2004 Monte Bello

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New World Greats to Lay Down
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  July 2008 - 2004 Monte Bello - "Most know Ridge for its Zinfandels, but this Cab-dominated blend has been a California classic for decades. The word I always associate with Monte Bello is long. It takes a long time to come around and has a long finish. Muscular and intense.&quot -Frank Prial

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Ridge 2004 California Monte Bello®

2004 Monte Bello, bottled April 2006
76% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 8% petit verdot, 3% cabernet franc
Vineyard Production: 138 tons from 108 acres
38% selected for this wine
13.2% alcohol by volume

2004 Monte Bello

Winter rains were scarce this year, and total rainfall down twenty-five percent. Budbreak came early, but bloom was late, delayed by cold April weather. Having set a small crop for the third consecutive year, the vines required little thinning. Harvest began on schedule; most parcels were picked in the first two weeks of October. Four days later, heavy rains drenched the remaining grapes � a quarter of the crop. Fortunately, sun and wind dried the clusters fully before the next storm, and we finished harvest with no damage to the fruit. The forty small lots fermented to dryness on their natural yeasts in nine days on average. Two-thirds of them completed natural malolactic in barrel, and remained on the lees for five months. The rest finished in tank, and were racked off their lees to barrel within one month. In a series of tastings conducted from late January through March, we selected seventeen lots for the first Monte Bello assemblage. Another was included in May, one more in December. Eighteen months in barrel has begun to integrate the firm tannins and rich texture of this fine vintage. Unusually appealing as a young wine, it will gain further depth and complexity over the next fifteen to twenty years. EB/PD (3/06)

Tasting Notes - July 2007

Color: Saturated deep purple
Nose: Perfumed blackberry and currant fruit, sweet cassis, black licorice, vanilla bean, scented sandalwood spice, toasty oak, cola, clove, crushed limestone rock, dark chocolate-cocoa powder.
Palate: Savory mix of black and red mountain fruits, pungent barrel spices, firm acid, expansive mid-palate, elegant chalky tannins, wet stones, black olive, juniper berry, cedar, and sweet toasted oak finish.

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Information on other vintages: 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999



History

In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Monte Bello estate vineyard was planted, and the winery constructed. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; by the 1940s it was effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962). Since then, the original vineyards have gradually been replanted.

Vintage

Harvest Dates: 14 September - 23 October
Grapes: Average brix 24.2�
Fermentation: Gentle destemming, no crushing. (I thirty-six separately-fermented lots, roughly half the berries remained unbroken.) Natural-yeast primary and secondary fermentations. Pressed at eleven days on average.
Aging: 92% new, air-dried american oak, 8% new french oak (for comparison.)
Time in Barrel: Eighteen months

Vineyard

Monte Bello map

First RIDGE Monte Bello: 1962
Location: Monte Bello Ridge, in northern California's Santa Cruz Mountains, overlooking the San Francisco peninsula.
Elevation: 1300 - 2660'
Soils: Decomposing Franciscan rock mixed with clay, laid over fractured limestone.
Vines: Cabernet sauvignon planted 1949-1993, 66.4 acres.
merlot planted 1970-1997, 12.8 acres.
petit verdot planted 1970-1993, 2.2 acres.
cabernet franc planted 1972, 1.3 acres
Training: Head-trained. Cane pruned (on vertical trellis).
Irrigation: Non-irrigated. (Exception: new vines receive drip irrigation until established.)
Climate: Cool, mountainous — between the Mediterranean and Maritime Zones.
Exposure: Principally south/southeast
Yield: 1.19 tons per acre

Growing Season

Rainfall: 26 inches (below normal)
Bloom: April
Weather: Warm March, cool April, moderate summer.



Miscellaneous

Bottle   UPC*   Packaged   SRP   Notes
750mL   744442101009   6x750mL/woodbox   $135   60 six-packs/pallet (6 per layer)
375mL half   744442100002   12x375mL   $69    
1.5L magnum   744442102006   3x1.5L/woodbox   $272    
3L double magnum   744442106004   1x3L   $615   individually boxed

SRP: suggested retail price per bottle (U.S. dollars)
*UPC number/barcode does not appear on Monte Bello label.
Monte Bello® is a registered trademark of Ridge Vineyards, Inc. in the US and other countries.



