2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay

Wine Information

100% Chardonnay




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Color: Pale golden straw Nose: Ripe Granny Smith apple, cr-me brul-e, vanilla bean, brioche. Floral notes. Palate: Pear, crisp green apple, melon, tropical fruits, sweet almond. Lively acidity, balanced oak, pleasant viscosity. Classic Santa Cruz Mountains cool-climate chardonnay.

Vintage Notes

Spring came early to our mountain vineyard – bud break was in mid-February. Cold winds and rain struck in both April and May, however, delaying fruit formation (set), and moderately reducing the crop. The season remained behind schedule through a mild summer, but caught up quickly when the weather turned hot in mid-September. We harvested over ten days in late September, sorting the whole clusters as we filled the press. All parcels were fermented in barrel on their natural yeasts, and completed a natural malolactic. Ten months later, we selected seven of the twelve for this Santa Cruz Mountains bottling. One-third of the wine comes from three neighboring vineyards, which we farm; two-thirds is grown on the estate. Fresh and approachable now, with focused, distinctive fruit, this lovely chardonnay will be will be at its best over the next three years. EB/PD (8/04)


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 the lots are sufficiently pronounced to warrant a separate bottling, we make a few barrels of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.

Growing Season

Rainfall: 51 inches (above normal)
Bloom: June
Weather: Rain in April, May. Fine weather at bloom, mild summer, warm at harvest.


Harvest Dates: 22 September – 2 October
Grapes: Average brix 24.9-, average pH at crush 3.22.
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary.
Barrels: 63% air-dried american oak barrels, 37% french oak barrels. Of this total, 14% were new, 14% one year old, 50% two and three, 22% four and five years old.
Aging: Twelve months in barrel


San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (Dec 2006): one of the Top 100 Wines of 2006 – “It’s distinctive for its mint and honey aromas, yet also has typical Chardonnay character of apple, pear, tropical fruit, spice and toast. Slightly oily on entry, it finishes long and clean.” Read article at SFGate.comArticle

San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (26 Jan 2006): “Ridge makes just one white wine on a regular basis and this is it. The wine is distinctive for its mint and honey aromas, yet also offers classic Chardonnay character and complexity; apple, pear and tropical-fruit aromas and flavors, brown spice, hazelnut and toast notes and a rich, slightly oily texture. The finish is long and clean.” Rated: 3.5 stars (of 4) Read article at SFGate.comArticle

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 88.3

No. of Tasting Notes: 9

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