2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Information

75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Opaque garnet color. Layered cassis and blackberry, fennel, dark chocolate, limestone/mineral notes, toasty oak. Complex fruit, tannins, and oak are impressively balanced. Drinkable now, and over the next fifteen years. -Eric Baugher (2/11)

Vintage Notes

A severe winter ended in early February, leaving the vines short of water by late August. Moderate summer weather ripened the small crop during
the first three weeks of October. Color and tannin extracted rapidly from the small berries. Parcels that make up the Estate Cabernet consistently produce wines that are more accessible and elegantly structured than those dedicated to the Monte Bello. Typically, we reduce pump-overs and press early, balancing tannins to fruit. Enjoyable now, this superb wine will age beautifully over the next fifteen to twenty years. EB (6/10)

Limestone sub soils, cool climate, low yields, natural fermentations, and our undivided attention have produced fifty vintages of exceptionally fine wines. The distinctive character of the world’s great wines has always been determined by their site—by nature, not by man. PD (4/10)


The Monte Bello vineyard was first planted when the winery was built, in 1886. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; in the late forties a few blocks were replanted. Those cabernet vines- now sixty years old- produced the first Ridge Monte Bello in 1962 and alone produced subsequent vintages until the mid-seventies. By then, abandoned blocks replanted during the sixties were maturing, and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. A number of those consistently produced a softer, more accessible wine and were combined as what we now call the stylistically distinct Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

Growing Season

Rainfall: 30 inches (just below normal)

Bloom: Early June

Weather: Moderate summer and fall.


Harvest Dates: 29 September – 21 October

Grapes: Average Brix 24.5

Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 60% full crush, 40% whole berries. Small (1-6 ton capacity) fermentors. Pressed at six days. Natural (uninoculated) malolactic (half in barrel, half in tank)

Selection: Twenty-four of the thirty-six Monte Bello Vineyard parcels make up this Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (40% new, 50% one year old, 10% two years old

Aging: Twenty months in barrel

Fresh estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Fermented on the naturally occurring native yeasts, followed by a full malolactic on the naturally-occurring bacteria. No inoculation. No Additives of any kind other than 24mg/liter (2,500 grams total) calcium carbonate to two of the forty-three small fermentors to moderate very firm acidity; 25/100 of one percent rehydration (added to one fermentor of cabernet); minimum effective sulfur for this wine (35 parts per million at crush; 180 ppm over the course of eighteen months of barrel aging); fresh egg white fining to moderate tannins in all lots. No processing whatever other than destemming and partial crushing, sorting and, at bottling, pad filtration.


Decanter (September 2012) – Hidden Treasures (California Supplement) – “The second wine from Ridge’s home parcel is racy and tight, showing its aromatic powers at their very best – dusky red fruit, deep earth, burnt sage and roasted tobacco characteristics. The strong minerality is almost a little too intense on the palate when drunk this young. Drink 2012-2020.” (Rated: 18/93)

Wine Advocate (Issue 196, August 2011): “The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is compelling. Where to start? An expressive bouquet redolent of sweet herbs, tobacco and incense leads to a gorgeous tapestry of dark red fruit. The Estate is drop-dead gorgeous, with the silkiest of tannins that frame an extraordinary finish. This has to be one of the most compelling values in California Cabernet. In 2008 the blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Draper describes 2008 as the driest of the three drought years spanning 2006-2008. The 2008 is the first vintage for the Cabernet Sauvignon, which used to be called Santa Cruz Mountains. In 2008 a spring harvest frost damaged much of the Merlot crop, so there was no natural outlet for the Merlot that had previously been used in the Santa Cruz Mountains bottling, but in 2009 there will be a new Merlot bottling. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2028.

I tasted a breathtaking array of wines during my recent visit with Paul Draper at Ridge. Draper is a true American icon, so it’s great to see him doing well after a bout with illness. I also tasted a number of older wines, including several Monte Bellos going back to the 1970s. Heretical as it may sound, I think the wines Draper is making today will prove to be far superior to the wines of decades past, many of which are rightly considered legendary. For ease of reference I have also included notes on all of the Ridge wines made outside the Santa Cruz Mountains. The Chardonnays are fermented with native yeasts and go into barrel with their gross lees, which are stirred once a week. The malos usually start the following spring. The wines are assembled just before the following harvest and go back into neutral oak. Aging is about 15 months for the Estate and 17 months for the Chardonnay Monte Bello, with a maximum of 25% new barrels. The reds are fermented with ambient yeasts, undergo malolactic fermentation in tank (except for the Monte Bello which is mostly done in barrel) and stay on their gross lees until the following spring.” -Antonio Galloni, (Rated: 94)

Wine Enthusiast (September 2011) – “A lovely Cabernet, dry and rich in flavor, showing lots of class. It’s certainly ripe, with blackberry and cherry flavors that veer into currants. There’s also a minerally tang. The wine is immature now, with hard tannins. Think of it as a junior version of Ridge’s Monte Bello bottling, not as long lived, but still deserving of 6-8 years in a cool cellar. Cellar Selection.” -Steve Heimoff (Rated: 90)

JamesSuckling.com (15 June 2011) The Balance of 2008 California Cabernet – “This is very closed on the nose, but it is showing notes of blueberries, Spanish cedar, and sandalwood. Full-bodied, with firm and fine tannins and a light vanilla and berry character. This is textbook traditional California Cabernet. A lovely depth of fruit that gives way to roses on the finish. Subtle. Try it after 2014.” (Score: 94)

California Grapevine (Vol. 37, No. 3, June-July 2011): “Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, plummy, cedary, dark berry fruit aroma with hints of saddle leather and graphite; full body; tight, slightly tart, herbal, dark currant and blackberry flavors with notes of green olive and graphite; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.0, 1/0/6; My Score: 17 [90/100], third place)

Vinography.com (4 June 2011) – “Dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cedar, cocoa powder, and fennel seeds. In the mouth beautiful flavors of violets, licorice, and black cherry mix with powdery, mouth-coating tannins. Notes of tobacco and cassis linger on the finish. Powerful, yet restrained at the same time. Quite compelling.” -Alder Yarrow (Score: 9-9.5 points) Read full blog entry at Vinography.com Article

Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (May-June 2011): “Vivid ruby. Oak-spicy aromas of redcurrant, dried cherry and cola, with a hint of smokiness in the background. Fleshy and smooth in the mouth, offering juicy dark berry flavors and mounting vanilla and mocha notes. Finishes with good smoky persistence and resonating cherry and vanilla notes. Gentle tannins make for accessibility but also suggest that this will repay at least five years of patience. This wine, made from the lots that are more accessible and elegantly structured than those destined for Ridge’s flagship Monte Bello bottling, has 20% merlot, 3% petit verdot and 2% cabernet franc in the blend.” -Josh Raynolds (90 points)

DailyGrape.com (May 2011 newsletter) – “Beautiful structure on the nose with great balance, not over oaked thats for sure. I’ve always felt that Jancis Robinson, who loves Ridge, kind of overrates them. But dammit, is Jancis right again? This wine is lights out, spectacular. If I had any doubt, tasting this wine takes that doubt away. Savory black tea, kirsch and plum dance around my palate, sitting beautifully on top of its silky frame that is wonderfully balanced. Its minerality and circa-1991 cabernet flavors bring me back to the good old days. Crap, I like this… a lot! Super wishlist worthy.” -Gary Vaynerchuk (Score: 92 points)

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 91.5

No. of Tasting Notes: 246

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