2012 Monte Bello Chardonnay

2012 Monte Bello Chardonnay

Wine Information

100% Chardonnay




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Winemaker Tasting Notes

Pale, sun-bleached straw. Apricot, pear, pineapple, wet stone, dried fig. Green plum and apricot on entry; citrus blossom, lively acid, oily texture; lingering crushed-rock mineral finish.

Vintage Notes

Warm weather in late February gave an early start to a long, dry growing season. In barrel, the wines finished malolactic by June, but did not ferment dry until September. We then selected wines from the Lower Stressed and Middle Green parcels, and returned them—with their lees—to four-year-old barrels for an additional seven months. Bottled without filtration, this intense chardonnay reflects its limestone soils, and the vines’ water stress. It will continue to develop over the next twelve to fifteen years. EB (1/14)


In 1949 William Short, retired theologian and then-owner of the Ridge “middle” vineyard (2070′ – 2390′), planted several acres of chardonnay, which provided the 1962 estate Monte Bello Chardonnay for the Ridge partners’ first vintage. From 1962 to 1984, limited amounts of chardonnay were produced each year under the Monte Bello designation. By 1985, younger, replanted vines had begun to supplant the older vines, whose yields had dropped to a quarter-ton per acre. (To distinguish this wine from the Monte Bello, we called it Santa Cruz Mountains.) Fifteen years later, in 1999, the young vines had matured; we were able to select several exceptional parcels for a Monte Bello, a practice that continues to the present.

Growing Season

Rainfall: 18 inches (2/3rds of average)

Bloom: Mid April

Weather: Moderate summer and fall.


Harvest Dates: September 25 – October 6 (late for chardonnay)

Grapes: Average Brix 24.0 degrees

Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary and secondary.

Selection: 100% Monte Bello vineyard chardonnay parcels.

Barrels: 90% air-dried american oak and 10% french oak barrels (14% new, 31% one to two years, 55% three and four years old.

Aging: Seventeen months in barrel

Sustainably farmed, hand harvested, estate-grown Monte Bello grapes; whole cluster pressed; fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel fermentation and aging; minimum effective sulfur for this wine (30 ppm at the press, 121 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.

Ingredients: Hand harvested, sustainably grown estate grapes; indigenous yeasts; naturally occurring malolactic bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective SO2.


The Wine Advocate (October 2015): 94+ Points “The 2012 Chardonnay Monte Bello is a beauty. Ripe, concentrated and still fresh, with lots of golden fruits, toasty oak, crème brulee and minerality, it’s medium to full-bodied, concentrated and layered, with a classy, balanced fruit and integrated acidity. Full, complete, concentrated and balanced, it will have a decade or more of longevity. This was a terrific set of wines from Ridge. The 2012 Bordeaux releases all have brilliant purity of fruit, with surprising freshness and focus. They’ll need short term cellaring to be approachable, especially the Monte Bello. The 2013s are similar in style to the 2012s, with tight, fresh profiles and solid tannic grip.” – Jeb Dunnuck

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 92.2

No. of Tasting Notes: 52

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Food Pairings

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