72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot
96+ Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
96 Points – James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
Santa Cruz Mountains
Deep ruby/purple; blackberry, red current, ripe cassis, cedar, crushed rock minerality, toasted oak; Full-body, rich tannin structure, dark berry fruit, firm acid, wet-stone, juniper, forest floor, cola, and lingering exotic oak spice finish.
A long, cold winter and cool spring led to a late start, but warm summer weather brought the vines back on schedule. The last grapes were picked on October 12, one day before torrential rains. At first assemblage in February, one Estate cabernet parcel was included in the blind tastings due to its intensity, and was selected, along with fifteen of the nineteen Monte Bello parcels; two more were added in May. At ten, twenty, or thirty years of age, this exceptional vintage will match the finest of any region. EB (3/11)
In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the initial plantings of the Monte Bello estate vineyard were set out, and winery construction begun. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; some vines survived into the late 30’s, but by the 1940s they were effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962). Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.
Rainfall: 28 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Cool spring, warm summer and fall, short growing season
Harvest Dates: 23 September – 12 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.6
Fermentation: Destemmed, and left uncrushed as whole berries. Automated berry sorting followed by hand sorting. Natural primary and secondary fermentations. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 97% new and 1% one year old air-dried american oak; 2% new french oak (for comparison.)
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel
78 tons from 58 acres. All estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and sorted. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally-occurring bacteria. A total of 86/100 of one percent rehydration (added to three fermentors of cabernet) during fermentation; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 78 ppm over the course of aging); unfined. Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Vinous Media: 96+ Points “The 2009 Monte Bello feels very ripe and lush in its first impression, but the tannins have not softened all that much yet. Game, smoke, licorice and leather gradually open up with a bit of aeration. The 2009 is endowed with tremendous depth of fruit, but the equally imposing tannins need time to soften. All of this fruit was picked before the mid-October rains.” – Antonio Galloni (October 2019)
Wine Spectator: 96 Points “The 2009 is a rare Monte Bello that seems dominated by its fruit, with the structure taking a back seat to waves of red currant, blackberry and plum sauce flavors. It has flashes of spice, tea and cedar, showing a lightly mulled edge through the finish that really opens nicely in the glass.” – James Molesworth (June 2019)
Wine Advocate: “The 2009 Monte Bello, 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot is simply magnificent. Layers of dark red fruit, flowers, spices and graphite are all woven together in this utterly impeccable wine. The 2009 is an especially huge, intense Monte Bello, yet a sexy, silky core of fruit lies within its imposing frame. Everything comes together in this glorious, radiant wine. Last year the 2009 had some pretty stiff competition from the 2010, but today it is simply firing on all cylinders. Eric Baugher describes 2009 as a year with cold weather early on, followed by heat in early June and July. The fruit was brought in on October 12, just before an intense downpour swept through the region. There is a purity and silkiness supported by structure in the 2009 that is impossible not to admire. Simply put, this is another utterly magnificent, towering masterpiece from Ridge. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2049. (Issue 202, August 2012)
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 countryâ€™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: 98)
Connoisseurs’ Guide: “Ridge has quietly been making world-class Cabernets for some forty years and, from the beginning, they have been balanced wines that have emphasized beauty over brawn. This latest is a deep and wonderfully refined working that teams a wealth of precise varietal fruit with suggestions of fresh loam, briar, black tea and a very complementary measure of mildly vanillin oak. Make no mistake, this is by no means a ‘light’ wine, and despite being so well crafted as to be almost seamless, it needs several years of age before even starting to hit its stride, and it is guaranteed to continue to grow for a generation.” Rated: 95 (***) (December 2012)
San Francisco Chronicle – Top 100 Wines in the West – “Quite simply, one of the best California Cabernet-based wines I’ve ever had, although with 22 percent Merlot and 6 percent Petit Verdot, it’s a true blend. A cool early season got Monte Bello off to a modest start, but this wine is perfectly integrated already, yet is primed to improve over a quarter-century. A handsome wood aspect frames plum skin, black peppercorn and dried branches. A complex savory weave matches the dusky fruit, and as it opens, it gets more sappy to the taste and more rewarding.” -Jon Bonne Read article at SFGate.comArticle (3 December 2012)
International Wine Report: “The 2009 Ridge Monte Bello is a world-class wine of epic proportions. It delivers top quality pure black fruits, cassis, pencil shavings, graphite, charcoal, coffee and even fresh floral. This wine has it all, balance, amazing precision and focus, depth, along with a seamless structure and an ultra-long, tight gripping finish. While still is it’s infancy, it is hard to find many flaws in the wine right now. It’s not everyday you come across a wine of this caliber, and while you can get away with approaching this now, it should also continue to evolve for a quarter century for those willing to wait. The composition consists of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot. (Best 2013-2032).” (Rated: 97+) (September 2012)
Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: “Opaque ruby. Assertive redcurrant, cherry and pipe tobacco aromas, with suave floral and mineral notes gaining strength with air. Fresh and precise, offering deeply concentrated red berry and bitter cherry flavors, a supple texture and slow-building sweetness. Becomes more exotically floral with air, finishing sappy and long, with excellent clarity and gentle tannic grip. An extremely promising young Monte Bello that smoothly melds power and vivacity.” (Rated: 96) (November-December 2012)
Wine Spectator: “Taut and structured, with cedar-laced currant, dark berry and dried berry notes joining a mix of minerally fresh earth and tobacco flavors, offering a wide range of tight-knit fruit overall. Firmly tannic on the finish, yet the ripe purity pushes through. True to form Monte Bello in a classic style. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Best from 2014 through 2030.” -James Laube (Rated: 95) (15 November 2012)
Average Rating: 93.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 127
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