81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc
94 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
92 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Santa Cruz Mountains
Opaque purple in color. Aromas of cassis, anise, and clove spice from barrel aging. Blackberry fruit on entry, fine grain tannins, black olive, and forest floor. A long finish. EB (1/18)
A dry, warm, winter brought an early start to the growing season but late spring storms severely cut yields. Warm days and nights through summer ripened the grapes for a September harvest. Pump-overs, during fermentation, were reduced to maintain balanced tannins. The most sensuous lots were selected during the assemblage tasting in January. The intense fruit of this fine vintage will support further development over the next fifteen 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: 24.4 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: Wet December & driest January on record; spring rains were below normal with warm temperatures. End of spring was cool with ocean fog and drizzle adding 3+ inches of rain allowing the vines to grow nicely. Moderate summer resulted in early ripening and we began picking in early September.
Harvest Dates: 9 September – 9 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.2˚
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 18 weeks of lees contact.
Selection: Seventeen of twenty estate parcels.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels; (45% new, 17% one year old, 38% two and three years old).
Aging: Eighteen 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; 0.18g/L calcium carbonate to moderate high natural acidity in four of twenty distinct parcels; minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 59 ppm during aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
JebDunnuck.com (June 2018): 94 Points. “Coming all from the estate Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate checks in as a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. I suspect it’s as good as many vintages of Monte Bello in the past and offers a gorgeous perfume of vanilla-tinged blackberries, blueberries, incense, cedar pencil, and bay leaf. Deep, medium to full-bodied, incredibly polished and perfectly balanced, with ultra-fine tannin, it’s a knockout bottle of Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon that will keep for two decades and be drinkable for all of it.” – Jeb Dunnuck
Palate Press (Dec 2018): 93 Points “Aromas of black currant, blackberries, cedar and tobacco leaf flow from the glass. Red fruit makes an appearance on the palate, raspberries adding to black plumbs and black currant. It is elegant and smooth, with hints of clove and spices. Drink with Kansas City Strip and bleu cheese mash. Highly Recommended.” – David Honig
Vinous Media (Aug 2018): 92 Points “Ridge’s 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is incredibly refined and polished. In some vintages the Estate Cabernet needs time in bottle to be at its best. That is not the case with the 2015, which is sumptuous, open-knit and positively stunning in its beauty. Stylistically, the 2015 is decidedly on the riper, more sumptuous side of things for Ridge, and yet all the elements are impeccably balanced throughout. Soft tannins add to the wine’s considerable appeal.” – Antonio Galloni
Vinography (May 2018) “Very dark garnet in the glass, this wine smells of cherry, tobacco and a touch of coconut. In the mouth, a fine grained gauze of tannins drapes over flavors of cherry, sour cherry and a touch of sweet whiskey barrel. Wonderfully bright thanks to excellent acidity, and perfectly deserving of its “mini Monte Bello” moniker. Built for the long haul, but delicious today. A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. 13.5% alcohol. Score: between 9 and 9.5.”
California Grapevine (Vol. 44, June 2018) “Medium-dark ruby; attractive, fragrant, spicy, cedary, dark cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with hints of cassis, dill, green olive, and tobacco; full body; tight, herbal, dark cherry and blackberry fruit flavors with herbal and mineral notes; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Shows good potential though needs a good three to five more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.” 13.5% alcohol; 3,000 cases; blended with 16% Merlot, 2% PV, and 1% CF; released April 2018. (Group Score: 16.4, 1/0/1; My Score: 17 [91/100], sixth place)
Average Rating: 91.1
No. of Tasting Notes: 75
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