Assemblage Update on the 2023 Monte Bello

Blog Post

Updated May 2024

If you’re not familiar with the assemblage process here at Ridge, you can learn more about how we harvest, ferment, and taste lots separately to create two “First” wines from the Monte Bello mountain in our blog post: An Elegant Version of Monte Bello from Select Parcels.

First Assemblage

On Valentine’s Day, the RIDGE Monte Bello and Lytton Springs production teams and the Monte Bello vineyard team held the first of two assemblage tastings to assess the individual 2023 Monte Bello Vineyard lots. The goal was to decide which of these will make it into the final Monte Bello blend.

This first tasting consisted of thirty lots, which were tasted blind and rated to decide which wines will make up the “core” or base of the blend. There were five flights of six wines. Each flight was rated with three plus scores and three minus scores. The highest scoring wines were then combined to create the base blend. Next, the team did six “In or Out” tastings comprised of two glasses each – one glass with the base or “control” blend and one glass with the wine being considered as an addition to the control. Five of the wines being considered stood out after being added to the control, showing clear Monte Bello potential, including a merlot lot from our Jimsomare Vineyard (also known as Klein Ranch) which helped to give body, richness, and balance to the tannin profile.

After two days of tasting, the panel had reached agreement on the first assemblage. Once the blend was assembled at a bench trial level, we then blind tasted it against a vertical of the 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 Monte Bello to see how the new wine compares to the most recent vintages. Fortunately, we all agreed that the 2023 Monte Bello assemblage blend is in line with our high standards and is consistent with the quality we have come to expect from this amazing vineyard.

I am excited for the second assemblage tasting which will be held in early May of 2024. We noted eight additional lots as potential additions that we will examine at that time. These remaining lots show potential for filling out the mid-palate with both structure and density.

Trester Goetting, Monte Bello Winemaker (February 16, 2024)

Second Assemblage

On May 9th, our production and vineyard teams gathered to assess the individual wine lots that were not included in our first assemblage. The goal of this tasting was to identify any lots that may have evolved and become worthy of making it into the final blend of the 2023 Monte Bello.

The first assemblage tasting took place on February 14th and resulted in a blend of nine lots. This “core” or base blend was used as our control for the second assemblage tasting. We looked at eight lots using our “in & out” method of tasting. We tasted each of the eight lots against the control, with one glass having the potential lot in the blend and one glass having the potential lot out of the blend (control wine only). These wines were tasted blind and rated by each of the ten tasters on the panel. Three of the wines stood out, showing clear Monte Bello potential, including a press fraction lot of cabernet sauvignon. At the end of the day, we had decided on our final blend which consists of 96% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, and 1% Petite Verdot.

In keeping with tradition, we end our second assemblage tasting with a blind comparison to older Monte Bello wines. We do this to confirm that our newly created blend is consistent in style and quality with past vintages of Monte Bello. The vintages tasted were a vertical of the 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 Monte Bello. The consensus was that the final 2023 Monte Bello assemblage blend is in line with the traditional style and high quality that Monte Bello is known for.

Trester Goetting, Monte Bello Winemaker (May 15, 2024)


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