster fermentation. (91 points IJB)

2018 Eden Rift Pinot Noir Terraces USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $64
On the nose, I get bright raspberries and some strawberry, with a bright and airy feel. Medium-bodied, dusty-chalky tannins, the acidity is bright. Tangy cranberry and cherry fruit (ripe but nice and crunchy, too) with attractive mint, rose petal and oregano. Cola, coffee, clay, I could go on, but I am just vibing with this fresh, juicy, balanced, elegant wine. I’d love to age this for four to five and see where it’s headed. 69% whole cluster, aged 17 months in French oak. (94 points IJB)

2018 Eden Rift Pinot Noir Estate Reserve USA, California, Central Coast, Cienega Valley
SRP: $72
Vibrant cherries, red plums and bright raspberries on the nose, along with cola, toffee, some white pepper, sweet pipe tobacco and rose petals. Deep texture, structured tannins offer grip but the round edges make this accessible, and the acidity is lively, offering a fresh, balanced appeal. Cherries and raspberry fruit meld with pepper, tobacco, clay, potting soil, rose petals. Nuanced cola and toffee elements. This could use a good amount of air or a few years, but a lot to unpack in here. 50% whole cluster fermented, aged 10 months in 30% new French oak. (92 points IJB)

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