Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale, sun-bleached straw with aromas of green hints of pineapple, mango, Wet limestone, light toasty the palate: more green mineral notes. Firm, integrated acidity; long finish.
A mild winter and early spring allowed our chardonnay to set a full crop; we thinned to balance the number of clusters to the strength of each vine. Thanks to a warm, fog-free summer, the fruit at harvest was as clean and perfect as we have seen. The grapes were not de-stemmed and crushed, but pressed as whole clusters. Once racked to barrels (eighty percent air-dried american oak, twenty percent french), the juice fermented on naturally-present yeasts, finishing primary fermentation by January. From then until June the barrels were stirred once a week during the natural malolactic. The wines settled out over the summer; we then selected six lots, each from a different parcel, as finest and most representative of the vineyard. These were combined and returned to barrel and tank for extended aging and settling, enabling us to bottle without filtration. This lovely, cool-climate chardonnay will be at its best over the next three to four years. PD (12/02)
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.
Rainfall: Most in mid-winter, little in spring, water stress by August. (less than normal)
Bloom: May (normal)
Weather: Mild winter; warm spring, summer, fall.
Harvest Dates: 11 September – 3 October
Grapes:Average brix 25.0°, average pH at crush 3.13.
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary (malolactic). After the wine fermented to dryness (1/02), the lees were stirred weekly until secondary finished in June.
Barrels: 80% air-dried american oak barrels, 20% french oak barrels. Of this total, one-third were new, one-sixth one year old, and one-half three and four years old.
Aging: Sixteen months in barrel
Wine Enthusiast (31 Dec 2004): Top 100 Wines of 2004 – “Amazingly intense and concentrated. Swamps the palate with pear and peach fruit, and a rich acidic structure. Oak plays a role in adding smoke, vanilla and sweet tannins. Long and penetrating, lush and vital. Combines power and subtlety in a rare way.” Rated: 94
Wine Advocate (23 Dec 2003): “I found an interesting buttery/hazelnut characteristic in all three of the Ridge Chardonnays. (The fat, soft, tasty 2000 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains exhibits white peach-like aromas…) The 2001 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains is fresher, livelier, and more vigorous, but similar in style.” Rated: 88
Wine Spectator (Dec 2003): ” Well-crafted, with rich buttery oak and vanilla scents leading the aroma. Turns rich and complex on the palate, with a mix of pear, fig, spice and cedary dill- scented oak. Drink now through 2007." -J.L. Rated: 90
Food & Wine (Nov 2003): “Ridge’s 2001 bottling from the Santa Cruz Mountains has the concentration and power of many full-bodied reds, but with pear and yellow-apple notes that provide a wonderful counterpoint to turkey and vegetables.”
Average Rating: 86
No. of Tasting Notes: 2
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