95 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
95 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
94 Points – William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
92 Points – Wine Spectator
Santa Cruz Mountains
Striking pale gold. Fresh apricot and pear, citrus blossom, crème brûlée, dried fig, quince. Sweet-tart entry; grapefruit, wet stone, ginger root. Lively acid, elegant texture, outstandingly long finish. EB (1/16)
Two major December storms delivered almost all the year’s rainfall. The drought resumed; budbreak came in mid-February, harvest in early September. After natural fermentation in barrel, malolactics began in January, and finished by mid- May. Vintage quality was excellent: we chose nearly half the parcels for this wine. Combined, they aged on their lees, which settled for bottling without filtration. This classic Monte Bello shows distinct minerality and firm acid; it will develop fully over the next fifteen years.
In the late 1940’s William Short, retired theologian and then-owner of the Ridge Torre 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, four to eight barrels 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 and we changed the designation to Santa Cruz Mountains. By 1999, the young vines had matured; we were able to select in most years several exceptional parcels for a Monte Bello chardonnay, a practice that continues to this day.
Rainfall: 20.5 inches (below average)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Moderate summer and fall
Harvest Dates: 8 – 15 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.8˚
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished February 2014 and secondary finished by May 2014.
Selection: 100% Monte Bello vineyard chardonnay parcels.
Barrels: 88% air-dried american oak and 12% french oak barrels (6% new, 33% one to two years, 61% three to six 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 (25 ppm at the press, 154 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine Spectator (April 2017): 92 Points. – “Well-sculpted and fresh-tasting, with a firm structure to the complex array of pear, fig and tropical fruit flavors. Creamy, with a long, lush finish that offers appealing notes of cumin. Drink now through 2021. – KM”
The Wine Advocate (October 2016): 95 Points. “A true gem, the 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello, which was barrel fermented and aged 17 months in mostly American oak, offers sensational notes of white peach, citrus blossom, mint, ginger and baking spices. It’s a big, rich wine, yet it never puts a foot wrong, is impeccably balanced and stays fresh, pure and focused. Drink it anytime over the coming decade or more.” – Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous Media (July 2016): 95 Points. “The 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello is exceptional. Rich, layered and creamy, the 2013 exudes depth. Readers will have to wait at least a few years before the 2013 hits its stride, but all the elements are in the right place. Yellow orchard fruit, mint, sweet spices and flowers are all fused together in an exceptional, racy Chardonnay loaded with class and personality. Today, the 2013 is a total knock-out. The 2,000 case production for the Monte Bello Chardonnay is a record high for Ridge.” -Antonio Galloni
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 94 Points. “The 2013 Chardonnay Monte Bello is still very youthful, wafting from the glass with aromas of green pear, white currants, pastry cream and blanched almonds that has already digested most of its new oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, deep and very concentrated, with almost chewy levels of extract and considerable power, underpinned by succulent acids and concluding with a grippy, chalky finish. One senses the concentration of the 2013 more after a few years of bottle age than one did a few years ago, and it’s incredibly clear that this will be a long haul vintage of Monte Bello Chardonnay.” – William Kelley
Average Rating: 92.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 86
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