Santa Cruz Mountains
This is the twenty-fifth Monte Bello Chardonnay produced since 1962. The grapes are from our estate vineyards on Monte Bello Ridge in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains. After natural primary and secondary fermentations in barrel, three parcels-” representing only fourteen percent of the estate chardonnay-” were selected for this Monte Bello. The three were racked off their lees in early August, combined, and returned to barrel for three months of settling. Aged for a total of fourteen months-” eighty percent in air-dried american oak, twenty percent in french-” this superb wine was bottled, unfiltered, in early January. It reflects the cool climate and fractured-limestone sub-soils of its distinctive site, and is one of the finest white wines Ridge has produced. Enjoyable now, it will be at its best with one to five years of bottle age. PD (11/01)
Ridge produced its first Monte Bello Chardonnay in 1962 from fully mature vines planted in the late 1940s. In the ’60s, we extended the old cabernet vineyard, but not the chardonnay. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and the wine was sold principally from the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ’74, ’79, and ’84, showed that Monte Bello’s cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to this varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing less then a half-ton per acre; the younger ones, planted in the 70s, were providing the majority of grapes. These newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard, which was not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate, so the wine was designated “Santa Cruz Mountains” Chardonnay. The vines are now included in the estate, and produce a Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay annually. In years when differences among lots are sufficiently pronounced to warrant a separate bottling, we make a few barrels of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
La Revue Du Vin De France (Jul/Aug 2004): ” Un chardonnay succulent, Ãƒ la chair savoureuse et raffinÃƒÂ©e. (A succulent chardonnay, with savory and refined flesh.)”
Wine Spectator (29 Jan 04): Matt Kramer – My Wines of the Year: If you say “Ridge” the automatic word association is “red.” (Or, alternatively, “Zinfandel.”) But one of Ridge’s greatest wines is white, specifically its Monte Bello Chardonnay. This year I had the chance to taste numerous bottles of Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay going back to 1976. Anyone who says that California cannot make Chardonnays capable of rivaling grand cru white Burgundy has not been lucky enough to taste mature Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay.
Wine Advocate (23 Dec 2003): I found an interesting buttery/hazelnut characteristic in all three of the Ridge Chardonnays. My favorite is the 2000 Chardonnay Monte Bello, which offers pineapple notes intermixed with hazelnuts and buttered citrus in an opulent, medium to full-bodied style with enough underlying acidity to provide delineation. I would not be surprised to see it age well for 5-6 years. Rated: 90
Wine & Spirits Buying Guide 2004 (Winter 2003): Grown on a limestone ridge high above the Pacific, this great California chardonnay doesn’t make itself immediately available. There’s the fresh scent of the sea, an integration that implies the brown spices of oak and the brighter peach of ripe fruit, a smooth, fresh balance, but little more. Tasted a day later, the scent has evolved to subtle mineral and green tea, the fruit has developed to orange blossom and orange pith. And the length has increased to draw the flavors off in an ever-receding tide, perceptible for minutes, implying that the wine will need ten years or more to fully develop. Here is a chardonnay of extraordinary stature, proof of what this noble vine can achieve in the New World, given the right vineyard conditions, minimal handling, maximum thought and care. Rated: 95
Average Rating: 92
No. of Tasting Notes: 2
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