77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
94+ Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
93 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate
Santa Cruz Mountains
Saturated purple in color. Aromas of cassis, blueberry, cola, licorice, and sweet oak. Ripe blackberry fruit entry, full bodied, rich textures, exotic spice and toasted oak. Complex, long, sensuous finish. EB (1/19)
A mild winter resulted in early bud-break, but the return to cool weather in spring slowed vine growth. Summer warmth was offset by unseasonably cold nights and fog, resulting in greater acidity and firm tannins. Shortened fermentations helped balance the tannin structure. This wine combined lots with appealing fruit and elegance. Enjoyable now, this excellent vintage will reach full maturity within 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 caber¬net 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 replant¬ed 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: 21.9 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Early June
Weather: A very wet December and January helped ease the drought. Cool weather in April reduced our lower elevation crops a bit. Warm spells in late June and late July helped push the vines along. Harvest started mid-September and the last cabernet lots came in during the second week of October.
Harvest Dates: 10 September – 6 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.9˚
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, and sorted; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at five days. Natural malolactic initiated in tank, finished in barrel with additional 12 weeks of lees contact.
Selection: Nineteen of twenty estate parcels.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels (35% new, 20% one year old, and 45% two years old)
Aging: Seventeen 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; minimum effective sulfur (35ppm at crush, 74 ppm during aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
JebDunnuck.com: 94+ Points “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate comes from the Santa Cruz Mountain estate, and it follows its big brother Monte Bello’s style with a terrific sense of elegance paired with richness. Lots of crème de cassis, crushed violets, vanilla, tobacco leaf, and cedar notes flow to a medium to full-bodied, beautifully concentrated, layered Cabernet Sauvignon that has terrific purity, building tannins, and a great finish. It offers pleasure today yet won’t hit prime time for another 5-7 years, and it’s going to evolve for 15-20 years (probably longer).” – Jeb Dunnuck (June 2019)
Vinous Media: 94 Points “Once again an overachiever, Ridge’s 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is regal. Aromatically intense and deep on the palate, the 2016 proves to be utterly captivating from the very first taste. Dark fruit, chocolate, licorice, dried flowers, leather and menthol infuse the 2016 with remarkable complexity. In 2016, the last year of the drought cycle Ridge made one of the very best editions of this wine. Just as remarkably, the 2016 is incredibly harmonious for such a young wine.” – Antonio Galloni (October 2019)
The Wine Advocate: 93 Points “Medium to deep ruby color with scents of blackcurrant, chocolate-covered cherries, cedar, cigar box, red fruit sparks, dried flowers and blackcurrant bud plus notions of graphite and iron. Medium to full-bodied, it offers wonderfully lush fruits and firmly integrated, classically rustic tannins, seamless freshness and a long, savory finish.” – Erin Brooks (February 2020)
Decanter Magazine (July 2019 Issue): Steven Spurrier’s Wines of the Month “Ridge Vineyards in California and visionary winemaker Paul Draper (Decanter Hall of Fame Award 2000 winner) need no introduction, and neither does the famed Monte Bello vineyard – first planted in 1886 but left abandoned by the early 1940s to be replanted a little later, the Cabernet Sauvignon vines now more than 65 years old. Research and tasting in the new millennium showed that certain blocks consistently produced a more accessible wine that developed Monte Bello’s full complexity earlier, and from 2008 these were combined under the Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Cabernet label, stressing the principal variety and the Monte Bello estate vineyard as its source. The 2016 vintage of this ‘baby Monte Bello’ is a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc from the more vigorous, lower slopes of the mountain vineyard. It reveals a really lovely fragrance of red and black fruit on the nose that continues on the palate – supple, juicy yet still reserved, the wine is all there waiting to fully open up from 2020, with a decade in front of it. Ageing for 17 months in air-dried American oak, only 35% new, has enhanced the natural fruit, while minimum filtration preserves the wine in the bottle.” – Steven Spurrier
Wine & Spirits: 91 Points “A sumptuous sibling to Monte Bello, Ridge’s top selection from its parcels in the hills above Cupertino, this captures the acidity of the limestone soils in the bright edges of its fruit. A blend of cabernet sauvignon (77 percent) and merlot (19 percent) with small amounts of petit verdot and franc, this has the juiciness of cherries and plums at peak ripeness, the fragile skins adding their own silken richness to the texture of the fruit.” – J.G. (October 2019)
California Grapevine: 91 Points “Medium-dark ruby; fragrant, deep, spicy, cedary, dark cherry and blackberry fruit aroma with hints of dried herbs, green olive, vanilla, and tobacco leaf; full body; tight, herbal, cedary, dark cherry and blackberry flavors that are well balanced and firmly structured to support a good three to five more years of bottle aging; full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Very highly recommended.” – Nick Ponomareff (May 2019)
Connoisseurs’ Guide: 90 Points “As usual not a big and bombastic wine but one of very fine focus, the latest of Ridge’s Estate Cabernets is a weighty, well-structured working that delivers wide-ranging aromas and flavors of cassis and black cherries accented with elements of toasted herbs, loam and a tailored touch of oak in a youthfully tannic package that, while not rough and unruly, clearly calls for additional age. It backs away from superfluous ripeness and opts instead for varietal clarity and, in doing so, fits the Ridge Vineyards model to a ‘tee.'” (August 2019)
Average Rating: 91.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 123
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