x
  • Country ranking ?

    611
  • Producer ranking ?

    15
  • Decanting time

    1h
  • When to drink

    Now

The Story

The Monte Bello (originally Monte Bello Cabernet; until 1975, 100% cabernet) is the wine that introduced Ridge to the world, and the world to Ridge. Today it is a blend of bordeaux varietals in which cabernet sauvignon still predominates. Exhaustive tasting of test blends during assemblage determines how much — if any — merlot, petit verdot, or cabernet franc will be included in the finished wine. Almost every vintage (an unbroken chain from '62 on) has something substantive to recommend it. Each decade has its high points, but year after year Monte Bello proves to be a consistently outstanding wine. There's structure, there's complexity, there's balance. And it develops for a long, long time.
 

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Vintage 1970

Monte Bello - Ridge

Monte Bello is a wine to fall in love with.
The Monte Bello (originally Monte Bello Cabernet; until 1975, 100% cabernet) is the wine that introduced Ridge to the world, and the world to Ridge. Today it is a blend of bordeaux varietals in which cabernet sauvignon still predominates. Exhaustive tasting of test blends during assemblage determines how much — if any — merlot, petit verdot, or cabernet franc will be included in the finished wine. Almost every vintage (an unbroken chain from '62 on) has something substantive to recommend it. Each decade has its high points, but year after year Monte Bello proves to be a consistently outstanding wine. There's structure, there's complexity, there's balance. And it develops for a long, long time.

Ridge was founded in 1959 by three electrical engineers from Stanford Research Institute, and their wives: Dave and Fran Bennion, Hew and Sue Crane, and Charlie and Blanche Rosen. Most of the '59 crop, about six tons, went to Mario Gemello's winery. Dave Benion made one barrel of the first Ridge Monte Bello that year. The quality of that 1959 Cabernet Sauvignon from the vines re-planted in the 1940’s was superior to anything being made in California in that era. Wine knowledgeable friends convinced the partners to take the idea of an actual, functioning, possibly profitable winery seriously.

The name "Ridge" was chosen, despite qualms about starkness and the lack of a modifier. Paul Draper joined Ridge as winemaker in 1969. And in Paris, the 1971 Monte Bello Cabernet placed fifth in a field of ten–including first-growth Bordeaux–at the now-famous Académie du Vin Paris Tasting.
In the '70s, production and distribution were increasing with each vintage. A clear priority was restoration of the winery, and improvements to the winery–and to winemaking techniques–were the major focus. With the advent of the '80s, vineyard practice and technique began to assume greater importance. More attention was paid to the individual blocks and their distinct personalities.
At Steven Spurrier's ten-years-later re-creation of the '76 Paris Tasting, the '71 Monte Bello came in a close second to Clos du Val and outshone all the Bordeaux’s including the '70 Ch. Montrose, '71 Leoville, and '70 Mouton. In 1988 Paul Draper took on the job of C.E.O. while continuing as Winemaker. In 1989 David Gates joined as Vineyard Manager.
In the 1990’s, thirty years of experience, research and experimentation came together to produce the most consistently great decade of Monte Bello vintages: 1991, ’92, ’94, ’96, ’97, ’99 and with ten more years of bottle age 1995.

Though the first decade of the new century is a bit recent to classify as "history," they were important years. Paul Draper appointed Eric Baugher and John Olney as winemakers, each with more than ten years experience at Ridge. Paul remains as C.E.O. and overall head of winemaking, involved in all major tastings and decisions while Eric and John make the day to day decisions and with David Gates and their crews, do the hard work.
As ever, Ridge is a work in progress, constantly building on what is learned with each vintage, striving for wines of the highest quality that truly reflect the terroir in which they are grown.

In Bordeaux, in Burgundy, or in California, most fine producers use the same techniques as others in their region. Ridge is an exception, differing fundamentally from most California makers. These differences go back to Prohibition, which severed California's connection with its winemaking past. The post- Prohibition generation turned to the agricultural universities to learn how to make wine. Chemists reinvented winemaking technologically, independent of traditional techniques developed over centuries in Europe—and later in pre-Prohibition California—which were based on empirically acquired knowledge. Though born in the sixties to this new world of California winemaking, Ridge turned to the natural rather than the technological. The approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine.
Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to
include and—finally—when to bottle, are based on blind tasting. As with raising a child, there
are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity.


Soil: decomposing Franciscan rock mixed with clay, laid over fractured limestone

Production area: 23 ha

Grape varieties: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot


Ridge Vineyards
17100 Monte Bello Road
Cupertino
CA 95014
USA

Tel. + 1 408 867 3233
Fax + 1 408 868 1350

wine@ridgewine.com
www.ridgewine.com

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

ending

Medium, Round and Pure

taste

Average in Acidity, Balanced, Complex, Developing, Medium-bodied, Round, Perfumed and Refined

Verdict

Transparent and Sexy

Written Notes

Perhaps a bit of palate fatigue was setting in, as I have great memories of 1970 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, but this bottle wasn’t one of them. Pekka found it ‘a bit peculiar, but I like it.’ There was glue and paint on top of cedar and anise aromas, with flavors of hot earth and minerals (92).
  • 92p

Information

Origin

Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz

Highlights

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92p
 John Kapon / CEO / Ackerr Merrall & Condit, Pro (United States)  tasted  Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon 1970  ( Ridge Vineyards )

"Perhaps a bit of palate fatigue was setting in, as I have great memories of 1970 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, but this bottle wasn’t one of them. Pekka found it ‘a bit peculiar, but I like it.’ There was glue and paint on top of cedar and anise aromas, with flavors of hot earth and minerals (92)."

4y 10m ago

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