Futures of our Monte Bello are available to active members of our Monte Bello Collector Membership Program. Click here to learn more about membership.
Join Winemaker Eric Baugher and Sr. VP of Vineyard Operations David Gates on Thursday, April 9th at 4pm PT for a Virtual Tasting, Discussion and Q&A about the 2019 vintage of Monte Bello. Click here to register.
Charge Date: April 14, 2020
Ship Date: March 2022
Following the dry winter of 2018, the heavy rains of 2019 were welcome. A moderately strong El Nino formed in the eastern Pacific, which intensified storms and directed their energy at California. Monte Bello received sixty-five inches of rain for the season, twice our average amount. It rained often, but not torrentially as the weather systems moved through. It allowed for good absorption into the subsoil, avoiding erosion while replenishing underground water reserves. Once spring arrived, there was an explosive growth of grass and cover-crop that helped with drawing excess water out of the ground. This was followed by frequent mowing, which prevented nutrients from being pulled away from the vines. Our Sonoma County vineyards received a larger amount of rain than did Monte Bello. The ground was saturated with water through late spring. Having great drainage in these vineyards was essential for inducing water stress later in the growing season.
Once summer arrived, it brought several lengthy heatwaves between June and July. This accelerated the growing season and energized the vines into extending their shoots and filling out canopies, growing inches by the day. For most vineyards, flowering occurred during calm weather. Clusters were full and abundant. The merlot parcels at Monte Bello were the only ones that got caught by bad weather during bloom. Their clusters had a lot of shatter resulting in great concentration but unusually low yields. Throughout August and September, despite bursts of heat, cold foggy weather slowed ripening. Our first bordeaux parcel was picked on September 27, which were the young vines planted in 2017 at Rousten. On the 28th, we went to the top of Monte Bello to Lone Oak’s young cabernet vines and harvested. Over the next three weeks, and with help from our Sonoma vineyard crew, we brought in the rest of Monte Bello. Fortunately, the weather held; neither rain or heat waves affected the vintage.
For the second year in a row, fermentations were slow and brought worry, but in the end, all the tanks went dry and produced outstanding wine quality. Our only wish would have been for more merlot, which stood out as the shining star of the vintage. There were so many excellent lots to choose from to make 2019 Monte Bello. We conducted the two-day tasting for assemblage on February 5-6. We started with blind-tasting twenty-eight lots and scored. The clear winners of the component tasting were assembled to make the core blend. The next day, a series of two glass tastings reviewed further additions to the core blend. With nine tasters from the vineyard and production teams, we each had our own unique take on the character and taste of Monte Bello as we judged and scored. Surprisingly, given diversity of tasters, a consensus was reached on each flight. We proceeded tasting seven flights this way, though, at the time, we did not reveal what glass had the addition from the previous flights. This information was guarded until the last glass was tasted and confirmed with the recent vintages of Monte Bello. Once that was done, the information about the seven in-and-out flights was revealed. It was magnificent results, additions in all seven flights had made it into the blend. We have never had an assemblage go this smooth, especially without bringing any influence to what we were tasting as we proceeded in each flight. Our focus was on promoting Monte Bello quality over quantity.
Our first assemblage is a wine with tremendous depth and complexity, showing great balance, with rich tannins that are coated in dark mountain fruit. The cold nights during this growing season helped maintain firm acid. Natural malolactic fermentation has helped bring acidity into balance, yet it remains lively and fresh. This vintage has great potential for aging, but it is also sensuous and delicious right now. A second assemblage will be done in May, to consider an additional eight lots of cabernet and whether they will further elevate quality and complexity. —Eric Baugher, February 11, 2020
375ml – $73
750ml – $141
1.5L – $285
3.0L – $634
6.0L – $1,268
Exclusive member pricing on Monte Bello futures is approximately 40% off the current vintage price. Each year we will remind you of your standing reservation; you may change, confirm, or cancel. Please be aware that if you choose to reduce your 2019 order, that quantity becomes your new standing allocation with no guarantee that you will be able to increase it with future vintages.
As a Monte Bello Collector member, you are invited to our series of Monte Bello Assemblage events occuring in March, April, and May each year. Visit our events page for more information.