75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
94 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate
94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
94 Points – Anthony Dias Blue, Blue Lifestyle
93 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
93 Points – Wine & Spirits
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 roasted coffee, and toasted oak aftertaste. Complex, long, sensuous finish. EB (1/20)
Drought-breaking winter storms replenished ground-water reserves at Monte Bello. Warm summer weather ripened grapes for an October harvest. Significant tannins showed in the earliest fermentations so we reduced pumpovers to avoid over-extraction. For this wine we blended the lots showing softer tannins and great fruit intensity. Though approachable now, it will continue to develop greater complexity over the next ten 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: 44.2 inches (above normal)
Weather: A wet winter provided well-above normal rainfall. A cool spring, affected fruit set but warm spells in summer pushed vines along. Labor Day heat wave ripened the grapes nicely.
Harvest Dates: 10 October
Grapes: Average Brix 26.7˚
TA: 7.51 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, and sorted; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at eight days. Natural malolactic initiated in tank, finished in barrel with additional 13 weeks of lees contact.
Selection: Twenty of twenty estate parcels.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels; (48% new, 31% one year-old, 21% two years-old).
Aging: Twenty months in barrel
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, 109 ppm during aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
The Wine Advocate: 94 Points “The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Monte Bello Vineyard is blended with 21% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. The nose is still tightly wound, taking plenty of air to reveal deep aromas of cassis, tobacco, licorice and coffee with top notes of violet and graphite. The palate is full-bodied and powerful, with a firm grain and concentrated fruits, and it finishes very long, layered and uplifted. This will require more time in bottle than the Klein Cabernet.” -Erin Brooks (February 2021)
Vinous Media: 94 Points “Ridge’s 2017 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a fabulous choice for readers who want a Monte Bello fix now, without having to wait. Supple, radiant and silky, with tremendous balance, the 2017 is just flat-out delicious and utterly irresistible. Dark red cherry/plum fruit, mocha, licorice, sweet tobacco and a kick of American oak build as this sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon shows its allure. The 2017 is an outrageously beautiful wine. Don’t miss it.” -Antonio Galloni (September 2020)
Blue Lifestyle: 94 Points “Too often overshadowed by its celebrated running mate [Monte Bello], this exquisite wine sourced from the Monte Bello vineyard, is silky and lush with lovely structure, tangy style and complexity; sock it away for a few years and be blown away” – Anthony Dias Blue (April 2020)
JebDunnuck.com: 93 Points “The 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate showed beautifully, with gorgeous notes of cassis, crushed violets, graphite, and lead pencil all emerging from the glass. Showing plenty of richness and depth, medium to full body, good acidity, and plenty of firm tannins, it’s not a blockbuster, but it has the balance and class to evolve for 15 years or more. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, and the rest Petit Verdot.” – Jeb Dunnuck (May 2020)
Wine & Spirits: 93 Points “The limestone seabed on which this cabernet grows produces Monte Bello as well as this Estate bottling, a selection of the parcels that provide a more accessible wine early on. Those parcels rise up the mountainside in Cupertino, ranging from 1,300 to 2,700 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Crafted by Eric Baugher, the 2017 is an austere yet concentrated wine with mellow intensity, its organically farmed fruit offering fresh black currant and anise savor, its tannins capturing the mineral inflection and tension that limestone soils can give. Rather than effusive enthusiasm, it’s a wine of coastal harmony. Zen cabernet.” -J.G. (October 2020 issue)
Connoisseurs’ Guide: 91 Points “Medium in volume and high in complexity, this easy-to-like bottling combines inviting notes of cassis with hints of olive and root beer-like richness in its firt nose and entry to the palate. On second glance, there are hints of black cherries and a quiet whiff of spice to be had, and those elements hold into the polished, lightly tannic finish. The wine is sure to age on balance alone, and its ease on the palate give it current drinkability as well.” (August 2020)
Blue Lifestyle: 94 Points “Too often overshadowed by its celebrated running mate [Monte Bello], this exquisite wine sourced from the Monte Bello vineyard, is silky and lush with lovely structure, tangy style and complexity; sock it away for a few years and be blown away.” – Anthony Dias Blue (April 2020)
Average Rating: 91.3
No. of Tasting Notes: 33
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