95 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
94 Points – Wine & Spirits
94 Points – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
92 Points – Wine Enthusiast
Santa Cruz Mountains
Pale, sun-bleached straw color with aromas of fresh lemon zest, green apple, wet stone, and honeysuckle flowers. Creamy texture on the palate with juicy acidity, notes of salinity, and citrus blossom and pineapple on the finish. EB (9/20)
Significant winter rain restored groundwater on Monte Bello Estate. Cold spring weather delayed bud-break and bloom. Summer fogs further slowed ripening. Picked in early October, each parcels’ juice fermented in separate barrels. This year’s Estate Chardonnay was assembled in late July and returned to older barrels and tank for continued settling. Showing appealing fruit, it will be most enjoyable over the next seven 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: 50.4 inches (above normal)
Weather: Lots of rain soaked California throughout the winter. Spring rains continued until mid-May. Warm summer weather allowed the large crop to ripen evenly, resulting in an abundant, excellent harvest.
Harvest Dates: 21 September – 8 October
Grapes: Average Brix 23.8˚
TA: 6.46 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Selection: Ten of twelve Estate Chardonnay parcels
Barrels: 87% air-dried American oak, 13% French oak (37% one year-old, 8% two years-old, 9% three years-old, 13% four years-old and 18% five years-old). 30% stainless steel tank.
Aging: Fourteen 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.
JebDunnuck.com: 95 Points “Coming from the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2019 Chardonnay Estate offers a beautiful sense of reduction and minerality in its stone fruits, toasted brioche, and crushed stone-like aromas and flavors. A kiss of green almonds and salinity emerges with time in the glass, and this is a beautiful, classic Chardonnay from this team that will evolve gracefully for a good 20 years or more.” -Jeb Dunnuck (July 2021)
Wine & Spirits: 94 Points “Mostly from vines planted in the 1970s at parcels since-incorporated into the Monte Bello Estate, this wine ferments spontaneously in oak barrels (mostly American, ranging from one to five years old). This vintage is a selection of ten out of 12 parcels, grown over greenstone (altered basalt) and decomposing limestone at the former Rousten and Klein Vineyards, lower-elevation site at the estate. It’s a pale chardonnay with lemon and ginger scents, the tight, brisk structure nodding to the Pacific, not only for the climate but also for the uplifted seabed soils above the San Andreas fault. Within that structure, the wine feels lush and juicy, cool and savory, delicious with scallop and porcini risotto.” -J.G. (October 2021 Issue)
JamesSuckling.com: 94 Points “Concentrated aromas of hawthorn, dried pineapple, salted caramel and buttered toast. It’s full-bodied with bright acidity and intense, tightly wound layers of ripe, spiced fruit. Fantastic phenolic tension and energy here. Drink or hold.” -James Suckling (February 2021)
Wine Enthusiast: 92 Points “There’s a flinty tone of struck stone and chiseled granite on the nose of this bottling, which also shows a singed lemon fragrance on the nose. There’s a woody quality to the sip, giving some depth to the seared lime-peel, macadamia-nut and sprinkled sea-salt flavors.” -Matt Kettman (July 2021)
Average Rating: 91.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 28
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