Ridge Monte Bello (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2016
Opaque purple-ruby color. Ripe blackberry fruit, barrel spice, anise, violets, and crushed limestone. Opulent mountain fruit entry, firm acid, and fine-grain, age-worthy tannins. Powerful complexity and tremendous length to the finish.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2016 Monte Bello is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in 100% new oak (98% American and 2% French). It has a medium to deep ruby color and is youthfully coiled, slowly developing scents of dark chocolate, pencil shavings, cedar, loamy soil, dried flowers, licorice, blackcurrant and black cherry with red berry sparks and exotic spices. The palate is full-bodied and youthfully firm, slowly unfolding with mineral-tinged fruits. It has a frame of firm, pixelated tannins and seamlessly woven acidity, finishing very long and full of latent layers.
A wine destined to evolve for decades, the 2016 is a muscular vintage of Monte Bello. That textural grandeur sets it apart from most contemporary California cabernets; and part of that distinctive texture connects to the way grape-skin tannins mature on vines David Gates farms on this coastal limestone ridge. All of the parcels that contributed to this blend are certified organic, a practice that also sustains the health of the microbial population Eric Baugher relies on for the yeasts that ferment this wine. It is increasingly rare to find cabernet sauvignon produced at commercial quantities anywhere in the world that does not rely on commercial yeasts; and whether or not you believe this is significant to the flavor and complexity of the wine, it is, in a real sense, a reflection of the health of the farming practice. If you are interested in a strapping young cabernet, infused with the kind of energy that health sustains, the 2016 Monte Bello is a wine for your cellar.
A refined, creamy red with currant, fresh-mushroom, tree-bark and light dried-tobacco character. Medium body. Firm and lightly chewy. Linear and racy red. Very tight. 72% cabernet sauvignon, 12% merlot, 10% petit verdot and 6% cabernet franc. Drink after 2023.
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.
A rugged and topographically diverse cool-climate appellation with a rich history, the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA stretches from Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, to the northern border of Monterey County. Elevations range from 800 feet to upwards of 3,000 and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lie; cool ocean winds and fog play an important role here. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for balanced acidity levels, often showing great aging potential. Wine has been made here since the 1800s, most notably from the legendary Ridge Vineyards, whose Monte Bello vineyard garners international admiration.
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the stars of this region, while Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.