2021 Estate Chardonnay

2021 Estate Chardonnay

Wine Information

100% Chardonnay

96 Points – Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com
94 PointsWine Spectator
94 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
93 Points + Editors’ ChoiceWine Enthusiast




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Tropical fruit aromas of guava and pineapple with hints of toasted marshmallow and lavender. Flavors of pear, white peach and key lime. A weighty entry that is balanced by lively acidity brings complexity and elegance to this lovely wine. Enjoyable upon release and over the next six to seven years. TG (11/22)

Vintage Notes

Rainfall was scarce through the winter months with less than 15 inches of rain. Spring and summer temperatures allowed for slow and even ripening. Harvest began in late August; we picked steadily over the next three weeks. Whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented and sur lees aged for nine months, this complex, elegant chardonnay will be enjoyable over the next six years. TG (11/22)


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.

Growing Season

Rainfall: 14 inches (30% of normal)
Bloom: Early May
Weather: A dry winter and spring stressed the vines, limiting yields and concentrating flavors. Harvest was early, accelerated by a heat wave in early September. For the first time in our 50+ year history we finished our Monte Bello harvest before Lytton Springs.


Harvest Dates: 26 August – 16 September
Grapes: Average Brix 22.5˚
TA: 6.91 g/L
pH: 3.36
Fermentation: Grapes were whole-cluster pressed and barrel fermented. Natural primary and natural secondary (malolactic) fermentations.
Barrels: 60% air-dried American oak, 40% French oak (24% new, 5% one year old, and 71% two to three years old).
Aging: Fifteen 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, 82.7 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.


JebDunnuck.com: 96 Points “One of the finest Chardonnays coming out of California is consistently the estate release from Ridge. Their 2021 Chardonnay Estate offers a gorgeous nose of crushed citrus, flower oil, flinty minerality, toasted nuts, and white flowers, with perfectly integrated background oak. It tastes like a Grand Cru white Burgundy with its minerality, vibrant acidity, yet balancing extract and concentration. It’s easily the finest vintage of this I’ve tasted, and readers should jump on bottles. It will have 15-20 years of overall longevity.” -Jeb Dunnuck (October 2023)

Wine Spectator: 94 Points “Rich and toasty up front, with grilled orange, toasted cumin, nectarine and honeycomb notes, plus dried ginger and cardamom. Shows a touch of salted toffee to complement peach preserves, dried pineapple and Honeycrisp apple. Juicy finish. Drink now.” -M.W. (May 2023)

OwenBargreen.com: 94 Points “Entirely sourced from the Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, this was stored in 24% new French oak before bottling. The wine comes from vines that were first planted in the late 1940s that is set on fractured limestone. Toasted hazelnut salted peach, and suggestions of baking spice dusted brioche all hit the nose. The palate is very soft and seamless with ripe stone and tropical fruit flavors. Finishing very long with salty minerals and vanilla cream, this is a beautiful, generous wine to consume now and over the next ten years. Drink 2023-2033.” -Owen Bargreen (April 2023)

Wine Enthusiast: 93 Points + Editors’ Choice “This bottling is always one of the more unusual Chardonnays on the market, showing so much of a flinty tone on both the nose and palate. This vintage begins with struck stone, sour cream and sharp grapefruit aromas before the palate packs in seared lemon and more smoked rock flavors.” -M.K. (August 2023)

Robert Parker Wine Advocate: 92 Points “The 2021 Chardonnay Estate Monte Bello Vineyard was aged in 60% American and 40% French oak for 15 months. The nose is spry and lively, with matchstick, lemon curd and white flower aromas. The palate combines a polished richness with refreshing zest, concluding with a clean finish and decent length. This is a floral and vibrant introductory expression of the Monte Bello site.” -Matthew Luczy (April 2024)

Consumer Tasting Notes

Average Rating: 90.8

No. of Tasting Notes: 27

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Food Pairings

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