Ridge Monte Bello (1.5 Liter Magnum - stained label) 2003 Front Label
Ridge Monte Bello (1.5 Liter Magnum - stained label) 2003 Front LabelRidge Monte Bello (1.5 Liter Magnum - stained label) 2003  Front Bottle Shot

Ridge Monte Bello (1.5 Liter Magnum - stained label) 2003

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  • W&S92
1500ML / 0% ABV
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1500ML / 0% ABV

Winemaker Notes

This elegant Monte Bello is a beautifully balanced wine. It will enter a more complex stage after ten years, and continue to evolve throughout a second decade.

Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
One of the smallest crops to be included in the Ridge Monte Bello, only 32% of the production made it into the 2003, which is largely Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and the rest Merlot and Petit Verdot. Out of barrel as well as post-bottling I liked this wine a lot, and it has changed very little from when I last tasted it in February, 2010. It boasts an inky/blue/purple color along with sweet black currant, blueberry, graphite, licorice and toasty vanillin aromas. The tannins are still noticeable in this full-bodied 2003, but seem reasonably well-integrated. Forget this wine for another decade and drink it over the following 30+ years.

I don’t know who keeps saying that Ridge does not use a lot of new oak or the wines are not oaky, but they are. This 2003 reveals enormous oak (as most young vintages do), but the folks at Ridge expect you to lay it away for 20-25 years, which is often the minimum amount of time necessary for these mountain vineyard Monte Bellos to be drinkable. I recently had the astonishing 1968 Monte Bello in early May, which did not reveal a sign of oak, but was incredibly youthful at age 45. There is no way to know how long these wines can last in top vintages.
Rating: 94+

W&S 92
Wine & Spirits
The elegant structure of Monte Bello cabernet comes through in the 2003 bottling, built on mineral tannins, from vines grown in limestone. The fruit is completely black (it hints at blueberry as it takes on air), but the wine is not hyperripe. Structure supports it and lengthens the flavors; the lasting impression is clean and refreshing, which is something you can't say about most Napa Valley cabernets from '03.
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Ridge

Ridge

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Ridge, California
Ridge Ridge Winery Video

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.

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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.

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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.

SOU145821_2003 Item# 254496

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