Santa Cruz Cabernet: Wines You Never Knew

New York Times

New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov profiles the Santa Cruz Mountains wine growing region and singles out Ridge Vineyards as “perhaps the greatest of American cabernets.”

Here’s an excerpt from Asimov’s post dated 14 January 2016:

“’We hear from people all the time who are surprised to learn that Monte Bello is not from Napa Valley,’ Mr. Draper said during a recent visit to Ridge’s hilltop winery near Cupertino.

Today, the cabernet sauvignon produced in the region is among America’s best, particularly for fans of classically structured, savory wines, and is certainly among the best cabernet values. Yet only small amounts are produced, and that amount is unlikely to grow anytime soon.

Ridge Monte Bello, of course, has set a standard for California cabernet sauvignon. The wines are complex, energetic and graceful. The current 2012 release was elegant with lovely red briary fruit and flavors of minerals and violets. The wines also age beautifully. A 1992 was full of spicy fruit with complex floral and mineral flavors. Monte Bello is not labeled a cabernet. But Ridge does make a wine from the Monte Bello vineyard labeled Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s a pretty fair approximation of Monte Bello, though generally less concentrated, with less pronounced minerality, and far less expensive, around $50 to Monte Bello’s $175.

Even at $175, Monte Bello is a great value as one of America’s great wines. Consider the Napa cabernets, with far less illustrious track records, which routinely sell for more than $200, to say nothing of the cult cabernets, which can go into four figures.”

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