Assemblage is always fascinating. Synergies can form between components that dramatically elevate the complexity of a blend. This was certainly true of the 2015 Monte Bello. Assemblage ended on January 13th, after two days of rigorous blind tasting by the production and vineyard teams. We first considered twenty-four classic Monte Bello parcels, identifying fifteen as having particularly fine Monte Bello character; they were combined to form the core blend. On the second day, eight lots were tasted, and added one at a time in two-glass flights—one glass with the addition, the other without, as a control. The topscoring glass then became the control for the next addition; five were selected to join the assemblage. Blind tasting against the 2010 through 2014 vintages served to confirm the final glass. Though youthful, the 2015 stood strong, showing dark fruit, espresso notes, subtle oak and excellent weight on the palate. Varietal percentages were calculated based on how many barrels of the twenty chosen lots contributed to the blend. It worked out to 70% cabernet sauvignon, 14% merlot, 9% petit verdot and 7% cabernet franc. Fermented completely dry, the alcohol content is 13.3%. Growing conditions in the ‘75, ‘85, ‘95, ‘05 and ‘15 vintages were surprisingly similar. Most comparable to the 2015 in overall vintage character is the 2005.
— Eric Baugher, February 2016
The 2015 Monte Bello is scheduled for release in the fall of 2018.