75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc
93 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
91 Points – Wine Spectator
Santa Cruz Mountains
Deep purple color. Aromas of blackcurrant, cherries, clove spice, toasted oak, and cocoa. Ripe bramble fruit entry, medium-full body, supple tannins, and sweet oak; firm acid persists in a long finish. EB (1/17)
Early harvest at Monte Bello had, for the first time ever, all varietals ripen in one month—September. We reduced whole berry fermentation time to accommodate the fast-paced harvest, yet extraction of color and tannin was abundant. By taste, the most approachable lots were selected at assemblage. This superb vintage aged in american oak, and was bottled at twenty-two months, once tannins had softened. It will show well over the next ten years.
In 1886 the first blocks of the Monte Bello vineyard were planted and construction on the winery begun. The first vintage was the 1892. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; in the late forties a few blocks were replanted. Those cabernet vines—now over sixty-five years old—produced the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until 1974. By then other abandoned blocks had been replanted and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. A number of those consistently produced a more accessible wine that developed its full complexity earlier and these were combined as the “Santa Cruz Mountains.” With the 2008 vintage the name of this stylistically distinct wine became the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, stressing the principal varietal and the Monte Bello estate vineyard as its source.
Rainfall: 11.8 inches (40% of normal)
Weather: Very dry December & January; most of the rain fell February through April. Overall above average temperatures at Monte Bello.
Harvest Dates: 2- 24 September
Grapes: Average brix 24.6˚
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, and sorted ; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at six days. Natural malolactic initiated in tank, finished in barrel with additional 16 weeks of lees contact.
Selection: Fifteen of twenty estate parcels.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels; (70% new, 30% two and three years old).
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel
Sustainably farmed, hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.25g/L calcium carbonate to moderate high natural acidity in four of twenty distinct parcels; 1.7% water addition to twelve of the twenty lots; minimum effective sulfur (25ppm at crush, 120 ppm during aging); a fining of 5 fresh, egg whites per barrel for the press wine; pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Vinous Media (August 2017): 93 Points. “One of the many highlights in this range, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is terrific. The effects of the drought and resulting heat stress come through in the wine’s structural feel and bold, incisive flavors. Even with all of its intensity, the 2014 has a certain silkiness in its tannins that makes it approachable today. Of course, the 2014 will be even better in another few years, but opening a bottle on the early side is not a crime. The 2014 spent 27 months in French oak. Readers who are looking for a more affordable alternative to Ridge’s iconic Monte Bello should consider the 2014 Estate. Look for the Estate to be a real overachiever in 2014 as well as one of the best – possibly the best – California Cabernet in its price range.” – Antonio Galloni
Wine Spectator: (July 12, 2017 Insider) 91 Points. – “Made in a style that demands patience and cellaring, this is taut, firm, dense and sturdy. Not showing much now, but like good Bordeaux, this is built to age. Drink 2020 through 2034.” – JL
California Grapevine (July 2017): “Medium-dark ruby; attractive, deep, intense, cedary, dark cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with hints of cassis, dill, and green olive; full body; deep, rich, ripe, textured, earthy, dark cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with notes of cola, mineral, and dried herbs; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Could use a good three to five more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended. 13.7% alcohol; 6,000 cases; blended with 14% Merlot, 6% PV, and 5% CF; released April 2017.” (Group Score: 16.4, 0/1/1; My Score: 17 [92/100], third place)
Average Rating: 91.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 198
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