94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
94 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
92 Points – Erin Brooks, The Wine Advocate
92 Points – Wine Spectator
Santa Cruz Mountains
Sun-bleached straw color. Pineapple, melon, honeysuckle, and citrus. Appealing fruit entry, refreshing acidity, with an elegant texture. Long, smooth finish. EB (12/18)
A cold winter delayed bud-break. Late spring rain disrupted bloom, reducing yields by a quarter. Summer was warm at times, but mostly foggy and cool. This slowed ripening which produced greater flavor and firmer acidity. We picked nine parcels in early September, and barrel fermented each separately. The most elegant, that showed the finest fruit, were selected for this superb chardonnay. It can be enjoyed now.
Ridge produced its first chardonnay in 1962 from fully-mature vines planted in the late 1940s on the Monte Bello estate vineyard. Production never exceeded ten barrels, and Monte Bello chardonnay was sold principally at the winery. Several great vintages, among them the 1973, ‘74, ‘79, and ‘84, showed that our cool climate and fractured limestone sub-soils were well suited to the varietal. By 1985, the old vines were producing less then a half-ton per acre and were taken out. The younger vines, planted in the ‘70s, provide the majority of grapes today. Initially these newer plantings were on the “lower” vineyard— not yet farmed as part of the Monte Bello estate—so the wine was called “Santa Cruz Mountains” and these vines have long since been included. Since 2009 the wine has been designated Ridge Estate Chardonnay. In years when differences among lots are sufficient to warrant a separate bottling, we make a limited amount of Monte Bello Chardonnay as well.
Rainfall: 44.2 inches (above normal)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: A wet winter gave Monte Bello over 44” of rain, well above normal. A cool spring, which effected sets and warm spells in summer pushed vines along. The Labor Day heat wave ripened the grapes nicely. Harvest started early September and finished quickly.
Harvest Dates: 30 August – 13 September
Grapes: Average Brix 22.9˚
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Nine of the twelve Estate Chardonnay parcels.
Barrels: 93% air-dried american oak, 7% french oak; 10% new, 40% one and two years old, 24% three and four years old and 26% five to nine years old.
Aging: Fourteen months in barrel
Sustainably farmed, hand-harvested estate-grown Monte Bello vineyard grapes; whole-cluster pressed; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur for this wine (25 ppm initially to barrels, 62 ppm over the course of aging). In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Vinous Media: 94 Points “The 2017 Chardonnay Estate is soft, silky and exceptionally polished. White flowers, mint, orchard fruit, lemon confit and white pepper give the 2017 striking aromatic top notes that add nuance to the delicate, beautifully layered fruit. This understated Chardonnay is all class. The Estate represents 85% of Ridge’s production in 2017, while the remaining 15% will be bottled as Monte Bello.” – Antonio Galloni (October 2019)
JebDunnuck.com: 94 Points “The 2017 Chardonnay Estate has a Burgundian reductive quality as well as first-rate notes of caramelized orchard fruits, crushed rock, and subtle toasty, nutty notes. Rich, medium to full-bodied, with bright acidity, it has beautiful mid-palate depth, and well as the class and structure to keep for 15+ years. This is beautifully done.” – Jeb Dunnuck (June 2019)
The Wine Advocate: 92 Points “The 2017 Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard has a minerally nose with crushed shell and saline plus toast, spring blossoms, white peaches, hay and nutty accents. Medium-bodied, it has a pure core of stone fruits with earthy nuances, a great line of minerality, juicy freshness and a long, nuanced finish.” – Erin Brooks (February 2020)
Wine Spectator: 92 Points “A big, rich and showy white, filled with spicy notes to the ripe apple, pear and wild herb flavors. Minerally and buttery accents emerge on the contoured finish. Drink Now through 2024” – K.M. (May 2019)
The Fine Wine Review: 92 Points “This is a beautiful Chardonnay and the best young one I can recall from Ridge. The wine is complex in the nose with lemon blossoms, almonds, and vanilla. It is medium-full and round on the palate with depth and outstanding length. The wine is delicious now, and based on past history of Ridge Chardonnays, it should be able to take substantial aging. 14.1% stated alcohol.” – Claude Kolm (April 2019)
California Grapevine: 91 Points “Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, melon, green apple, and white peach aroma with hints of mineral and toasty oak; medium to medium-full body; crisp, nicely balanced, green apple flavors with mineral notes and bright acidity; lingering aftertaste. Nicely balanced and enjoyable to drink now. Very highly recommended.” – Nick Ponomareff (May 2019)
Average Rating: 91.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 82
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