Santa Cruz Mountains
Intense medley of pear, apple, fig, pineapple. Citrus blossom, creme brulee, crushed rock/mineral, lemon zest. Rich, oily texture. Deep flavors. Firm acidity balanced by sweet fruit. EB (6/10)
Late winter rain was scarce, and February’s warm weather prompted the vines to bud early. Bloom was complete by the first week of May, and the vines set an abundant crop. A cool summer and continued cool weather in September slowed ripening, but enhanced flavor and acidity. The grapes were whole-cluster pressed, and their juice racked to barrel for an extended natural-yeast fermentation. The uninoculated malolactic finished promptly. We chose four small lots, combined them, and returned them to barrel with the original lees for additional complexity. Settling clarified the wine by its sixteenth month, and we bottled without filtration. Enjoyable now for its elegance and rich fruit, this superb- but limited- bottling will continue to develop over the next seven years.
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: 30 inches (just below average)
Bloom: Early budbreak in June
Weather: Moderate summer/fall. A long, cool growing season.
Harvest Dates: 19 September – 3 October
Harvest Conditions: Average Brix 24.6
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Juice aerated and racked to barrel for natural primary and secondary.
Selection: Eleven of the ten Monte Bello Vineyard chardonnay parcels or fractions thereof
Aging: 82% air-dried American oak & 18% French oak barrels (40% new, 41% one and two years, 19% three years old)
Time in Barrel: Sixteen months
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (November-December 2010): “Light, bright gold. Pungent aromas of melon, tangerine, lemon pith and vanilla, with mounting spiciness and a touch of anise. Spicy and tight on entry, quickly gaining flesh with air and offering sweeter pineapple and honeydew flavors that are given depth by a creamy vanilla quality. Here’s a rare example of chardonnay and American oak getting along. Finishes smooth and sweet, with echoes of spices and candied orange.” -Josh Raynolds (92 points)
Wine Spectator Insider (Vol. 7, No. 18 – 4 May 2010): “Shows more oak than this wine typically does at this stage. Aromas of fresh-cut flowers, white peach, vanilla, butterscotch and honey lead to pure, complex flavors of honeysuckle, ending on a delicate note. Drink now through 2017.” -James Laube (Rated: 91)
The Tasting Panel (October 2010): “Silky with smooth texture and rounded fruit, crisp acidity and a nice hint of cinnamon; rich and yet quite elegant with length and balance.” (Rated: 92)
Average Rating: 91.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 75
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