In February, the Production Team met for the first Assemblage tasting of the 2020 Monte Bello. In total, twenty-eight lots were considered for inclusion. We began by tasting all 28 lots blind. Ten of these stood out, showing clear Monte Bello potential, including two classic merlot blocks from the Perrone vineyard and one rich and intense lot of petit verdot. Combining these ten lots as our base blend, we then individually considered 12 more in and out with the base wine. After two days of tasting, the group chose eight of these to become part of the 2020 Monte Bello first assemblage. As usual, to see how the new wine compares to the most recent vintages of Monte Bello, we then blind-tasted the first assemblage in a vertical with the 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 vintages. While opaque in color, intense in flavor and full of Monte Bello character, we were surprised how forward the new wine tasted. Fortunately, the six lots yet-to-be-tasted, which were not ready for consideration, included several highly structured wines.
On May 12th, we gathered again for the second assemblage tasting to look at the remaining six lots. The first wine we considered was a cabernet from the Lone Tree parcel at Perrone. This brought darker fruit and greater volume to the mid-palate and was a clear favorite. Next we tasted two cabernets from the Cuadrado and Three Bees blocks at Rousten. Despite coming from young vines, both were concentrated and dense. Together they represented a 12.4% addition and made a real impact on the style and direction of the wine. Two smaller lots, including one cabernet franc parcel from Perrone were also added. The final blend for the 2020 Monte Bello is 83% cabernet sauvignon, 11% merlot, 5% petit verdot, and 1% cabernet franc. To conclude, we repeated the vertical tasting of recent vintages, this time with the completed second assemblage. Though still very young, the new Monte Bello with these additions showed an added layer of depth that completes the wine, promising to evolve and unfold over the next fifteen to twenty years.
-John Olney, Head Winemaker and COO