100% Chardonnay, Organically Grown
96 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
95 Points – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
94 Points – MaryAnn Worobiec Wine Spectator
93+ Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Santa Cruz Mountains
Toasty brioche and apple fruit on the nose. Full and rich palate with citrus and ripe pear fruit. Clean and long finish showing minerality and balanced acidity. JO (5/22)
Twelve lots were picked separately and barrel fermented. Soon after fermentation, we identified one from the Rousten vineyard as Monte Bello for its intensity and mineral notes. The Lone Tree block from Perrone was later included to balance acidity. After aging for fifteen months in barrel, primarily in American oak, the wine is immediately appealing but will age beautifully over at least the next ten years. JO (4/21)
In the late 1940’s 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: 50 inches (above normal)
Bloom: Mid March
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 Date: 23 September
Grapes: Average Brix 23.4˚
TA: 5.88 g/L
Fermentation: Whole-cluster pressed. Natural primary finished late July 2020, and secondary finished by October 2020.
Selection: 100% Monte Bello Vineyard chardonnay parcels
Barrels: 95% air-dried American & 5% French oak barrels (10% one year-old, 10% two years-old, 50% four years-old, and 30% five and six years-old).
Aging: Fifteen 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, 66 ppm over the course of aging); bottled without filtration. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
OwenBargreen.com: 96 Points “The 2019 ‘Monte Bello’ Chardonnay was stored for fifteen months in primarily American oak barrels before bottling. This is a seamless and elegant wine that shows great depth, weight and poise. Sweet corn, pineapple, creme brûlée and toasty oak notes combine seamlessly on the palate. This comes off as very weightless and just wait for the near minute long finish. Give this an hour of air and this will get better and better.” -Owen Bargreen (August 2022)
JamesSuckling.com: 95 Points “A unique chardonnay with sliced cooked peach, dried pineapple, lemon curd and vanilla. Some nougat, too. It’s full-bodied and layered with a creamy texture. Flavorful and spicy finish. Chalky at the end, with a white-pepper undertone. Drink now or hold.” -James Suckling (October 2022)
Wine Spectator: 94 Points “Supple and elegant on the palate, but not shy on power, with browned butter, salted toffee and nutmeg notes adding complexity to a core of apricot and peach flavors. Showing a fresh thread of acidity, this is a powerful, complex wine with a long, epic finish. Drink now through 2030.” -MaryAnn Worobiec (December 2022)
Wilfred Wong: 94 Points “Lovely and enticing; savory spices, active, compelling; long, bright fruit flavors, spicy, lasting, oak in the background.” (September 2022)
Vinous Media: 93+ Points “The 2019 Chardonnay Monte Bello is a very pretty, impeccably balanced wine in a vintage in which the reds off the estate are so opulent, the 2019 comes across as pretty restrained. Hints of apricot, dried flowers, chamomile and lemon confit all take shape in the glass. I would prefer to give the 2019 a year or two in the bottle, as it is in a transitional phase as it passes from being a young wine to showing the complexity and nuance that starts to develop in bottle. Most of this fruit is from Perrone, at the highest part of the ranch.” -Antonio Galloni (October 2022)
Wine & Spirits: 92 Points “This has the formal structure of chardonnay grown in limestone, and the dry peach flavor of ripe California fruit. It’s as rich as buttered caramels, toasty, but not sweet. Give this time to develop; Monte Bello chardonnays can evolve for a decade or more.” -J.G. (November 2022)
Average Rating: 91.2
No. of Tasting Notes: 6
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