Santa Cruz Mountains
Color – Pale sun-bleached straw. Nose – Pear, melon, pineapple, honeysuckle flowers, vanilla, caramel, licorice. Palate – Ripe melon, pear, mountain apple, lively acid, sweet pineapple, elegant, exotic barrel spices, floral, light brioche-toasted oak.
Though cold winter rains persisted into May, our estate vineyard escaped damage and set an abundant crop. June and July were unusually warm, allowing the vines to catch up after their late start; abundant groundwater minimized stress. The weather cooled in August, slowing ripening; we harvested in October. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed, and racked to barrel. A lengthy natural-yeast cold fermentation finished by year’s end; during the uninoculated secondary which followed, the lees were stirred every few weeks. By April, the lots were ready for blind tasting to determine assemblage. We selected the wine from four vineyard parcels where the vines showed least stress. Once assembled, it was allowed to settle, then racked off its lees for an unfiltered bottling. Elegant and approachable, this fine chardonnay will continue to develop over the next three to four years. (EB/PD 7/07)
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: Moderate summer/fall; light rain toward the end of harvest.
Harvest Dates: 15 September – 17 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.6
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and year-long secondary (malolactic).
Barrel: 41% new, 14% one and two year, 45% three, four and five years old air dried oak (89% american, 11% french)
Aging: Ten months in barrel
Wine Spectator Insider (7 May 2008): “Smooth, rich and creamy, complex and concentrated, with layers of spice, fig, honeysuckle and honeydew melon. Clean and refreshing, with light oak shadings. Not quite at the level of 2005, but give it a little time. Best from 2009 to 2013.” (Rated: 90) -James Laube
Average Rating: 90.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 87
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