Editor and Founder of Vinography Alder Yarrow wrote a year review on the “The Wines That Helped Me Survive 2020,” featuring our 1984 Monte Bello. Awarding the wine a score of “a perfect 10 if there ever was one,” Yarrow went on to write that “Monte Bello, though, is truly one-of-a-kind, and it’s not hard to say that this ’84 was easily the best single thing I had in my glass this year.”
The feature on our 1984 Monte Bello vintage included the following:
“There are great wines, and then there are epic wines. Wines that give you whiplash as they grab you by the ears and drag you back to the glass and your existence narrows to a tunnel of flavors and aromas and textures that carry you away someplace sensational.
“I was lucky enough to spend a little bit of time on the hillside that hosts the Ridge winery and the Monte Bello estate during harvest this year. It was something of a surreal experience given that the normally spectacular views were occluded with smoke from the wildfires and the normally busy tasting room was only doing contactless wine pickups for those willing to brave the long, winding road in pursuit of a few bottles.
“COO and Monte Bello winemaker Eric Baugher was generous enough to sit down with me for a few hours to talk about the hazards of the vintage, and to share some bottles from the library, of which this was the shining star.
“I’ve had my share of older vintages of Monte Bello, all of which have been excellent, and many of which have been stellar. The 1995 vintage, also from the library at Ridge a number of years ago, stands out as a particularly memorable bottle.
“But none have been the equal of this particular bottle in its perfect expression of everything Monte Bello has to offer.
“Dark ruby in the glass, this wine smells alluringly of bacon fat and forest floor with intense, deep aromas of garrigue and pencil lead or shaved graphite. In the mouth, beautifully variegated dried herbs, forest floor, dried cherry and cedar flavors swirl across the palate in a savory, ethereal stream. Fantastic acidity, along with a faint saline quality, kicks the saliva glands into overdrive as billowing velvety tannins cushion the whole sumptuous feast of flavor in a warm embrace. Simply stunning. 93% Cabernet, 7% Merlot. 12.9% alcohol.
“Ridge Vineyards, and its flagship wine the Monte Bello Cabernet, need little introduction for most lovers of California wine. The 1971 vintage was the red that bested the Bordeaux First Growths in the Judgment of Paris wine tasting in 1976 (as well as in all subsequent recreations).
“Started at the site of an old winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains by a group of engineers from the Stanford Research Institute in 1962, Ridge Vineyards has been making some of California’s most distinctive wines for decades. Under the winemaking leadership of Paul Draper, the winery practices what Draper likes to call pre-industrial winemaking. Ambient yeasts, low sulfur additions, no filtration, and only occasional fining with egg whites are the primary tools of the trade at Ridge, other than gentle handling of the fruit and careful temperature control at key stages of the winemaking process…
“…The winery keeps producing three of what I consider to be California’s greatest wines every year: the Monte Bello Cabernet, and the two field blends Geyserville and Lytton Springs, which continue to be a living testament to California’s winemaking history.”