Santa Cruz Mountains
Color: Golden sun-bleached straw Nose: Braised pear, freshly sliced apple, honey, anise, toasted brioche, caramel, wet flint minerality, and citrus blossom. Palate: Rich oily texture, full bodied, firm acid, focused fruits, beautiful finesse and balance, well-defined structure, and highly complex through the finish.
In 1962, when the number of fine California white wines could be counted on one hand, Ridge made its first Monte Bello Chardonnay. Not every vintage produces a Monte Bello-” recently, only 1999, 2000, and 2003. In 2004, after a wet winter, the vines flowered and set significantly earlier than usual. This, coupled with a mild summer, brought ripe flavors by early September-” also ahead of schedule. Each of the ten small parcels and sub-parcels was picked separately and whole-cluster pressed. The lots were racked to barrel, then spent three months in our cool underground cellars, fermenting to dryness on their own yeasts. A natural malolactic followed, finishing in late spring, when we selected three small, exceptional lots for this Monte Bello. Racked off the lees in August, the wines were returned to barrel and tank for six additional months of aging and settling, enabling us to bottle without filtration. This complex chardonnay is enjoyable now, but is still very young. It will develop more fully over the next five years. EB/PD (1/06)
In 1949 William Short, retired theologian and then-owner of the Ridge “middle” vineyard (2100′- 2400′), planted several acres of chardonnay; these vines provided the 1962 Monte Bello for the Ridge partners’ first vintage. During the next twenty-three years small amounts of chardonnay were produced each year under the Monte Bello name.
Rainfall: 75% below normal at 26″
Bloom: Early budbreak, due to dry soil and a warm March.
Weather: Good weather at budbreak, but a cold April slowed growth, moderate temperatures through harvest.
Harvest Dates: 6 September – 10 September
Grapes: Average Brix 24.7
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Juice aerated and racked to barrel for natural primary and secondary.
Barrels: 76% air-dried american oak barrels and 24% french oak barrels (28% new, 45% two years, 27% three years)
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 92 Points. “A rich, dramatic wine, the 2004 Chardonnay Monte Bello is drinking well, offering up a ripe bouquet of tarte tatin, grilled apricot and an exotic top note of petrol. On the palate, it’s ample, full-bodied and generous, with a broad attack underpinned by juicy acids. Eric Baugher observes that though the wine is very giving today, it took a while to open up in bottle.” – William Kelley
Vinous Media (July 2014): 94 Points “The 2004 Chardonnay Monte Bello is an intriguing wine, to say the least. Slight elements of Burgundian-like reduction need time in the decanter to dissipate before the wine starts to show the full breadth of its personality. Once it opens up, the 2004 is deep, powerful and intense to the core. Yellow stone fruits, hazelnuts, mint, spices, butter, pastry and tropical fruit all meld together effortlessly. At ten years of age, the 2004 is nowhere near decline. If anything, it still has many years of life ahead.” -Antonio Galloni
The Wine Advocate (October 2015): 95 Points “A sensational Chardonnay that’s drinking at point, the 2014 Chardonnay Monte Bello offers a ripe, voluptuous and full-bodied style to go with ample mature Chardonnay fruit, flower oil, orange blossom, and apricot-like aromas and flavors. Still lively, fresh, and incredibly pure with just a touch of nuttiness on the finish, I see no reason to hold off, yet it will no doubt continue to hold nicely going forward.” – Jeb Dunnuck
San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate (8 Feb 2008): “White wines can hold as much complexity as a red wine, with endless subtle nuances. Try the Ridge Monte Bello Chardonnay and you can spend the evening dissecting its complexity.” -Christina Kelly
Average Rating: 91.4
No. of Tasting Notes: 52
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