92 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
92 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate
Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark ruby color. Pungent, ripe mountain bramble, chaparral, toasted oak, and exotic spices. Rich cherry fruit entry, firm acid, savory dried herbs, and wonderful textural tannins. Great finesse and length in its finish. EB (2/19)
Monte Bello vineyard has eight merlot parcels located at different elevations. The lower parcels, chosen for this wine, experience greater diurnal temperature variation throughout the growing season. This slows ripening while maintaining firm acid in the grapes. The wine displays the quality and character of grapes grown on limestone soil. Ideal weather produced an intense merlot that will be enjoyable over the next eight to ten years.
Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the Point, the highest, most exposed block on the Monte Bello vineyard at an elevation of 2600’. Originally, we wanted to see if the varietal could match the quality of, and be included in, the Monte Bello. Once satisfied that it could, we planted more merlot over the years as space and resources allowed. From 1975 on, it has been a part of the Monte Bello whenever assemblage tastings so indicated. As the younger plantings matured, it became apparent that not only did merlot complement the Monte Bello, but also had the structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling.
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 Dates: 21 September – 10 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.8˚
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at seven days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried american oak barrels; 100% new.
Aging: Eighteen months in barrel
Sustainably farmed, hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; 0.3 mg/L calcium carbonate added to two of five lots; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially, 59 ppm over the course of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
The Wine Advocate: 92 Points “The 2016 Merlot Estate Monte Bello Vineyard is medium ruby with a nose of chocolate box, cedar and toasted coconut with warm black plum, redcurrant, chocolate-covered cherries, dried herbs and blackcurrant bud plus a strong mineral vein of graphite, pipe tobacco and iron. Medium to full-bodied, it’s rounded and silky in the mouth, still with a firm frame of chalky-textured tannins, great freshness and a long finish.” – Erin Brooks (February 2020)
Vinous Media: 92 Points “The 2016 Merlot Estate is a gorgeous, classically-built wine that captures so much of what makes Ridge so unique. Savory herb, leather, tobacco, spice and menthol add intrigue to this mid-weight, understated yet beautifully persistent Merlot. Hints of sage, sweet tobacco, leather and mint give the Merlot a distinctive savory feel. The 2016 is a bit a austere in the early going, but time in bottle will help.” – Antonio Galloni (October 2019)
Average Rating: 90.0
No. of Tasting Notes: 49
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