100% Chardonnay – Organically Grown
96 Points – Wine & Spirits
94 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale gold color. Aromas of pear, fig, ripe pineapple, brioche, citrus blossom, and limestone. Rich texture and lively acidity with notes of wet stone and mineral and an elegant, long finish. EB (3/20)
This mild growing season was short on rainfall. Summer fog slowed vine growth, delaying harvest until late September. Whole-cluster pressed, the juice from our twelve chardonnay parcels fermented separately in barrel. Tasting the following August, we assembled the barrels that showed distinctive Monte Bello character for this wine. It achieved brilliant clarity through natural settling. This excellent vintage will be enjoyable 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: 26 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Early March
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: 15 – 26 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.4˚
TA: 7.9 g/L
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished late July 2019, and secondary finished by October 2019.
Barrels: 90% air-dried American oak and 10% French oak barrels (15% new, 10% one year-old, 5% two years-old, 15% four and five years-old, and 55% 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 (35 ppm at juice barrel down, 55 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine & Spirits: 96 Points “Ridge’s winemaking team in Cupertino selects the top estate chardonnay parcels in certain vintages to bottle separately as Monte Bello. Fermented in American oak barrels (in a range of ages selected for the vintage) this formidable wine develops slowly once the bottle is opened. At first, it’s tight, juicy and cool, hinting at lemon and walnuts but mostly about the brisk earthiness of limestone-driven acidity – already graceful and expressive. As it develops over the course of several days, the reductive mineral notes turn savory, accentuating the wine’s brightness, the structure feeling healthy, outrageously good. On solid ground for a long life ahead.” -J.G. (October 2021 Edition)
Vinous: 94 Points “The 2018 Chardonnay Monte Bello is a wild, exotic wine. Lemon confit, crushed rocks, apricot, floral-infused honey and a touch of reduction all run through the 2018. This wonderfully complex, nuanced Chardonnay has a ton to offer. Time in the glass brings out lovely silkiness to balance things out.” -Antonio Galloni (May 2022)
Average Rating: 92.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 17
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