Santa Cruz Mountains
Heavy winter rains were followed by a warm February and early budbreak; mild spring weather brought on an early set as well. In June and July, cooler-than usual temperatures allowed ripeness and flavor to develop slowly. Harvest began on September 6, and Monte Bello’s twelve small blocks were picked during the next five days. We hand-harvest in the early mornings, pressing the fruit as whole clusters, without destemming or crushing. Each lot was racked to barrel separately, finishing a natural primary fermentation after three months. Left on their lees, the wines completed an uninoculated secondary (malolactic) fermentation eight months later. We chose eight of the twelve lots for this classic Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay; its firm acidity and notable mineral component reflect the distinctive site. Enjoyable now, the wine will be at its best over the next five years. EB/PD (9/05)
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.
Rainfall: 26 inches (below normal)
Weather: Warm March, cool April, moderate summer.
Harvest Dates: 6 – 9 September
Grapes: Average brix 24.6
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and secondary.
Barrels: 22% new and one year old air-dried american oak, 78% two and three years old air-dried barrels of which 23% were french and 55% american oak.
Aging: Eleven months in barrel
Los Angeles Times (27 June 2007): “The only white that Ridge makes; stylistically it is always quite austere by the standards of a typical American Chardonnay. It’s not overtly fruity, and its intense minerality holds the wine in check in its youth. The 2004 leads with aromas of ripe pears, butter and flint, and a faint scent of fresh green peas. It’s broad and substantial on the palate.”
Average Rating: 89.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 18
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