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95 Points – William Kelley, The Wine Advocate
94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
94 Points – Wine Spectator
Santa Cruz Mountains
Translucent pale gold color. Pear, fig, and yellow plum fruits, crushed rock-flintiness, and white flowers. Showing citrus fruit on entry, lightly toasted oak, dried fig, biscotti, honeysuckle, and a rich texture. Finishes with lively acidity. EB (1/17)
In this third drought year, light spring rains helped the vines through a hot, dry summer. Full flavor was reached in late August, and we harvested early. Barrel fermented in our cool underground cellar, the wines finished by June. Four lots showed classic Monte Bello character; they were assembled and returned to the oldest barrels for continued aging. This fresh, lively wine will be enjoyable over the next nine to twelve 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: 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: 26 August – 4 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.6˚
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished December 2014 and secondary finished by April 2015.
Selection: 100% Monte Bello vineyard chardonnay parcels.
Barrels: 92% air-dried american oak and 8% french oak barrels (8% new, 46% one to two years, 46% three to six years old.)
Aging: Nineteen 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, 74 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
The Wine Advocate (May 2018): 95 Points. “One of the finest recent renditions of this great cuvée, the 2014 Chardonnay Monte Bello is a beautiful wine that opens in the glass with notes of white peach, citrus oil, green figs and white flowers, complemented by hints of nutmeg and spice from its time in barrel on the lees. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, satiny and textural, with a deep core, bright acids and a long, chalky finish. The 2014 stands out for its purity and elegance. It attained 14.2% natural alcohol and spent 19 months in barrels, only 8% of which were new.” – William Kelley
Vinous Media (August 2017): 94 Points. “A wine of total elegance and finesse, the 2014 Chardonnay Monte Bello stands out for its poise and harmony. In 2014, the vines were at the height of their stress from the drought, and yet the wine doesn’t really show it. Ample, broad and creamy, the 2014 has it all. I would prefer to give the 2014 at least a few years in bottle to develop more aromatic nuance. Tangerine, lemon confit and almond notes grace the exquisite, oily finish.” – Antonio Galloni
Wine Spectator: (April 12, 2017 Insider) 94 Points. – “Rich and crystalline, featuring concentrated apple, pear and fig flavors, supported by ample acidity. Pure and minerally midpalate, with a powerful finish that offers finely textured smoky and buttery accents. Drink now through 2022.” – KM
Average Rating: 92.7
No. of Tasting Notes: 31
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