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Ridge Monte Bello 2012

Bordeaux Red Blends from Santa Cruz Mountains, California
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  • W&S93
13.8% ABV
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5.0 2 Ratings
13.8% ABV

Winemaker Notes

#7 Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2016

The Monte Bello vineyard, situated a mere 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, sits high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, California's coolest cabernet producing area. It is underlain by decomposing limestone, which is not found in the well-known Cabernet producing areas of Napa and Sonoma, making the soil composition at Monte Bello a unique and important contributor to the wine's distinctive character.

Blend: 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot

Critical Acclaim

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RP 94
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Inky colored, the sensational 2012 Monte Bello comes all from the Santa Cruz Mountains and is a blend of 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot. It's backwards and tight, with classic black cherry, crushed violets, cassis, espresso roast and crème brulee notes all flowing seamlessly to a full-bodied, concentrated, structured and layered Bordeaux blend that has bright acidity, a stacked mid-palate and firm tannin. It needs 5-6 years of cellaring and will hold for two decades beyond that.
Rating: 94+
WS 94
Wine Spectator
Beautifully structured, with firm acidity and tannins that show grip amid a core of dense currant and blackberry fruit, turning juicy. This is classic old-school Cabernet. Cellaring for five to seven years is the right approach. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Best from 2020 through 2035.
W&S 93
Wine & Spirits
This vintage of Monte Bello includes a fairly high proportion of merlot—22 percent—which, along with the warmth of the 2012 vintage, gives the wine an unusually lush, open, velvety texture in its youth. Still, it’s not a wine to drink now. A layer of stony tannins tugs at the fruit, pulling mouthwatering blackberry and cedar flavors back into the wine’s structure and holding them at a distance. Bright mountain-grown acidity will support the 2012 well as it ages. This should hit its stride in another eight or ten years.
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Ridge
Ridge, Santa Cruz Mountains, 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.

Santa Cruz Mountains

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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 to just above Monterey county. Elevation ranges from just 800 feet to upwards of 3000, and microclimates vary substantially depending on which side of the mountains the vineyards lay. Cool ocean winds and fog play an important role as well. This can be a challenging region in which to grow grapes, but it is well worth the effort. 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, and Merlot and Zinfandel also perform quite well. Santa Cruz Mountains wines are noted for their distinct minerality and balanced acidity. Often these wines can be aged for many years. Organic and sustainable vineyard practices are becoming increasingly common.

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/or 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 can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can 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, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

HYM134411_2012 Item# 134411