Santa Cruz Mountains
A long, cool growing season delayed harvest until early October. Flavor developed fully, and the extra time allowed the chardonnay’s typically high acidity to drop, and achieve balance. The fruit was of superb quality, albeit meager quantity. Pressed as whole clusters, the lots were racked separately to air-dried american oak barrels. Primary natural-yeast fermentation took three months; the natural secondary progressed slowly—twenty months to completion. For additional richness, lees were stirred weekly for the first ten months of that time. In August, with secondary still in progress, we blind-tasted, choosing twenty-five barrels from three lots for the Monte Bello.These, including their gross lees, were carefully racked to tank and kept at 68˚F to encourage fermentation to finish. At eighteen months, the wine was racked back to barrel for settling, then bottled without filtration. Extended barrel age and settling time have resulted in complexity, integration, and brilliant clarity. Monte Bello’s cool climate and limestone sub-soils contribute firm acidity and intense fruit. This unusual vintage is enjoyable now, and will continue to develop into the next decade. EB (5/07)
In 1949 William Short, retired theologian and then-owner of the Ridge “middle” vineyard (2070′ – 2390′), planted several acres of
chardonnay, which provided the 1962 estate Monte Bello Chardonnay for the Ridge partners’ first vintage. From 1962 to
1984, limited amounts of chardonnay were produced each year under the Monte Bello designation. By 1985, younger, replanted
vines had begun to supplant the older vines, whose yields had dropped to a quarter-ton per acre. (To distinguish this wine from the
Monte Bello, we called it Santa Cruz Mountains.) Fifteen years later, in 1999, the young vines had matured; we were able to select
several exceptional parcels for a Monte Bello, a practice that continues to the present.
Rainfall: 42 inches (slightly above average)
Bloom: Early budbreak in June; cool wet weather limited fruit formation.
Weather: Moderate summer and fall; perfect weather through harvest.
Harvest Dates: 30 September – 7 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.6°
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Juice aerated and racked to barrel for natural primary and secondary.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (27% new, 40% one to two years, 33% three, four and five years old)
Aging: Twenty months in barrel
Average Rating: 91.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 7
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