75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc
Santa Cruz Mountains
Spicy aromas of cedar, coffee, cola syrup, and cinnamon complement dark black cherry/plum fruit, cedar, and tar. Fruit in good balance with chalky tannins. Needs time to open, and time to age.
113 tons from 108 acres. For the first time in three years, the growing season began on schedule. In early June, however, cold wet winds directly off the Pacific caught the Monte Bello vines in bloom. Though this cut down the number of berries, it reduced berry size as well, improving the odds for ripeness and intensity at harvest. Despite several very warm days in August, and again in September, the season was cool. Merlot came in between the first and fifteenth of October, followed by the cabernet. After a natural primary fermentation, most of the lots completed a natural malolactic in barrel, the rest in tank. As part of our ongoing comparison, over ninety percent was aged in new, air-dried american oak, the remainder in new french oak. Twenty-one of the thirty-four parcels were chosen for this wine. In January of its second winter, a quarter of the barrels were heavily fined with fresh egg whites – the equivalent of five per barrel for the entire lot. The 2000 Monte Bello, one of the finest wines of this vintage in California, celebrates the end of a century and the beginning of another. Complex and beautifully balanced, its full promise will be apparent with six years of bottle age.
The Monte Bello estate vineyard was planted, and the winery constructed, in 1886. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; by the 1940s it was effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962). Since then, the original vineyards have gradually been replanted.
Rainfall: 41 inches, in winter.
Bloom: Early June.
Weather: An early spring. Summer cooler than usual.
Harvest Dates: 19 September – 2 November
Grapes: Average brix 24.0˚; average pH at crush 3.35.
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 40% whole berries. Small (1-5 ton capacity) fermentors. Daily pump-overs for first five/six days. Pressed at nine days. Natural (uninoculated) fermentations, natural malolactic (3/4 in barrel, 1/4 in tank).
Aging: Eighteen months in small cooperage.
Barrels: 92% new, air-dried american white oak (three french coopers, five american coopers). 8% new french oak (two french coopers), as part of our ongoing comparison.
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 93 Points. “The 2000 Monte Bello exhibits a briary, rustic bouquet, with notions of grilled meat, cigar ash and leather complementing its rich blackberry, cassis and plum fruit. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, fleshy and supple, with an ample core of succulent fruit, melting tannins and a long, savory finish. It’s drinking beautifully today, especially with a decant (which helps to integrate this Monte Bello’s wild side). The product of a cool September, the 2000 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc that attained 13.4% natural alcohol.” – William Kelley
Vinous Media (July 2013): “Do you want the good news or the bad news? Well, Ridge’s 2000 Monte Bello is still not ready to drink. Huge, rich and voluptuous, but backed up be serious structure, the 2000 is still a very, very young wine. Readers who own the 2000 should be thrilled. With time in the glass, the 2000 starts to open up a little bit aromatically, but the tannins remain imposing. Hints of tobacco, iron, smoke, savory herbs, leather and licorice all add nuance on the close. This dramatic, brooding Monte Bello will likely drink well for another three decades. In 2000, Montebello is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 95)
May 2006: The 2000 Monte Bello was the consensus top wine in the Recent Reds (California Cabernet) tastings jointly held at Berry Bros. & Rudd (London) and COPIA (Napa) as part of the 30th anniversary re-enactment of the historic 1976 “Judgment of Paris” tasting.
Wine Advocate (23 Dec 2003): “The great classics here are the proprietary reds from the Monte Bello Vineyard, which are now aged in 90% American and 10% French oak. The 2000 Monte Bello Proprietary Red (75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc) is a surprisingly forward example of a Ridge Monte Bello. Its dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by sweet toasty oak along with crÃ¨me de cassis, licorice, and resin-like aromas. Medium to full-bodied, nicely textured, and elegant with soft tannin as well as a forward style (surprising in view of winemaker Paul Draper’s typical style), I would not be surprised to see it firm up considerably in the bottle, and last for 12-13 years. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2016.” Rated: 90
Wine & Spirits (Dec 2003): “Built for the ages, this requires several days of air to begin to express all its complexity. From the beginning, however, it gives a sense of soil, of fruit pushed through the raspy expression of the soil to emerge with flavors of dark red berries fresh off the vine.” Rated: 93
International Wine Cellar (Jun 2003): “Saturated ruby-red. Aromas of redcurrant, wild strawberry, cocoa powder and mocha. Dense, lush and seamless; very sweet and full for a Monte Bello despite the bright acidity. Finishes sweet and rich but bright and firm. This is 13.6% alcohol, unusually high for this wine, and today one sees the wine’s baby fat more than its underlying backbone.” Rated: 92-94
Average Rating: 92.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 233
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