77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot
Santa Cruz Mountains
Deep garnet. Pungent aroma. Blackberry, currant, wild fennel, cola, black olive. Full-bodied, medium chalky-tannin structure, black tea. Great depth of flavor, firm acid, lengthy finish. -Eric Baugher (2/12)
A long, cold winter delayed the start of the growing season. Beginning in early July, a series of heat waves led to a strong inversion, which warmed the typically cool nights, and moderated acidity. Optimal daytime temperatures allowed the vines to catch up. Veraison began in late July, and grape sampling in late August. The first block was picked September 23, the last on October 12â€”a day before very heavy rains. Seventeen estate cabernet parcels were selected by blind tasting. Elegant and approachable now, this superb vintage will continue to develop over the next ten to fifteen years. EB (3/11)
In 1886 the Monte Bello vineyard was first planted and construction on the winery begun. The first vintage was in 1892. 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 (1962) and 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 more accessible wine that developed its full complexity earlier and these were combined as the “Santa Cruz Mountains.” With the 2008 vintage the name of this stylistically distinct wine becomes Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, stressing the varietal and the Monte Bello vineyard as its source.`
Rainfall: 28 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool spring; warm summer and fall, short growing season.
Harvest Dates: 25 September – 12 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.2
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 60% full crush, 40% whole berries. Fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at nine days. Natural malolactic (half in barrel, half in tank).
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels; (15% new, 35% one year, and 50% two years old)
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel
All estate-grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and sorted. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. 16/100 of one percent rehydration (added to one particularly ripe fermentor of cabernet) during fermentation; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 135 ppm over the course of aging); fresh egg white fining to moderate tannins. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine Enthusiast (December 2012) – Top 100 Cellar Selections – “This Cabernet-Merlot blend is packed with blackberry and crÃ¨me de cassis flavors, with a firm minerality. With the weight of the midpalate and the long, spicy finish, it’s especially attractive, although it’s also quite tannic. The only difference between this Estate Monte Bello Cabernet and Ridge’s Monte Bello Estate Cabernet ($150; note the difference in the placement of ‘estate’) is that the winemaker selected lots from the vineyard that were considered more accessible, which in this case means more luscious. Despite its many charms, the wine should age for a long time.” -Steve Heimoff (Rated: 95)
Wine Advocate (Issue 202, August 2012): “The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot) is gorgeous. Dark red berries, grilled herbs, spice box, cedar and tobacco are some of the notes that flesh out in the radiant, expressive Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. This attractive, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon can be enjoyed with minimum cellaring. Think of it as a baby Monte Bello to drink while the 2009 Monte Bello ages. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2021.
Indiana Jones and I have one thing in common, a fear of snakes. That is why every time I see the sign in the Ridge parking lot that reads ‘Beware of rattlesnakes,’ I get a little uneasy. So it’s quickly into the tasting room for me. Winemaker Eric Baugher and his team have prepared a great tasting covering all of the Ridge classics, plus a few smaller-production bottlings I am tasting for the first time. This is a sublime set of new releases from one of this country’s greatest heritage wineries. It’s hard to know where to start, but the highlights are the 2009 Monte Bello, followed by the 2010, which will be released this year, plus some of the Zinfandels and Zinfandel-based wines. The 2010 harvest was not an easy one. The summer was very cold, as it was throughout California. Ridge was severely affected by August heat spikes that were crippling for Zinfandel. The wines that were bottled are the result of a severe selection of the best fruit that survived the heat.” -Antonio Galloni, (Rated: 92)
International Wine Report (September 2012): “The 2009 Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon delivers lots of sweet cassis, ripe black cherry, dried herbs, tar, pain grille, backed up by beautiful spring floral and fresh mineral. This shows precise focus and balance with polished dusty tannins leading into the long supple finish. This Cabernet is delicious and really delivers, while approachable now, will also last well over a decade. 77% cabernet sauvignon with 23% merlot. (Drink 2012-2023)” (Rated: 93+)
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar (November-December 2012): “Opaque ruby. Smoky, expressive bouquet evokes cherry-vanilla, pipe tobacco, mocha and a touch of anise. Plump, open-knit cherry and dark berry flavors show very good depth and pick up spice and floral nuances with air. Fine-grained, gentle tannins come on late and add shape to the long, fruit-dominated finish.” (Rated: 91)
Average Rating: 91.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 215
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