100% Chardonnay, Organically Grown
95 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Santa Cruz Mountains
Translucent gold color. Scented pear and pineapple fruits, wet stone, and honeysuckle flowers. Enters with ripe pears, full bodied, rich texture, and finishes with great length and complex minerality. EB (2/20)
Powerful winter storms delivered near record rainfall. Though spring was cold, summer warmth helped ripen the crop for harvest on August 30. The juice from this small Monte Bello parcel was sent to barrel to undergo a slow fermentation. The resulting wine gained both richness and complexity, as it aged on its gross lees. Firmly acidic and youthful, it will develop slowly over the next fifteen years.
In the late 1940s, 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.
Rainfall: 44.2 inches (above normal)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: A cool spring affected set while warm spells in summer pushed the vines along. A Labor Day heat wave ripened the grapes nicely.
Harvest Date: 30 August
Grapes: Average Brix 23.2˚
TA: 7.2 g/L
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished late July 2018, and secondary finished by October 2018.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (8% new, 20% one year-old, 28% two years-old, and 44% six years-old).
Aging: Twenty months in barrel
Hand-harvested, estate-grown, organic 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, 39 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Vinous Media: 95 Points “The 2017 Chardonnay Monte Bello, from a single block on the Rousten ranch, is oily and viscous in the glass. Lemon confit, marzipan, dried flowers, chamomile and a touch of reduction are all laced throughout. Here, too, a bit of aeration really brings out the wine’s depth and resonance. Readers will find an exceptionally polished, creamy Monte Bello Chardonnay in 2017.” -Antonio Galloni (September 2020)
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