Press

  • Vinous Media logo Vinous Media (July 2014): "Readers looking for a Monte Bello that is ready to drink should consider the 2004. Just beginning to enter its early plateau of maturity, the 2004 is in a beautiful spot right now. Sweet tobacco, smoke, cedar, licorice and leather meld into a core of dark fruit. The 2004 won't last forever, but it does have enough depth to age beautifully for the another decade, perhaps more. A distinctly floral/savory finish rounds things out nicely." -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 93)
    Read review online at VinousMedia.com (subscription required)
     
  • Wine Advocate Wine Advocate (Issue 187, 27 Feb 2010): "The 2004 Monte Bello (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) reveals a similar dark ruby/purple color, but it is not as thick looking as the 2003 or 2005. A lighter, more elegant example of Monte Bello, the finesse-styled 2004 does not possess the power one normally sees in this wine. It offers pure fruit, a pretty, St.-Julien-like style, notes of cedar, spice box, herbs, background oak, and red as well as black currants, and silky tannin. It is capable of lasting 15-20 years.
     
      Ridge's iconic Monte Bello Proprietary Red (no longer called Cabernet Sauvignon) is one of the candidates for the longest-lived Bordeaux blend made in California. Even vintages from the late sixties and early seventies are still vibrant wines. The winery owns just over 100 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon vines, and production varies enormously based on the mountain climate. With respect to this group of wines, the smallest yields were achieved in 2005, and the highest in 2007. The selection process here is relatively severe. For their Monte Bello, the flagship wine, 32% of the production was used in 2003, 38% in 2004, 49% in 2005, 39% in 2006, and 41% in 2007. These wines continue to be anomalies in the sense that the Cabernet Sauvignon component is aged in American oak, a somewhat contrarian procedure since most top producers long ago moved to French oak. The Santa Cruz Mountains cuvees, essentially a second wine culled out from Monte Bello, are also high quality efforts from Ridge. Each of the vintages I tasted reflects the vintage conditions in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Three 2008 barrel samples reveal a consistent, high quality style with slightly more elevated alcohol contents." -Robert Parker
    (Rated: 91)
     
  • Decanter Decanter (July 2008): New World Greats To Lay Down - "Most know Ridge for its Zinfandels, but this Cab-dominant blend has been a California classic for decades. The word I always associate with Monte Bello is long. It takes a long time to come around and has a long finish. Muscular and intense." -Frank Prial
    Download tearsheet PDF (4.1MB PDF)
     
  • Vinography (27 March 2008): "Medium ruby in the glass, this wine has an elegant, poised nose of cedar, cherry, and earth aromas. In the mouth it is bright and juicy with excellent acidity and a clean, claret style that lets flavors of cherry, cedar, and wet stones resonate like a plucked guitar string. Beautifully, even musically balanced, this wine resonates beautifully into a long, satisfying finish." (Rated: 9/9.5) -Alder Yarrow Read complete blog entry at Vinography.comArticle
     
  • Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times (27 June 2007): "This year's estate red blend is three-quarters Cabernet, with the balance Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is a seamless, beautifully structured red that leads with aromas of cassis, plum, and is grounded by a finely grained minerality and a dark complement of oak. Its youthful flavors fall into deep blue cassis fruit, but the wine's texture is masterful, full and powerful. Don't touch for five years, at least."
     
  • International Wine Cellar International Wine Cellar (Sep/Oct 2006, Issue 128): "Ruby-red. Brooding aromas of cassis, blackberry, minerals, bitter chocolate, tobacco and fresh herbs. Fat, broad and sweet, with nicely integrated acidity and complex hints of leather, herbs, licorice, chocolate and minerals. This cheek-coating wine is a bit more filled in than the 2003 release. Finishes with superfine tannins and lovely subtle persistence." (Rated: 91-94) -Stephen Tanzer
     
  • Wine Spectator Wine Spectator (31 July 2005): "A mix of elegance and power, with deep, dark, concentrated cherry cassis, spicebox and cedar notes. Chewy, rustic nuances of herb, eucalyptus, leather and sage flavors fill out on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Score (predicted of finished product): 92-94" -James Laube