78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot
94 Points – Wine Enthusiast
94 Points – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
Santa Cruz Mountains
Saturated purple color with notes of black cherry, chai spice, chaparral and toasted oak. Bramble fruit on the palate with round, supple tannins, herbal forest character, and a long finish. EB (3/20)
Though winter was mild and dry, spring storms delivered enough rain for the vines to thrive. Summer fog and cold nights slowed ripening while intensifying flavors and acidity. Whole berries were fermented in small tanks with limited pump-overs resulting in softer tannins. Once pressed, each lot was kept in separate barrels until assemblage. Eighteen months’ time in oak has produced a sensuous wine with great appeal. It will be most enjoyable over the next twelve to eighteen 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: 26 inches (below normal)
Weather: Winter rains were late to arrive, delivering a season’s worth or rainfall in March. This gave Monte Bello 75% of the 26 inches of rain for the year, which is below normal. Spring remained cold with heavier than usual fog, slowing the progress for a late September harvest.
Harvest Dates: 18 September – 17 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.9˚
TA: 7.15 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, and sorted; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at nine days. Natural malolactic initiated in tank, finished in barrel with additional ten weeks of lees contact.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (58% new, 8% one year-old, and 34% two years-old).
Aging: Eighteen 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 (35 ppm at crush, 140 ppm during aging); four egg whites per barrel for tannin reduction; depth filtration at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Jancis Robinson: 17.5 “Very deep crimson. Exotically spicy notes rather reminiscent of stereotypical Mouton! An attractive drink already with ripe, interesting fruit and a dry finish. Not ashamed to display a bit of tannin at this early juncture – very unlike most California Cabs. Relatively Good Value.” (May 2022)
Wine Enthusiast: 94 Points “Intense aromas of blackberry and cassis meet with smoked meats, strong oak and light herbs on the toasty, layered nose of this bottling, which includes 21% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot. Chipped wood flavors decorate the dark-fruit and roasted herb core of the palate.” -Matt Kettman (August 2021)
JamesSuckling.com: 94 Points “A beautiful, fresh red with blackberry, blueberry and some chocolate. Pine, light toffee and coffee undertones. Dried herbs, too. Medium to full body with intensity and richness. Dusty tannins. Savory finish. Very drinkable now, but even better in 2023.” -James Suckling (March 2021)
Wine & Spirits: 92 Points “A selection of the lots from Monte Bello that are more accessible as young wines, Ridge’s Estate Cabernet has supple black tannins in 2018, showing some earthy detail in their blueberry-skin flavors. There’s rich fatness to the texture, even as the tannins restrict the fruit from showing itself completely. This will need a few years in the cellar to open.” -J.G. (December 2021 Issue)
Average Rating: 92.0
No. of Tasting Notes: 39
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