64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot
Santa Cruz Mountains
Intense currant/cassis aromas, with barrel tones of licorice, molasses, roasted coffee. Layered fruit set off by juniper, bay, light tobacco. Blackberry, licorice, leather/cedar and integrated oak on the palate. Mouth-filling dark fruit, elegant structural tannins, long finish.
The growing season on Monte Bello began on schedule for the first time in two years. Despite a short crop, we thinned at veraison in August, and harvested throughout October; each block was picked as flavors matured fully. Twelve of the thirty-four blocks and several press lots were selected for this fine companion wine to the Monte Bello. As it is a very structured wine, we fined with fresh egg whites, and extended barrel aging from the usual eighteen months to twenty-seven. The effects are evident. The wine is full-bodied and intense, tannins are soft and round; the additional time in wood has added cedary nuances to the rich, ripe fruit. Enjoyable now, it will continue to develop over the next ten years. PD (1/03)
The Monte Bello vineyard was first planted when the winery was built, in 1886. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; a few blocks were replanted in 1949. Those cabernet vines — now over fifty years old — made up the first Ridge Monte Bello in 1962, and subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, vines replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. The softer, more accessible lots were combined as a companion wine which, since 1979, we have designated Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet.
Rainfall: 41 inches, in winter.
Bloom: Early June
Weather: An early spring. Summer generally 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 malolactic (half in barrels, half in tanks).
Barrels: 81% new, air-dried american white oak; 2% new french oak; 14% tempered (one- and two- year-old) american oak; 5% tempered french oak.
Selection: Twelve of the thirty-four Monte Bello vineyard parcels make up this Santa Cruz Mountains. They were fined with fresh egg whites, and given eight additional months of barrel age to soften tannins and add complexity.
Wine Advocate (12/23/03): The 2000 Proprietary Red Wine (the words “Monte Bello” do not appear on the label) is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. A dense ruby color is followed by scents of chocolate, forest floor, dried herbs, tree bark, and smoke. Medium-bodied, rich, but firm, it will benefit from 2-3 years of cellaring. This elegant red should drink well for 10-12 years. Rated: 91
Wine & Spirits (12/03): The berry flavors range from bright black currant to blackberry, their fruitiness interwoven with tannin. Freshness keeps the intensity and power at bay, giving hints of the complexities to come with age. Even now, it’s ready to enjoy with roast venison or other game. Rated: 92
Average Rating: 89.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 27
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