82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc
99 Points – James Suckling, JamesSuckling.com
98 Points – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
98 Points – Karen MacNeil, Decanter
97 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
96 Points + Cellar Selection – Matt Kettmann, Wine Enthusiast
95 Points – James Molesworth, Wine Spectator
95 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
Santa Cruz Mountains
Complex aromas of blackberry, tobacco, roasted coffee bean and wintergreen. On the palate, concentrated plum layered with well-coated tannins, firm acidity, oak spice and notes of licorice on the long finish. JO (1/22)
Abundant winter rainfall followed by warm spring weather created ideal growing conditions. With the exception of merlot, the vines set a big crop. Fortunately, a long warm summer fully ripened all varietals in early October. During blind tastings, a record forty-one separate lots were assembled to create this vintage of Monte Bello. Structured and opulent, it will be enjoyable for the next twentyfive to thirty years. JO (4/21)
In 1886, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the first Monte Bello vineyards were planted, and winery construction begun. A first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During Prohibition (1920-1933), the vineyard was not fully maintained; some vines survived into the late 30’s, but by the 1940s they were effectively abandoned. Eight acres of cabernet sauvignon were replanted in 1949. These were the source of the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until 1974 when younger blocks replanted in the 1960’s were considered for inclusion. Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted.
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: 28 September – 20 October
Grapes: Average Brix 24.4˚
TA: 7.80 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berry fermentation. 15% automated berry sorting. Fermented on the native yeasts. Pressed at nine days. Natural malolactic.
Barrels: 100% new air-dried oak barrels: 95% American, 5% French.
Aging: Seventeen months in barrel
Hand-harvested; estate grown Monte Bello Vineyard grapes, organically farmed, destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur 35 ppm at crush, 87 ppm during aging; depth filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
JamesSuckling.com: 99 Points “This is a very powerful Monte Bello with currants and blackberry, black licorice and smoked meat. Mint. Some sesame seed, too. It’s full-bodied with incredible darkness and saltiness like volcanic salt. Umami. Grilled seaweed. Flavorful and captivating. It goes on for minutes. Try after 2025, but this may age forever.” -James Suckling (November 2022)
Vinous Media: 98 Points “The 2019 Monte Bello is a wild, exotic wine. Huge, soaring aromatics meld into a core of heady, exotically ripe fruit. Not a shy wine by any means, the 2019 is atypically opulent, and yet all of the classic Monte Bello structure is there, underneath all of that fruit. The 2019 needs time in bottle to shed its baby fat, but there is a lot to look forward to. I imagine it will always be a pretty exuberant wine. Inky red fruit, blood orange, espresso, sweet American oak, cedar and pipe tobacco leave a lasting impression. In a word: magnificent!” -Antonio Galloni (May 2022)
Decanter: 98 Points “Opens with soaring red raspberry and vivid cassis flavours. Even more precise and pure-tasting than its brother, the Estate Cabernet, Monte Bello has exquisite choreography and building on the palate. Still terribly young, has an immense structure. With time, its finish will no doubt lengthen if one can endure the agony of waiting. This is the wine that has established Ridge as a California ‘First Growth’. Because of the vineyard’s cool mountain site exposed to the Pacific, Monte Bello always has a dramatic freshness—drinking it, you feel as though you’re in the mountains yourself. The first Monte Bello vines were planted in 1886, but the vineyard fell into near ruin during and post-Prohibition. A mere 3.25ha (eight acres) were replanted in 1949 and were the source of the first Monte Bello in 1962. Since then, other historic blocks have also been replanted. The 2019 is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.” -Karen MacNeil (November 2022)
OwenBargreen.com: 97 Points “A masterpiece by the Ridge winemaking team, the 2019 ‘Monte Bello’ is a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 8% Petit Verdot with a splash of Cabernet Franc. Blending for this wine took place on February 5-6 as twenty-eight lots were blind tasted and scored prior to crafting the final blend. This really needs an hour or two in the decanter prior to enjoying, as it is very tightly-wound like most new release Monte Bellos. Once aroused this shows incredible nuance aromatically from wintergreen and dried herbs to cassis and creme de violette notes, with scorched earth undertones. The palate is very fresh and vibrant with a seamless texture and wonderful length. Try not to touch this beauty for at least two more years, as this has both the weight and finesse to cellar well past two decades. Drink 2024-2045.” -Owen Bargreen (June 2022)
Wine Enthusiast: 96 Points + Cellar Selection “Rich and smoky on the nose, this famed estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which is enhanced with 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc, offers aromas of roasted plum, mesquite, sandalwood and frankincense on the nose. Impressively polished tannins consume the palate, where roasted berry, black plum and toasted coffee flavors linger long. Drink now–2039” -Matt Kettmann (September 2022)
Wine Spectator: 95 Points “This has a densely packed core of vivid red and black currant and mulberry fruit, which is encased for now in a mix of charcoal, cast iron, singed mesquite and apple wood. Shows terrific drive, though, and everything is in proportion, with an echo of violet hinting at some inner purity. This will just need time to unwind. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2024 through 2040.” -James Molesworth (September 2022)
JebDunnuck.com: 95 Points “The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello is a more Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, all hitting 13.7% alcohol. As usual, it was aged in new American oak. It shows the higher Cabernet component and is deep purple-hued and tight and closed, with a primordial vibe to its dark blue and black fruit, smoked tobacco, vanilla bean, graphite, and cedarwood aromatics. Medium to full-bodied on the palate, it has terrific overall balance, building, ripe tannins, a good sense of freshness, and outstanding length. It reminds me slightly of the 2018 with its more elegant, streamlined profile, but I expect this to build with bottle age, and it should have 2-3 decades of overall longevity.” -Jeb Dunnuck (August 2022)
The Fine Wine Review: 95+ Points “Ridge’s flagship Monte Bello historically has borne comparison to two Bordeaux first growths, Haut-Brion and Latour; that most certainly is the case with the 2019 vintage. The hot bricks aromas characteristic of Haut-Brion are here, and they are supplemented by slight herbal notes. The mouth shows intense cassis fruit with a noble austerity of texture and structure brought about by plenty of tannin and acid — and thus evoking the comparison with Latour. This vintage has a significantly higher percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon than usual at 82% (along with 9% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc), thus making the Latour comparison even stronger. Some will enjoy drinking the wine already for the ebullience of its fruit, but for maximum pleasure, I’d wait at least a decade.” -Claude Kolm (July 2022)
Wilfred Wong: 96 Points “Generous berries, complementary oak; well balanced; intense; plenty to like here; lasting finish.” (September 2022)
Average Rating: 96.5
No. of Tasting Notes: 14
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