96% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Sauvignon
93 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
92 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
91 Points – Wine Enthusiast
Santa Cruz Mountains
Dark, vibrant red color with aromas of bright red plum, tobacco leaf, cedar, and toasty oak. Red bramble fruit on the palate with supple, fine-grained tannins, lively acidity, and a long finish. JO (7/21)
Heavy winter rains followed by a long cool spring delayed budbreak. Warm weather in August and September accelerated ripening for a mid-October harvest. The destemmed grapes were left to ferment for seven days as whole berries. After pressing, the new wine was sent to barrel to complete malolactic and age for a further nineteen months. Focused fruit, elegant tannins and balanced acidity characterize this unique merlot. It will develop over the next ten years. JO (7/21)
Ridge first made merlot in 1974 from the Point, the highest, most exposed block on the Monte Bello vineyard at an elevation of 2600′. Originally, we wanted to see if the varietal could match the quality of, and be included in, the Monte Bello. Once satisfied that it could, we planted more merlot over the years as space and resources allowed. From 1975 on, it has been a part of the Monte Bello whenever assemblage tastings so indicated. As the younger plantings matured, it became apparent that not only did merlot complement the Monte Bello, but also had the structure and complexity to merit a separate bottling.
Rainfall: 50.4 inches (above normal)
Bloom: Mid June
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: 1 – 22 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.7˚
TA: 5.98 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berries. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations. Pressed at six days.
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (75% new and 25% one year-old).
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel
Hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed, left as whole berries; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm initially, 80 ppm over the course of aging). Depth filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
OwenBargeen.com: 93 Points “Sourced from the Monte Bello Vineyard, this has 4% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in. Very dark in the glass, this delivers pencil lead, garrigue and chocolate fudge notes alongside black currant accents on this seductive nose that shows outstanding range. The wine shows brilliant flavor density and weight, yet offers great finesse and mouth-watering acidity. Finishing very long with black fruits and minerals, this fabulous effort will cellar well over the next fifteen years. Drink 2022-2037.” -Owen Bargreen (June 2022)
JebDunnuck.com: 92 Points “I loved the 2019 Merlot, which comes from the Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It sports a deep purple hue as well as lots of ripe plum, blueberry, and blackberry fruits supported by spicy oak, tobacco, and spicy, almost cigar nuances. Textured, medium to full-bodied, plump, and rounded on the palate, it’s ready to go yet should keep for a decade. (These wines always age better than I expect.)” -Jeb Dunnuck (August 2022)
Wine Enthusiast: 91 Points “Smoky aromas of roasted wood meet with cracked pepper and dark black cherry on the nose of this bottling, which includes 4% Cabernet Sauvignon from the historic estate. Salt-and-pepper-seasoned beef rib and roasted-berry flavors align on the palate.” -Matt Kettmann (September 2022)
The Fine Wine Review: 90 Points “This wine is quite seductive for current consumption and according to the winemaker’s notes, should develop over the next ten years. It is smooth and silky with truffly dark plum and other dark fruits. Some oak is there if you look for it, but it is very well integrated with the fruit and does not stick out. It is a wine that is characterized by its balance and harmony.” -Claude Kolm (July 2022)
Average Rating: 91.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 22
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