94 Points – Wine Spectator
94 Points – Erin Brooks, Rober Parker Wine Advocate
94 Points – Wine Enthusiast
94 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
94 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
Santa Cruz Mountains
Golden straw color, notes of citrus, vanilla and apple on the nose. Medium to full-bodied on the palate with pear fruit, good minerality, a hint of honey and a long clean finish. JO (1/22)
Harvested over a three week period, all of the grapes were immediately pressed as whole clusters and sent to barrel to ferment. After completing primary and secondary fermentation, eleven lots from the Klein and Rousten vineyards were assembled and then returned to barrel to age for five more months prior to bottling. This rich, elegant chardonnay is enjoyable upon release and over the next five to six years. JO (11/21)
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: 22.4 inches (below normal)
Bloom: Late May
Weather: Rains in March and April helped the vines get through the summer.
Harvest Dates: 22 August – 14 September
Grapes: Average Brix 22.5˚
TA: 5.55 g/L
Fermentation: Grapes are whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Barrels: 80% air-dried American oak barrels, 20% French Oak (15% new, 20% one year-old, 40% three years-old, and 25% five years-old).
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 for this wine (35 ppm at crush, 71 ppm over the course of aging); pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.
Wine Spectator: 94 Points “Bold, with wonderful intensity, this white features a core of peach, pineapple and toasted spice notes that show overtones of salted butterscotch. The body is buttery and smooth, with a hint of white flowers and Honecrisp apple on the finish, while a touch of beeswax and nutmeg lingers. Drink now through 2030.” -M.W. (May 2022)
Robert Parker Wine Advocate: 94 Points “The 2020 Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard opens with streaks of matchstick and dried hay over a core of white peach and acacia, and as it spends time in the glass it blossoms to reveal alluring spicy and herbal undertones. The light-bodied palate is refreshing and gently creamy, with restrained, flint-streaked fruit and a long, floral finish. It’s drinking well but could use another 2-3 years in bottle, or a few hours in the decanter.” -Erin Brooks (March 2023)
Wine Enthusiast: 94 Points “There’s a stunningly flinty aroma to the nose of this bottling, like smoke from chiseled granite, as well as hints of citrus peel. The palate grabs hold with a grippy tension, carrying flavors of crushed stones, singed lemon pith and light oak spice.” -Matt Kettmann (June 2022)
JebDunnuck.com: 94 Points “Coming from the estate vineyard on the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2020 Chardonnay Estate has a beautiful nose of honeyed lemon blossom, crushed stone, toasty oak, and a touch of reductive-like minerality. This carries to a brilliantly balanced, medium-bodied Chardonnay with a round, layered mouthfeel, good acidity, and a focused style that should age gracefully for 7-8 years, if not longer.” -Jeb Dunnuck (August 2022)
OwenBargreen.com: 94 Points “The 2020 ‘Estate’ Chardonnay by Ridge was entirely sourced from the Monte Bello Estate Vineyard and definitely improves in terms of flavor density and flavor range after two hours of air. This Chardonnay exudes class with great aromatic range from buttered popcorn and ripe banana tones alongside Challah bread and suggestions of nectarine rind. The palate is very elegant and shows a Burgundian sense of finesse, with lovely salty undertones and a ripe core of melon and citrus fruits. Finishing very long, this outstanding new Chardonnay will be sure to cellar well over the next decade. Drink 2022-2032” -Owen Bargreen (March 2022)
Fine Wine Review: 91+ Points “The Chardonnay is a wine with richness but also structure and plenty of tension. Blind, I might mistake it for a Corton-Charlemagne. The wine went through malo-lactic fermentation but still has very good acidity and steeliness, and the malo adds a light nuttiness to the still very young, apply fruit. The winemaker’s notes suggest drinking it over the next five years, which is most reasonable, but my experience with Monte Bello Chardonnays is that they can age for longer than that.” -Claude Kolm (June 2022)
Average Rating: 90.9
No. of Tasting Notes: 41
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