x
  • Country ranking ?

    292
  • Producer ranking ?

    12
  • Decanting time

    1.5h
  • When to drink

    Now-2030
  • Food Pairing

    Pan Seared Filet Mignon & Foraged Mushroom Gratin & Marchand du Vin

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The Story

In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the first Monte Bello vineyards were planted, and winery construction begun. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; some vines survived into the late 30s, but by the 1940s they were effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until 1974 when younger blocks replanted in the 1960s were considered for inclusion. Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.

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. 

The vineyards are grown organically.
 

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Wine Information

A cool spring and welcome rains delayed fruit formation even beyond 1993’s late set. We thinned moderately just after set and again—rigorously—when the grapes turned color in late August. For the second consecutive year, warm days and cool nights contributed to very firm acidity. The merlot was harvested on October 1, but cool weather slowed ripening in the cabernet and petit verdot. On October 18, temperatures rose into the eighties and remained high. The twenty separate, small blocks were harvested as they ripened over the next ten days. Within twelve hours of crush the color in the juice was the darkest we had seen in any Monte Bello to date.BLEND: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon,15% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 9% Petit Verdot

ALC: 12.7%

VINTAGE 1994 REPORT:

 

95 tons from 54 acres. The ’94 vintage followed the pattern of the last three years: spring rains and a late start to the growing season. Though the set was not heavy, we thinned rigorously to help ensure full maturity by harvest. Again, cool nights held acids high as the grapes ripened. We harvested from October 18 to 28—late, but fairly typical of our cool region. A light egg white fining and seventeen months in new, air-dried oak have softened the tannins beautifully. The merlot has enhanced fullness, the petit verdot, structure and spice. Both together, with the franc, add complexity. Though approachable as a young wine, this lovely vintage will be at its best with five to fifteen years of bottle age.

A cool spring and welcome rains delayed fruit formation even beyond 1993’s late set. We thinned moderately just after set and again—rigorously—when the grapes turned color in late August. For the second consecutive year, warm days and cool nights contributed to very firm acidity. The merlot was harvested on October 1, but cool weather slowed ripening in the cabernet and petit verdot. On October 18, temperatures rose into the eighties and remained high. The twenty separate, small blocks were harvested as they ripened over the next ten days. Within twelve hours of crush the color in the juice was the darkest we had seen in any Monte Bello to date.

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Latest Pro-tasting notes

<10 tasting notes

Tasting note

color

Deep, Brick red and Bright

ending

Long, Extensive and Lingering

flavors

Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Voluptuous, Toasty and Mineral

nose

Intense, Complex, Refined and Tempting

taste

High in Acidity, Perfectly balanced, Concentrated, Well-structured, Developing, Medium-bodied, Firm, Elegant, Fragrant and Silky tannins

Verdict

Sophisticated and Impressive

Written Notes

73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc. The 20 separate, small blocks were harvested as they ripened over 10 days. Within 12 hours of crush the color in the juice was the darkest we had seen in any Monte Bello to date. 12-36 hours later natural yeasts started the fermentations. We pumped over twice daily – aerating the juice slightly as we drew it off into a tub and circulated it gently over the skins. At about 16 days, our tastings showed tough tannins in half the fermentors. To avoid over-extraction, we called the full crew in on a Sunday, pressing four tanks that day and another four on Monday. Virtually all were pressed by the time the wines had spent 18 days on the skins. Natural malolactics finished by mid-November; in early December we began assembling the finest of the 20 wines as the Monte Bello. This early assemblage, right after malolactic, gave us a very firm, tannic wine. We racked to barrel on January 12, 1995, using one hundred percent new, air-dried oak, all but a small portion of which was American. The remainder went to French oak, continuing our annual comparison of the two. 
Seems quite closed at first. Not much on the nose but it is emerging gradually and becomes more and more fragrant. A little leathery, herbal but sweet. Then on the palate it explodes with freshness and fruit and such smooth tannins. They are very smooth but they are still very present. Unusual depth of tannin at this age. Mouthwatering length and still depth of fruit. There's a richness with that freshness that seems so typical of this wine.  (JH) 

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Information

Origin

Cupertino, Santa Cruz

Grapes

15% Merlot
73% Cabernet Sauvignon
9% Petit Verdot
3% Cabernet Franc

Drinking temperature

17-18C

Other wines from this producer

Buchignani Ranch Zinfandel

Estate Chardonnay

Estate Merlot

Fiddletown Zinfandel

Hearts Desire Selection Zinfandel

Lytton Springs Zinfandel

Monte Bello Merlot

Pagani Ranch Zinfandel

Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Ridge Geyserville

Ridge Mataro Bridgehead

Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon

Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay

Ridge York Creek Zinfandel

Syrah Lytton Estate

Zinfandel Ponzo Vineyard

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