2021 Monte Bello

2021 Monte Bello

Wine Information

64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot

100 Points – Jim Gordon, JamesSuckling.com
99 Points – Owen Bargreen, OwenBargreen.com
96 PointsRobert Parker Wine Advocate

*The 2021 Monte Bello was released to Monte Bello Collector members with a futures order in March of 2024 and will be released to all club members during the member-exclusive release period in August.




Monte Bello


Santa Cruz Mountains

Alcohol By Volume


Winemaker Tasting Notes

Deep ruby color. Ripe mountain blackberry and cassis, anise, lavender, violets, sweet toasted oak and earthy, mineral components. Bold fruit at entry coupled with fine-grained tannins and firm acidity. Layered and complex mid-palate with a long, intense finish. TG (4/23)

Vintage Notes

Warm weather in August, especially at the higher elevations, expedited ripeness. For the first time, we harvested from the top vineyard at Perrone to the bottom at Klein. The drought reduced yields by more than a third, resulting in small berries with exceptional tannin and color concentration. This year, instead of all parcels finishing malolactic in barrel as in the past, sixty percent finished in tank. This classic Monte Bello will develop over the next twenty to twenty-five years. JO (5/23)


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.

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: 1 – 24 September
Grapes: Average Brix 24.4˚
TA: 6.90 g/L
pH: 3.46
Fermentation: Grapes destemmed, 100% whole berry fermentation. Fermented on the native yeasts. Natural malolactic.
Selection: Twenty-two Monte Bello parcels
Barrels: 100% new oak barrels: 92% American oak, 8% French oak
Aging: Nineteen months in barrel

Hand-harvested; estate grown Monte Bello Vineyard grapes, 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, 108 ppm during aging; depth filtered at bottling. In keeping with our philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our actions.


JamesSuckling.com: 100 Points “Tightly wound at this stage, the wine is massively concentrated, taut, yet trim and medium-bodied. Aged in 100% new oak, predominantly American, it offers espresso, blackberry, black cherry and vanilla bean flavors with a linear intensity and drive. Known to age and improve for several decades, this is one of California’s most collectible cabs and from a classic, age-worthy vintage. Best from 2031.” -Jim Gordon (May 2024)

OwenBargreen.com: 99 Points “A world-class wine from this vintage, the 2021 ‘Monte Bello’ combines 64% Cabernet Sauvignon with 31%Merlot and the remainder Petit Verdot. Beautiful dark rose petals combine with green bell pepper, cuban cigar, and wild blackberry. The palate is soft and seamless as this effortlessly glides throughout the drinking experience. A total head-turner, with tremendous mouthfeel, refined tannins and a light dusting of salinity, this beauty will cellar well for at least another twenty years to come. Try to resist this beauty for at least another year. Drink 2025-2050.” – Owen Bargreen (May 2024)

Robert Parker Wine Advocate: 96 Points “2021 marks the start of a new era at Ridge, now under the stewardship of Trester Goetting and longtime Ridge veteran John Olney following the departure of veteran winemaker Eric Baugher. The 2021 Monte Bello is 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot due to drought-induced low yields, particularly in Cabernet Sauvignon. It is already assertive and polished on the nose, with aromas of cassis, dried tobacco, green peppercorn, mint and figs springing from the glass. The palate is suave and refined with electrifying energy and persistence, leading to a sophisticated finish of ripe black fruits and drying, layered stately tannins. Even in this embryonic stage, the perpetual pedigree of Monte Bello is here in spades; cellar for a decade and enjoy over the following two and beyond.” -Matthew Luczy (April 2024)

Vintage Tracker

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Food Pairings

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