86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot
Santa Cruz Mountains
103 tons from 50 acres. The late start gave us no “hang time” in which to lose acid, which was the highest to date of our thirty-two-year history. A full malolactic fermentation brought these acidic wines into balance. In mid-December, as we began assemblage tastings, we found that, for the first time in years, we were holding some wines out because they seemed too tannic. To ensure balanced structure, we did the most rigorous selection of our history, keeping sixty percent of the Monte Bello wines out of the final assemblage. This will benefit the ’93 Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet, however, as more of the estate wine than usual will be available for inclusion. The Monte Bello was aged for sixteen months in new oak cooperage. Approximately three quarters was in air-dried american oak—from four american and two french coopers. The remainder was done experimentally—a yearly exercise—in french-crafted european oak from two different regions—the Vosges, and the Center of France. In June of the first year, we fined with fresh egg whites. Because the merlot was so tannic, less was included than in most recent vintages. The petit verdot was well balanced, and added richness and depth. This beautifully-structured wine is among the finest of the last ten years. Quantities are limited, but quality is superb.
Late—but benign—spring rains delayed the start of the growing season at Monte Bello. In anticipation of a equally delayed harvest date, we thinned the crop heavily. Nights were cool throughout the summer, but late October’s warm weather pushed the fruit to full maturity. The merlot on South Slope was picked October 1st, but the cabernet did not ripen fully until the 18th. The twenty different vineyard sections are picked more by taste than by sugar and acid readings
Average Rating: 92.6
No. of Tasting Notes: 79
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