94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot
94 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
Members-only release. Learn more about our Monte Bello Collector membership program.
Santa Cruz Mountains
Inky purple hues with dark plum, black cherry, cedar, cola and sweet toasted oak on the nose. A full-bodied entry with black berry, cocoa powder, brown spices and peppermint on the palate. Layered textures and focused tannins lead to a long finish. TG (11/22)
Late spring rains disrupted fruit set in the merlot and yields were likewise down in petit verdot. With less of these two varieties to work with, cabernet sauvignon makes up a larger proportion of this year’s wine. All the grapes were de-stemmed but left as whole berries for slower, gentler extraction during fermentation. After nineteen months of barrel aging, tannins are well integrated. This exemplary mountain-grown cabernet will develop more fully over the next fifteen years. JO (6/22)
In 1886, the first blocks of the Monte Bello Vineyard were planted and construction on the winery began. The first vintage was the 1892. In the early 1940s, the last of the old vineyard was abandoned; in the late forties a few blocks were replanted. Those cabernet vines—now over sixty-five years old—produced the first Ridge Monte Bello (1962) and subsequent vintages until 1974. By then other abandoned blocks had been replanted and their fruit considered for use in the Monte Bello. A number of those consistently produced a more accessible wine that developed its full complexity earlier and these were combined as the “Santa Cruz Mountains.” With the 2008 vintage the name of this stylistically distinct wine became the Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, stressing the principal varietal and the Monte Bello Estate vineyard as its source.
Rainfall: 22.4 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Mid June
Weather: Decent rains in December led to dry weather in January and February. A very wet March and April helped the vines during the growing season. Unsettled weather in June saw several heat spikes in between cool spells. The rest of the summer was mild until the middle of August when very hot temperatures and dry lightning ignited wildfires throughout northern California, followed by more warm weather in September.
Harvest Dates: 17 September – 8 October
Grapes: Average Brix 25.3˚
TA: 6.72 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, and sorted; 100% whole berries fermented on the native yeasts.
Selection: Eighteen of twenty estate parcels
Barrels: 100% air-dried American oak barrels (55% new, 45% one year old).
Aging: Sixteen months in barrel
Hand-harvested, estate-grown grapes; destemmed and sorted; fermented on the native yeasts; full malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria; minimum effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 138 ppm during aging); four egg whites per barrel for tannin reduction; depth filtration at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
OwenBargreen.com: 94 Points “This comes from a site at the estate which is set on limestone and between 1400-2500 elevation. Stored in 55% new American oak before bottling, this reveals hickory notes alongside creme de cassis, anise and shades of black tea. This is seriously good now but give this another year in the bottle to fully come together. Drink 2024-2040.” -Owen Bargreen (April 2023)
JebDunnuck.com: 90 Points “The 2020 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate comes all from the estate Monte Bello Vineyard on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, which is much warmer than the western side of the region. A blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Merlot that was brought up in 55% new American oak, it has a bright and vibrant perfume of black plums, smoked herbs, darker chocolate, and vanilla-laced oak. It’s firm, focused, and linear on the palate, with medium to full body, nicely integrated acidity, and building tannins. It should benefit from a year or two in the cellar, and I would enjoy bottles over the following decade.” -Jeb Dunnuck (October 2023)
Average Rating: 91.8
No. of Tasting Notes: 14
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