2016 Monte Bello Chardonnay

2016 Monte Bello Chardonnay

Wine Information

100% Chardonnay – Organically Grown

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96+ Points – Greg Sherwood, MW
95 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
93-95 Points – William Kelly, Wine Advocate
94 PointsWine Spectator
94 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Pale gold color. Pear, dried fig, citrus blossom, wet stone, and toasted brioche. Intense mountain fruit entry, limestone, full bodied, and firm acidity; lengthy, complex finish. EB (12/18)

Vintage Notes

Abundant winter rains eased the effects of this year’s drought. Storms in May disrupted bloom, reducing yields by a third. The terraces, planted in 1993, were picked mid- September and the wine was selected as the 2016 Monte Bello. This cool-climate mountain vineyard, with its underlying fractured limestone, provided firm acidity in a beautifully balanced wine. It will gain in complexity over the next ten 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.

Growing Season

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: 10-14 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.9˚
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished late November 2016 and secondary finished by June 2016.
Barrels: 86% air-dried american oak and 14% french oak barrels (14% one year, 38% two years, 48% five years old.)
Aging: Eighteen months in barrel

Organically 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 (25 ppm at the press, 45 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.


A Fine Wine Safari: 96+ Points “Deadly serious expression of Chardonnay from this famed vineyard. Nose is ultra complex and mineral with smokey yellow citrus fruits, hints of struck match reduction and a alluring yellow grapefruit and pear purée note. The palate shows such wonderful balance and harmony, piercing white citrus pastille fruit intensity, crushed limestone minerality and pithy lemon grass spice leading to the most memorable, seductive fresh finish punctuated with delicious saline nuances. Another profound Burgundian Chardonnay expression from Ridge Vineyards that is unquestionably a drop dead gorgeous wine to rival any Grand Cru white from the Cote d’Or.” – Greg Sherwood, MW (June 2019)

Vinous Media: 95 Points “The 2016 Chardonnay Monte Bello is a powerful wine. Rich, deep and layered, the 2016 offers a striking mélange of varietal fruit and structure. Tangerine, mint, butter and toasty notes all develop in the glass. More than anything, though, the 2016 is a wine of texture and resonance. I loved it.” – Antonio Galloni (October 2019)

Wine Spectator: 94 Points “Powerful and rich-tasting, with well-structured baked pear, apple and white currant flavors, filled with intense smoky and oak accents. Flinty notes emerge on the vibrant finish.” – KM (June 2019)

The Wine Advocate: 94 Points “Open and giving on the nose with aromas of lemon pith, saline, crushed shell, toasted almonds, honey toast, quince and white peaches plus dried hay and floral nuances. It’s medium-bodied and uber minerally in the mouth, fleshing out fan-like to pure stone fruits, lifted by seamless freshness and finishing very long and floral-tinged.” – Erin Brooks (February 2020)

The Wine Advocate: 93-95 Points “Tasted from barrel, the soon-to-be-bottled 2016 Chardonnay Monte Bello is very promising indeed, offering up aromas of fresh peach, green orchard fruit, nutmeg and warm spices, as well as a touch of mint on the upper register. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, ample and succulent, with a deep, juicy core, lovely cut and stony grip and a long finish.” – William Kelley (May 2018)

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 94.2

No. of Tasting Notes: 60

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Food Pairings

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