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Ridge Monte Bello 2001

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • RP99
  • WE97
  • WS95
14.2% ABV
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14.2% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The Monte Bello (originally Monte Bello Cabernet; until 1975, 100% cabernet) is the wine that introduced Ridge to the world, and the world to Ridge. It is a blend of bordeaux varietals. Cabernet sauvignon still predominates; exhaustive tasting of test blends during assemblage determines how much—if any—merlot, petit verdot, or cabernet franc will be included in the finished wine. Almost every vintage (an unbroken chain from '62 on) has something substantive to recommend it. Every decade has its high points. Taste and opinions differ. But the just-concluded decade of the nineties has been outstanding. Generalization does a disservice to the individual wines. There's structure, there's complexity, there's balance. And they develop for a long, long time.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
RP 99
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
A resoundingly great effort from this iconic producer, Ridge’s 2001 is a spectacular, still young but promising wine. Interestingly, 60% of the production from the winery’s 108 acre Monte Bello Vineyard made it into the 2001’s final blend (their 40th anniversary, by the way). The unusual blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, a whopping 36% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. It also carries 14.2% alcohol, which is high for this estate. On the back label, the conservative Paul Draper writes that “5-8 years of bottle age will bring generous rewards, and 20 years will bring full maturity.” At age 10, it is still an infant in terms of development, and I would not be surprised to see this 2001 last 40 years. A dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by extravagant, generous aromas of pen ink, lead pencil shavings, spice box and black fruits. The wine is full-bodied and silky textured, but secondary nuances have not yet begun to develop as it is still very primary, tasting more like a 3-4 year old Monte Bello than one that is ten years of age. Nevertheless, it reveals spectacular concentration, a voluptuous texture, a rare opulence for a Ridge Monte Bello, and an incredible finish. The upside is enormous and this cuvee may prove somewhat atypical due to the huge percentage of Merlot in the final blend and the higher than normal alcohol. But make no mistake about this Monte Bello – it is a great wine. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2040.
WE 97
Wine Enthusiast
Without doubt this is a wine to cellar. It’s massive in flavor, with the purist blackcurrant and cassis fruit you can imagine, and the huge plaster of sweet oak is perfectly balanced. Then there are the tannins. They’re fine and complex, but gritty. There’s an astringency throughout that a great steak will cut through, but it would be infanticide to open this before, say, 2010. Should improve through 2020 and beyond. Cellar Selection.
WS 95
Wine Spectator
Gorgeous. Dense, rich and concentrated, with a tight core of blackberry and wild berry with floral and berry jam touches. Tight yet expressive, softening ever so slightly and ending with a persistent push of mineral and berry. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
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Ridge
Ridge, Napa Valley, 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.

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Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.

The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

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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.

LHM81440_2001 Item# 81440