The limestone ridge that is Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains was first planted by Italian immigrants in 1886. The first vintage was produced in 1892. Today, it produces one of California’s most distinct and collectable wines, Ridge Monte Bello, and its able lieutenant, Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The Estate Cabernet (called the “Santa Cruz Mountains” Cabernet until the 2008 vintage) is produced from a number of vineyard blocks that consistently yield a more accessible wine that develops its full complexity earlier than the namesake Monte Bello.
Fruit was hand-harvested, de-stemmed, and sorted. Lots entirely composed of whole berries were fermented by native yeast and pressed at six days. (The winery reduced whole berry fermentation time to accommodate the fast-paced harvest, but colour and tannin extraction were not compromised.) Malolactic fermentation occurred naturally. After tasting, the most approachable lots were selected at assemblage. The wine was then aged in American oak (70% new, 30% used) and bottled following 22 months maturation, once the tannins had softened. In keeping with the winery’s minimal intervention philosophy, the wine was handled, fined, and filtered as little as possible.
The 2015 is a ruby-tinged deep purple. On the nose, you’ll find notes of blackcurrant, cherries, clove spice, toasted oak, and cocoa. The palate has a ripe bramble fruit entry, medium-full body, supple tannins, and sweet oak. A firm acidity persists through the long, intense finish. It will show well over the next ten years.
“The production of this wine was only 3000 cases as compared with 6000 cases for the 2014. This is a WOW wine that is blended with 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc. The production is 3000 cases as compared with 6000 cases for the 2014. This Estate Cabernet Sauvignon has a dark colour and a deep perfume showing cassis and plum fruit with hints of cedar and a faint spice nuance. Lush and rounded with opulent fruit the wine has impeccable balance with a well-defined underlying structure and soft tannins. No question that this is a great Cabernet that will evolve and gain even more complexity over the next 20 or more years. And, in today’s Cabernet market this is a bargain.”
Outstanding Plus / Extraordinary, The Underground Wine Letter, May 2018
“Coming all from the estate Monte Bello Vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate checks in as a blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. I suspect it’s as good as many vintages of Monte Bello in the past and offers a gorgeous perfume of vanilla-tinged blackberries, blueberries, incense, cedar pencil, and bay leaf. Deep, medium to full-bodied, incredibly polished and perfectly balanced, with ultra-fine tannin, it’s a knockout bottle of Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon that will keep for two decades and be drinkable for all of it.”
94 points, JebDunnuck.com, June 2018
“Ridge’s 2015 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is incredibly refined and polished. In some vintages the Estate Cabernet needs time in bottle to be at its best. That is not the case with the 2015, which is sumptuous, open-knit and positively stunning in its beauty. Stylistically, the 2015 is decidedly on the riper, more sumptuous side of things for Ridge, and yet all the elements are impeccably balanced throughout. Soft tannins add to the wine’s considerable appeal. 2020-2030.”
92 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Aug 2018
“The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (which hails from the Monte Bello Vineyard) is already quite expressive, revealing aromas of blackcurrant, ripe cherries, cigar box and burning embers, framed by a judicious application of new oak. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple and nicely balanced, with fine-grained tannins, a good core of ripe fruit and a pure finish. While the Estate Cabernet is explicitly crafted to be approachable in its youth, this should be well worth following for the next 15 years. The 2015 blend is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc.”
92 points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, May 2018