80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot
100 Points – William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
100 Points – Decanter Magazine
99 Points – International Wine Report
98+ Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
97 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, The Wine Advocate
Santa Cruz Mountains
Opaque ruby color. Ripe mountain briar and cassis fruits; licorice, crushed limestone, sweet toasted oak, violets. Intense blackberry fruit on entry; cola, exotic oak spice. Well-defined full body, rich structure, firm acid, wet stone mineral. Long, intense finish. EB (1/16)
By late summer, a second drought year had pushed the vines to their limit with water stress. The resulting small berries reduced the crop, which ripened three weeks earlier than any in our fifty-year history. Fermented as whole berries, and pressed at eight days, the wines were transferred to barrel for natural malolactic. Nineteen of twenty-six lots—including only one of merlot—were selected for the 2013. This superb vintage shows Monte Bello’s mineral character and firm acidity. Complex secondary qualities will develop within fifteen years, and the wine will age beautifully for twenty more. EB (3/15)
In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the first Monte Bello vineyards were planted, 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) and subsequent vintages until 1974 when younger blocks replanted in the 1960’s were considered for inclusion. Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.
Rainfall: 20.5 inches (below average)
Weather: Moderate summer and fall
Harvest Dates: 7 September – 8 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.8˚
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Automated berry sorting followed by hand sorting. Fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at eight days. Natural malolactic.
Selection: Nineteen of twenty-six Monte Bello parcels
Barrels: 100% new air-dried american oak, 98% american oak, 2% french oak
Aging: Sixteen months in barrel
Monte Bello Parcels: 79.8 tons from 65.4 acres. Sustainably farmed, hand harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.37 g/L calcium carbonate to moderate the high natural acidity in ten of the twenty-six parcels; 1.2% water addition to six of twenty-six lots during fermentation; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur 30 ppm at crush, 104 ppm during aging; pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 100 Points. “The 2013 Monte Bello is a very special vintage for this great wine. Amazingly, it has yet to shut down, unfurling in the glass to reveal a bouquet of black raspberries, cassis, rich espresso roast, cigar wrapper, subtle black truffle and burning embers that has already integrated its 100% new oak remarkably completely. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, powerful and multidimensional, with a lavishly textural attack that segues into a stunningly layered, richly structured mid-palate endowed with incredible depth and concentration underpinned by succulent acids. The finish is long, vibrant and beautifully delineated. The 2013 is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, and it attained 13.6% natural alcohol. Analytically, this ranks as one of the most tannic vintages of Monte Bello ever produced, but the tannins are of such high quality and cloaked in such a wealth of fruit that Ridge forwent their habitual egg white fining this year—beginning a trend that has continued since. This profound Monte Bello will begin to blossom as it reaches age ten and should prove practically immortal.” – William Kelley
Decanter (May 2016): 100 Points. A Monte Bello for the ages, the 2013’s brooding bouquet unfolds to reveal notes of black raspberry, juicy blackcurrant, burning embers and deep-pitched, rich soil tones. On the palate the wine is simply stunning, with a beautifully three-dimensional, refined tannic chassis. Analytically, this is the most tannic Monte Bello of the millenium, but that structure is clothed with a wealth of fruit—so much so that Ridge forwent their habitual egg white fining this year. Watch this profound wine begin to blossom after a decade in the cellar.
Wine Spectator (June 2019): (95 Points). “The 2013 Monte Bello is starting, slowly, to unwind. It has plush tannins pulling a well of blackberry and plum fruit along, while smoldering toast and a latent mineral edge linger through the superlong finish.” – James Molesworth
The Wine Advocate (October 2016): 97 Points. Showing even better than last year, the 2013 Monte Bello is a tour de force, and a step up over the 2012. Full-bodied, layered, beautifully concentrated and seamless, it knocks it out of the park with its classic bouquet of plums, vanilla bean, cedary spice, scorched earth and cigar. Made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and the rest Merlot, aged in 98% new American oak (there’s 2% new French oak), I wish I had bottles in the cellar. It should be at its best from 2023-2043. – Jeb Dunnuck
California Grapevine, (October 2016): 92 Points – “Medium-dark purplish ruby; attractive, big, rich, ripe, fragrant, dark cherry and blackberry fruit. aroma with hints of dill and vanilla; full body; rich, plush, red and black fruit flavors with good depth, mineral and spicy notes, and bright acidity; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Nicely balanced and structured for bottle aging, though very appealing to taste now. Very highly recommended. 13.6% alcohol; 5,000 cases; blended with 8% PV, 7% CF, and 5% Merlot; released September 2016. (Group Score: 16.6, 1/2/0; My Score: 17 [92/100], fifth place)
Vinous Media (July 2016): 98+ Points. “The 2013 Monte Bello is utterly spellbinding in its beauty. Finely sculpted and chiseled, with super-expressive aromatics and searing tannins, the 2013 is shaping up to be a modern-day classic. The 2013 is remarkably pure and vibrant for such a big wine. It will be years before the 2013 is close to being ready to drink. Even so, it is magnificent today. Where will the 2013 end up? The future seems limitless for now. Quite simply, the 2013 is a must-have wine. In 2013, Monte Bello is very heavy in Cabernet Sauvignon, partly because Merlot suffered in the drought-like conditions. The 2013 has already begun to shut down in bottle. Readers need to be in for the long haul.” – Antonio Galloni
The Wine Advocate (October 2015): 95+ Points. Tasted out of bottle, the 2013 Monte Bello is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and just 5% of Merlot (Merlot struggled in 2013 due to the drought). Surprisingly, given the higher Cabernet content, it’s more voluptuous and layered than the ’12, and has awesome concentration and depth on the palate to go with classic creme de cassis, vanilla bean and violets. Reminding winemaker Eric Baugher of the 1985 (sorry, before my wine drinking time), I suspect this beautifully pure, elegant and seamless beauty will drink nicely in 3-4 years, and have upwards of three decades of overall longevity. – Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous Media (July 2015): 96+ Points. The 2013 Monte Bello is super-ripe, exotic and flashy. Dark blue and purplish stone fruits, sweet spices and licorice meld together as the 2013 opens up in the glass. There is plenty of supporting acidity and tannin, but the 2013 is likely to always remain flamboyant within the framework of Monte Bello. In 2013 the inversion layer moved around quite a bit, which resulted in warmer days and cooler nights than is the norm at Ridge, where diurnal shifts typically occur within a narrower range. The drought conditions and a blast of late season heat yielded tiny berries, a small crop and an unusually dark, concentrated Monte Bello that is going to require considerable patience. This is another Cabernet Sauvignon-heavy year, with less Merlot than is often the case. Ridge fans can look forward to Monte Bello Old Vines and Monte Bello Steep Terraces Cabernets that had not yet been bottled when I stopped by the winery this past June. Tasted from barrel, those two limited production wines are both shaping up to be magnificent. – Antonio Galloni
Wine Spectator (November 2016): 91 Points. Well-constructed, with firm tannins and acidity framed by a tight core of dusty blackberry and wild berry, showing cedary oak and woody touches. Slowly eases into a dusty black licorice and anise center. Best to let this aerate or cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Best from 2021 through 2031 – James Laube
Average Rating: 94.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 99
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