Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2005
Bordeaux Red Blends from Santa Cruz Mountains, California
A blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Our estate vineyards high on Monte Bello Ridge are exposed to the Pacific Ocean, fifteen miles to the west. This gives us a climate as cool as Bordeaux, but also subjects us to the ocean's vicissitudes. Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc were added immediately, another Merlot and three Cabernets in May, some rich first-press wine in December. Seventeen months in new air-dried American oak—from both French and American coopers—has contributed spice and texture. This is a superb vintage. Beautifully balanced, it will continue to develop over the next several decades.
The Wine Advocate - "Composed of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, the 2005 Monte Bello should be one of the all-time greats made at this estate. It offers a dense purple color, an extraordinary bouquet of spring flowers, blueberries, creme de cassis, black fruits, and a hint of oak. It also has an unctuous texture. As with all rich wines, the oak component plays a complementary role in the wine’s nuances. A seamless integration of acidity, wood, tannin, and alcohol is found in this rich, elegant, pure, dense beauty. There is a certain accessibility to the 2005 that is unusual by Monte Bello’s standards, and it will age effortlessly for 25+a years. "
Wine & Spirits - "The vines at Ridge's Monte Bello estate vineyard, at altitudes from 1,300 to 2,660 feet above the Pacific, consistently produce one of the greatest cabernet sauvignons in California. In 2005, a cold, wet spring cut yields to one ton per acre, the lowest level in ten years. The summer and fall ripened that small crop into something extraordinary. That season highlighted the factors that distinguish this wine: the maturity of the cabernet sauvignon vines, some that date to 1949; the limestone subsoils that sustain the vines without irrigation; the native yeast fermentations and the skill of the blending team, which selected half of the production for this final blend (in addition to 70 percent cabernet sauvignon, it includes merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc). It tastes like tiny berries, an authentic California wine, with the flavor of mountain-grown fruit very dark in color and not a lot of them. The tannins have the intensity of wild blueberries, a soft power that's friendly rather than austere. Its fresh, bright floral aspects combine seamlessly with the structure, pointing up the wine's youthful beauty. The moderate alcohol (13.4 percent) is just one more factor that predicts a long life ahead for this wine."
International Wine Cellar - "Deep ruby. Explosively perfumed nose offers a profound bouquet of ripe cherry, blackcurrant, yellow rose, Asian spices and vanilla bean; you could use this for incense. Deep and sweet but remarkably precise, offering powerful dark berry and kirsch flavors supported by substantial, velvety tannins. The fruit plows through the finish with superb energy, depth and clarity, fully absorbing the tannins. A big but wonderfully balanced example of Monte Bello, and sure to reward extended cellaring. "
Connoisseurs' Guide - "For more than three decades, Ridge Montebello Cabernets have generated their fair share of excitement in the market. In more years than not they challenge for top honors, and when the wine is good, as it is in this vintage, it is very good indeed. This bottling begins with deep and yet very mannerly aromas of cassis, pencil lead and violets and builds with complex, claret-like flavors that combine poise and richness. So finely fit as to be almost seamless, it has the balance and layering to invite a decade and more of cellaring."
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Ridge's history begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone, a doctor and prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. He planted vineyards and constructed a winery of redwood and native limestone in time to produce the first vintage of Monte Bello in 1892. The historic building now serves as the Ridge production facility.
Though Ridge began as a Cabernet winery, by the mid-60s it had produced several Zinfandels including the Geyserville. In 1972, Lytton Springs joined the line-up and the two came to represent an important part of Ridge production. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of Chardonnay since 1962.
The Ridge approach is straightforward: find the most intense and flavorful grapes, guide the natural process, draw all the fruit's richness into the wine. Decisions on when to pick, when to press, when to rack, what varietals and what parcels to include and when to bottle, are based on taste. To retain the nuances that increase complexity, Ridge winemakers handle the grapes and wine as gently as possible. There are no recipes, only attention and sensitivity. View all Ridge Vineyards Wines
About Santa Cruz MountainsView a map of Santa Cruz Mountains wineries
The Santa Cruz Mountain appellation encompasses the land between Half Moon Bay in the north and Mount Madonna (just near Monterey) in the south. Producing wine since the early 1800's, some of these wineries have been around for quite some time, mingling their vineyard lands with the sprawling redwood forests.
Notable FactsEven though the climate can be challenging, and only 1500 acres are under vine, over 50 wineries still operate successfully – and produce successful wine. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay do well in this region, along with a few plots of Cabernet Sauvignon. Hills, valleys and forests generate multiple micro-climates, creating a diverse flavor among the wines.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
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