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Ridge Monte Bello 1992

Bordeaux Red Blends from California
  • RP100
13.4% ABV
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13.4% ABV

Winemaker Notes

After late spring rains, mild weather allowed the vines to set a full crop. For concentration, we dropped a third of the clusters. A perfect summer and warm October gave mature fruit and firm acidity. At assemblage, forty per-cent of the wine made from the twenty distinct vineyard blocks was held out as less intense. In a decade of exceptional vintages, this may be one of the very finest. Despite substantial tannin, the wine is supple, balanced, and accessible. It will continue to evolve in depth and complexity over the next twenty years.

Blend: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot

Critical Acclaim

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RP 100
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
This was a magical showing for the 1992 Monte Bello—and the best bottle I've ever encountered. At age 26, the wine is still stunningly vibrant and youthful, bursting from the glass with a classic bouquet of cassis, blackberries, black truffles, gravelly soil and pencil shavings. On the palate, it's full-bodied, multidimensional and utterly complete, with superb concentration and energy, its richly layered mid-palate framed by fine-grained, satiny tannins, concluding with a long, sapid finish. Above all, it stands out for its seamless balance and delineation. While for many years the more flashy and dramatic 1991 stole the limelight, as the dust settles, the deeper, more complex 1992 has emerged as the greater wine and one of Ridge's true classics. The product of an October harvest after extensive crop thinning, it's a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot that attained 13.4% natural alcohol.
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Ridge
Ridge, California
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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.

California

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Responsible for the vast majority of American wine production, if California were a country, it would be the world’s fourth largest wine-producing nation. The state’s diverse terrain and microclimates allow for an incredible range of wine styles, and unlike tradition-bound Europe, experimentation is more than welcome here. Wineries range from tiny, family-owned boutiques to massive corporations, and price and production are equally varied. Plenty of inexpensive bulk wine is made in the Central Valley area, while Napa Valley is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and expensive “cult” wines.

Each American Viticultural Area (AVA) and sub-AVA of has its own distinct personality, allowing California to produce wine of every fashion: from bone dry to unctuously sweet, still to sparkling, light and fresh to rich and full-bodied. In the Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc dominate vineyard acreage. Sonoma County is best known for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. The Central Coast has carved out a niche with Rhône Blends blends based on Grenache and Syrah, while Mendocino has found success with cool climate varieties such as Pinot noir, Riesling and Gewürztraminer. With all the diversity that California has to offer, any wine lover will find something to get excited about here.

Bordeaux Blends

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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, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

FRO427923_1992 Item# 427923