50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 48% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
Santa Cruz Mountains
Color: Ruby. Nose: Cassis, wild berry. Violet, vanilla bean, roasted coffee, cocoa, cedar. Palate: Blackberry, cassis/black currant. Toasted oak,clove, nutmeg. Full-bodied; viscous, silky texture. Mineral/wet limestone. A lengthy finish.
The Monte Bello estate vineyard is divided – by soil, exposure, and point of ripening – into thirty-six parcels that are harvested and fermented separately. The oldest were planted fifty-four years ago; average vine age is twenty-six years. Historically, each parcel produces a particular style, varying from the structured, long-lived wines set aside for the Monte Bello to the full, rich wines that make up the Home Ranch, and the well-defined, more approachable ones that go into the Santa Cruz Mountains. The 2002 Santa Cruz Mountains contains eight of the parcels. In the last phase of assemblage, a year after vintage, additional merlot was added for structural elegance. To soften tannins, barrel aging was extended to two full years in air-dried american oak, forty percent of which was new, forty-five percent one and two years old, and fifteen percent three and four years old. This appealing wine is redolent of deep, black fruit. It is enjoyable now, but will soften and develop further complexity over five to ten years of bottle age. EB/PD (9/04)
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 – produced the first Ridge Monte Bello in 1962, and subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, blocks replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. Softer, more accessible lots were combined as a different style of fine wine which, since 1979, we have called Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet.
Rainfall: 36.7 inches
Weather: Frost in April (rare). Cold, rainy May. Fine summer.
Harvest Dates: 24 September – 22 October
Grapes: Average brix 25.7 average pH at crush 3.49.
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural (uninoculated) primary in small (1-5 ton capacity) fermentors. Pressed at eight days. Natural malolactic (half in barrels, half in tanks).
Aging: Twenty-five months in barrel
Selection: Eight of the thirty-six Monte Bello vineyard parcels make up this Santa Cruz Mountains. These lots were fined with fresh egg whites, and given eight additional months of barrel age to soften tannins and add complexity.
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (27 July 2005): “Balanced oak and fruit nose with chocolate, toast and wild berry; wild berry pie, plum, coffee, tart red cherry and prune flavors; tannic; slight astringency; oaky finish.”
Average Rating: 90.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 37
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