News From Ridge Vineyards

Celebrate Cabernet Day with Three Decades of Monte Bello

August 14, 2012 12:44 PM


As part of our Cabernet Day celebration, we will be featuring a very special library tasting at both our Monte Bello & Lytton Springs wineries, on Thursday August 30th. 

The tasting is billed as "Three Decades of Monte Bello" and will feature the 1985, 1995 & 2005 Monte Bello vintages in a side-by-side comparison.  This is a fantastic opportunity to experience first-hand how Monte Bello evolves over the course of multiple decades.  These rare wines will also be available for purchase on-site at this event only.


If you will be in or around Northern California on August 30th, we hope you come visit our wineries and join us in celebration.  Tastings are conducted seated, in a private tasting room, at 11am & 2pm.  Space is limited, so reserve your spot now:

- Monte Bello (Cupertino, CA – Santa Cruz Mountains)

- Lytton Springs (Healdsburg, CA – Dry Creek Valley)



About the 1985 Monte Bello:

93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot

The ten distinct blocks of the Monte Bello vineyard are made separately.  After secondary fermentation, we begin a series of blind tastings to determine which are of the quality and character we require for our estate wine.  In 1985, 45% of the production was not included in the Monte Bello (these softer wines will be released as Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet).  In this rich, complex Monte Bello the tannins are firm but round.  By achieving balance without affecting the underlying structure, we have made a twenty-five-year wine of superb quality.  ~ Paul Draper (April, 1987)


About the 1995 Monte Bello:

69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, welcome spring rains delayed the start of our growing season.  We thinned the already moderate crop, and warm October weather brought the fruit to ideal ripeness.  Fifteen of the twenty-five parcels were chosen in February as most intense and most typical of the vineyard's character.  They were assembled in three stages over the following months.  Tannins are the biggest to date in the nineties, yet the fullness and complexity of the wine render them supple.  Aged almost entirely in new, air-dried american oak, this is classic Monte Bello.  Though approachable now, the great '95 vintage will develop fully over the next fifteen to twenty years.  ~ Paul Draper (March, 1997)

About the 2005 Monte Bello:

70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc

Our estate vineyards high on Monte Bello Ridge are exposed to the Pacific Ocean, fifteen miles to the west.  This gives us a climate as cool as Bordeaux, but also subjects us to the ocean's vicissitudes.  In 2005, late rains and cold winds cut yields to a ton an acre, the lowest in ten years.  Warm summer days and atypically warm nights brought ripening back on schedule, and a warm October fully ripened each of the thirty-six parcels between October 4 and November 1.  Clusters and berries were small, color and tannin abundant.  Pressed at eight days on average, forty percent of the wine went through natural malolactic in barrel, the rest in small fermentors.  Assemblage began in February.  After several weeks of blind tasting, we made a barrel each of three different blends.  By March, it was easier to determine the finest.  Petit verdot and cabernet franc were added immediately, another merlot and three cabernets in May, some rich first-press wine in December.  Seventeen months in new air-dried american oak-from both french and american coopers-has contributed spice and texture.  This is a superb vintage.  Beautifully balanced, it will continue to develop over the next several decades.  ~ Eric Baugher / Paul Draper (March 2007)