Santa Cruz Mountains
Light in color. Ripe pear and apple fruit, citrus blossom, licorice, brioche/sweet oak. Well-defined, concentrated palate; elegant texture. Fresh and lively.
Though cold, wet weather delayed the growing season, by June the vines had set a full crop. Ripening continued through summer, but in August temperatures cooled again. We harvested over a thirty-day period. Grapes were whole-cluster pressed, and the juice racked to barrel. Natural primary lasted four months; natural secondary took only three. In August 2007, we chose four exceptional parcels, which were racked, assembled, and returned to barrel. At eighteen months the wine cleared, and was bottled without filtration. This fine chardonnay will benefit from a year or two in bottle, and develop fully over another six or seven. (EB 2/08)
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. Some rain towards the end of harvest.
Harvest Dates: 15 September – 12 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.0
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Juice aerated and racked to barrel for natural primary and secondary.
Selection: Four of the ten Monte Bello Vineyard chardonnay parcels or fractions thereof
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (26% new, 40% one and two years, 34% three, four and five years old)
Aging: Seventeen months in barrel
The Wine Advocate (October 2016) 94 Points – “The 2006 Chardonnay Monte Bello is drinking incredibly well today. A rich, unctuous white that’s loaded with notions of ginger snap, toasted nuts, orchard fruits and hints of brioche; it’s a serious, big, concentrated beauty that stays fresh and lively.” – Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous Media (July 2015): “The 2006 Chardonnay Monte Bello possesses striking energy and tension throughout, with finely-cut, chiseled fruit and remarkable freshness for its age. White orchard fruit, flowers, mint and a hint of spice add nuance, but it is the wine’s pulsating freshness that really makes an impression in this tasting. Ridge hit it out of the park with the 2006 Monte Bello Chardonnay. As good as the 2006 is, it appears to still need a little more bottle age to be at its peak!” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 96)
Wine Spectator Insider (25 November 2009): “There’s wonderful perfumed, floral aromas of honeysuckle, lavender, ripe pear and apple in this pure, rich and silky white, which unfolds to reveal layers of fruit and light spicy, toasty oak nuances. Ends with a long, persistent finish that’s engagingly complex. Drink now through 2016.” (Rated: 95) -James Laube
Sommelier India (November-December 2010) – Killer California Chardonnays: “A classic Killer California Chardonnay. Gently barreled for 18 months, this unctuous Chard brims with pear/apple flavours, some floral notes, with complexity few white wines can offer and a simmering, languorous finish. A showstopper.” -Bob Ecker
Sunset Wine Awards 2009 (November 2009) – Deep Pocket Wines, White “Why we chose it: Lively citrus brightens classic golden apple.”
Average Rating: 92.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 145
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