Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak

Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak

Winery: Mount Palomar Winery
Product/Varietal: Proprietary blend with Petit Verdot base
Vintage: 2013
AVA on Bottle: Temecula Valley
Winemaker: James Rutherford

Rating: 94

3.9 out of 5 stars on Vivino (all vintages).

How They Describe It

Cloudbreak is a premium blend of French Varietals combining the fruit forward California style with the complex earthy French tradition.  The wine has heavy floral scents of carnations, chrysanthemums, and lavender with bright scents of cranberry, orange marmalade spiced with white pepper and vanilla.  The tastes are full of tangy orange, cranberry, currants, black cherry vanilla, and black pepper.  Cloudbreak is big and bold but has been mellowed with extended aging to develop a smooth easy to drink wine. This wine pairs well with rich dishes of red meat or wild game.

Aged 38 months in American and French oak barrels.

How I Describe It

The Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak is deeply concentrated and dark. Significant garneting, bottle sedimentation, and tartrate crystallization along the cork are displays of bottle maturation. Its intensity is accentuated by the cloudiness which comes from a wine left unfiltered. This is a wine in which the winemaker intended to showcase its raw quality, absconding from aesthetic gestures to focus solely on a premium drinking experience.

Aromas from the Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak are surprisingly fresh for a seven year old wine. Blackberry, black currant, blueberry, and cherry lead the way. Dust from a first rain combines with black pepper, eucalyptus, and green bell pepper follow — the latter an indicator of the Bordeaux varietals which likely play a big part of the proprietary blend. Maturity manifests with dried cranberry and leather, and a touch of vanilla and nutmeg signal the influence of over three years of neutral oak barrel exposure.

While fresh fruit leads the Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak’s aromas, it’s mature, developed fruit which comes across strongest on the palate. Dried cranberries and blackberries are a sign of fruit development. These flavors are joined by black currant and lightly stewed cherries. Spicy and herbaceous notes emerge as black pepper, eucalyptus, tobacco, coffee, and green bell pepper. Granite, leather, cloves, nutmeg, and cedar carry through for a sophisticated, oaky finish.

The 2013 Cloudbreak is dry with medium alcohol (13.8% ABV). High tannins balance medium-plus acid, forming a medium-plus body. Flavor intensity is medium-plus, but the finish is long.

Why is This Wine Special?

There are wines which satisfy consumer demand, and there are wines which satisfy the winemaker’s vision. The Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak is the latter.

The varietal blend is Mount Palomar winemaker James Rutherford’s personal recipe, which he’s keeping close to the vest. Frankly, I don’t blame him. The practice calls back to Old World regional blends from Bordeaux, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rioja, and a variety of other appellations where wines are valued for the uniqueness of their blends in addition to fruit and production quality. And while Mount Palomar is no stranger to high fruit and production quality, in the 2013 Cloudbreak’s case, Rutherford displays a deep understanding for both how varietals play together as well as how each grape type develops in the Temecula Valley AVA terroir.

In addition, it’s worth noting the 2013 Cloubreak has undergone a fair amount of maturation at this point. It spent over three years aging in neutral oak barrels, as well as an additional two years bottle aging before its 2018 release. Add two more years, as of publishing, so we’re talking about a seven year old wine now. Undoubtedly, it could absolutely continue aging gracefully for quite a few more years. However, I would only continue aging if you have the proper equipment (e.g., a wine fridge/cooler, a temperature controlled cellar, etc.). Otherwise, the 2013 Cloubreak is 100% ready to be enjoyed now.

When & How I Would Drink It

Wine maturity has an impact on how long to let it breath once opened. Younger wines need upwards of one to two hours. Wines like the 2013 Cloudbreak, though, need little more than 30-45 minutes. To clarify, microoxygenation over the years has already built up and opened a variety of new flavors. And many of the molecules have settled into more stable clusters. Thus, older vintages are prone to spoilage faster than their younger siblings.

The only varietal we know for sure in the 2013 Cloudbreak is Petit Verdot. However, the fruit concentration indicates the grapes Rutherford selected are all big, bold, and tannic.

Certainly, this wine is an adventure all on its own, and I wouldn’t want to lose any bit of its depth pairing with food. That said, if you want to pop the bottle open with an entrée, I suggest sticking to lighter proteins like pork chops and lamb — not because the wine lacks body, but because it’s developed enough to stand on its own.

How to Get It


Bottle Price: $65.00

Cases Produced: 238 cases


Have you tried the Mount Palomar 2013 Cloudbreak? How did the tasting notes compare with your experience? Leave a comment below.

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