Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale sun-bleached straw color. Ripe apple and yellow plum fruit aromas, citrus blossom, and sweet baked dessert. Sensuous entry, showing appealing mountain fruit, elegance, balanced acidity, and a beautiful mineral aftertaste. EB (1/20)
Winter was late to arrive, delivering a season’s worth of rainfall in March. Spring remained cold, followed by heavier-than-usual summer fog, slowing vine progress for a late September harvest. Thirteen parcels barrel fermented and sur lees aged for fifteen months. This fine chardonnay was an assemblage of barrels showing appealing fruit and elegance. It will be enjoyable over the next five years.
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: 26 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Winter rains were late to arrive, delivering a season’s worth of 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: 19-26 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.8˚
TA: 6.99 g/L
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:94% air-dried American oak, 6% French oak; (12% new, 18% one and two year-old, 13% three and four year-old and 57% five to nine year-old).
Aging: Fifteen months in barrel
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. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Average Rating: 93
No. of Tasting Notes: 2
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