Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale gold. Tropical notes of ripe pineapple, fig, honeysuckle. Sweet entry; rich, oily texture. Full-bodied, with crisp acidity. Strong apple/pear fruit in an intense finish. EB (8/13)
A mild winter, early bud-break, and early- April bloom gave us an unusually large crop, which we thinned rigorously; warm summer weather pushed ripening for a September harvest. Whole-cluster pressed, the lots fermented in barrel, and were stirred every two weeks from January to April during natural malolactics. The wine was racked off its gross lees in June, tasted, and assembled. Ripe fruit is balanced by naturally high acidity in this appealing wine. It will be at its best over the next five to eight years.
Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and 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 then a half-ton per acre; the younger ones, planted in the ‘70s, provided the majority of grapes. These newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate so the wine was called “Santa Cruz Mountains.” The vines are long since included in the estate; with this vintage, the name becomes Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
Rainfall: 18 inches (below average)
Weather: Moderate summer and fall
Harvest Dates: 10 September – 13 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.5
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Seven of the ten Monte Bello vineyard chardonnay parcels
Barrels: 19% new, 11% one year old, 7% two year old, 63% three, four and five years old. 95% air-dried american oak, 5% french oak.
Aging: Nine months in barrel on the lees, and three additional months on the lees in four year old barrels to settle after assemblage.
Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown grapes; indigenous yeasts; naturally occurring malolactic bacteria; minimum effective SO2.
All estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes, hand harvested. Whole-cluster pressed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum effective sulfur (28 ppm initially to barrels, 76ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine Advocate (Issue 215, October 2014): “The beautiful, delicate but powerful 2012 Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard (100% Chardonnay) achieved 14.5% natural alcohol. It exhibits notes of white currants, quince, pineapple and white peach. Medium to full-bodied with good acidity and freshness, and the oak pushed to the background, this beauty can be enjoyed over the next 5-6 years.” (Rated: 92)
Vinous Media (July 2014): “The 2012 Chardonnay Estate is utterly impeccable. Lemon, white, flowers, spices, yellow stone fruits, smoke and slate open up nicely in the glass. Readers can look forward to at least a handful of years of fabulous drinking in this resonant, beautifully layered Chardonnay from Ridge. The Estate spent a total of 15 months in American oak, on the longer side by California standards.” -Antonio Galloni (Rated: 92)
Wine Spectator Insider (28 May 2014): “Rich and well-centered, with ripe apple, melon, cedary oak, spice and anise notes that are very complete and persistent. Drink now.”-James Laube (Rated: 91)
California Grapevine (Vol. 40, June 2014): “Medium-light golden yellow color; attractive, fragrant, moderately intense, baked apple and stone fruit aroma with tropical and mineral notes and a hint of vanilla; medium to medium-full body; fleshy, apple and white peach flavors with good balance and a pleasing mouthfeel; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended.”
(Group Score: 16.4 of 20 points, 2/3/1; My Score: 17 (91/100), second place)
Average Rating: 89.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 137
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