Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale, translucent golden hue. Fresh-sliced pear, green apple; orange blossom, apricot, wet stone/mineral. Lively acid balances rich tropical fruit in a long finish.
An unusually warm February prompted an early start to the growing season. Set finished by late April, but yielded less fruit than usual; a mild summer ripened the grapes for an early-September harvest. The whole clusters went directly to our gentle membrane press. Natural primary and secondary fermentations took place in barrel. All lots spent ten months on their lees, and were stirred weekly during malolactic for added richness. Assemblage combined the most elegant and fruit-forward wines for this superb chardonnay. A portion was returned to barrel for continued aging and settling; the rest remained in tank, to balance freshness and complexity. The two were racked off the lees and reassembled for unfiltered bottling. The wine’s abundant fruit and refreshing acidity will be most enjoyable over the next five to six years.
Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. In the ’60s, we replanted a number of the abandoned 19th century vineyards to cabernet sauvignon, but did not extend the chardonnay planting. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and the Monte Bello chardonnay was sold principally at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ’74, ’79, and ’84, showed that our cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to the varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing less than 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”. The vines are now included in the estate, and produce a Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay annually. In years when differences among the twelve small lots are sufficiently pronounced to warrant a separate bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
Rainfall: 30 inches (just below average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Moderate summer and fall, long cool growing season.
Harvest Dates: 4 – 15 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.9
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. No inoculation. Natural primary and year-long secondary (malolactic)., Selection: Seven of the ten Monte Bello Vineyard chardonnay parcels or fractions thereof.
Aging: Air-dried oak (26% new, 48% one and two years, 26% three, four and five years old).
Time in Barrel: Sixteen months
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (November-December 2010): “Light bright yellow. Lively aromas of lemon, lime zest and green apple, with complicating notes of oak spice and sweet butter. Fleshy but taut, with bright citrus flavors that give way to deeper apple and pear in the mid-palate. The finish repeats the spice and orange notes and lingers with very good, nervy persistence. This is complex enough to drink now but is balanced to age. ” -Josh Raynolds (90 points)
Wine Spectator Insider (5 May 2010): “Fresh and snappy, with ripe, firm, vibrant, full-bodied citrus, green apple, spice and honeysuckle flavors that turn delicate and elegant. Drink now through 2016.” (Rated: 92) -James Laube
Average Rating: 90.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 52
View this wine on CellarTracker
See all food pairing recipes we have created specifically for this wine.See pairings