Santa Cruz Mountains
Very viscous and full bodied with firm, juicy acidity. Notes of citrus.
Inclement weather battered our mountain vineyard this year, and delayed the arrival of spring. Not until early June did the growing season really get underway. Fortunately, five weeks of unusually warm weather caused an inversion layer, increasing both nighttime and daytime temperatures. The vines caught up sufficiently for the grapes to attain full flavor, albeit with very firm acidity. We harvested in early October, pressed the fruit as whole clusters, and racked to air-dried american oak barrels for a natural-yeast fermentation. During an extended in-barrel malolactic, the lees were stirred once a week. In a series of blind tastings, we selected eight beautifully-integrated lots showing defined, yet sensuous fruit. This excellent Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay is enjoyable now, and will develop fully over the next four to five years. EB/PD (12/06)
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: 46 inches (slightly above average)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Late spring/early summer rains, moderate summer and fall.
Harvest Dates: 30 September – 13 October
Grapes: Average brix 24.9
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and year-long secondary (malolactic).
Barrels: 21% new, 24% one year, 10% two year – all air-dried american oak; of the well-tempered, three and four year oak, 27% were american, 18% french.
Aging: Eleven months in barrels, plus four additional months of extended settling in tank.
Wine Spectator (15 November 2007): Ranked #2 in Top 100 Wines of 2007 – “The Chardonnay in the Ridge lineup might be overshadowed by the label’s famous Cabernet-based Monte Bello, but Ridge has been making Chardonnay since 1962. The Santa Cruz bottling comes from 12 lots of vines planted on the Monte Bello estate vineyard in the 1980s, with elevation ranging from 1,400 to 1,900 feet. The cool, mountain climate keeps the acidity lively and the flavors fresh and concentrated. Paul Draper is winemaker.”
Average Rating: 92.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 129
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