80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot
100 Points – William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
Santa Cruz Mountains
After late spring rains, mild weather allowed the vines to set a full crop. For concentration, we dropped a third of the clusters. A perfect summer and warm October gave us mature fruit and firm acidity. At assemblage, forty per-cent of the wine made from the twenty distinct vineyard blocks was held out as less intense. In a decade of exceptional vintages, this may be one of the very finest. Despite substantial tannin, the wine is supple, balanced, and accessible. It will continue to evolve in depth and complexity over the next twenty years.
The 1992 growing season at Monte Bello began with late rains, which were followed by ideal spring weather. Often, during this crucial period, cold winds and fog interfere with the formation of fruit, called “set”, reducing the crop. This natural thinning gives intensity to the Monte Bello, but is indiscriminate. In ’92, with a very full crop, thinning was up to us. On the smaller vines, we dropped half the clusters— on the more vigorous, a third. Harvest began October 1. We picked all the cabernet on the lower (2300′) vineyard over the next ten days. Between the 14th and 18th, we picked the merlot, franc, and petit verdot, as well as all the cabernet on the upper vineyard (2600′). With no delay at set, and summery days throughout much of October, sugars were high.
100 tons from 50 acres. Warm temperatures promoted the natural yeast fermentations, which started within forty-eight hours of each crush. In most tanks, the small, intense berries deeply colored the juice even before fermentation began. We fermented twenty-two separate, small tanks of Monte Bello, representing twenty distinct sections of the vineyard. Two of these are large enough to divide into individual tanks, so we can run controlled experiments. (One experiment which we do each year compares a tank fermented only on yeasts present on the grapes with one to which a selected commercial yeast is added. This is a “reality check” of sorts, as Ridge is the only California fine wine producer to have used naturally-occurring yeasts in virtually all its red wines over the last twenty-five years.) Based on blind tastings, we held forty percent of the vineyard’s less intense wines out of the Monte Bello. The rich, complex ’92 has substantial tannin, yet— despite its size—is supple and beautifully balanced. It ranks with the ’90, ’91, and ’93 as one of the finest wines in our thirty-one years of making Monte Bello.
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 100 Points. “This was a magical showing for the 1992 Monte Bello—and the best bottle I’ve ever encountered. At age 26, the wine is still stunningly vibrant and youthful, bursting from the glass with a classic bouquet of cassis, blackberries, black truffles, gravelly soil and pencil shavings. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, multidimensional and utterly complete, with superb concentration and energy, its richly layered mid-palate framed by fine-grained, satiny tannins, concluding with a long, sapid finish. Above all, it stands out for its seamless balance and delineation. While for many years the more flashy and dramatic 1991 stole the limelight, as the dust settles, the deeper, more complex 1992 has emerged as the greater wine and one of Ridge’s true classics. The product of an October harvest after extensive crop thinning, it’s a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot that attained 13.4% natural alcohol.” – William Kelley
Average Rating: 93.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 179
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