LCBO Vintages Release
The limestone ridge that is Monte Bello Vineyard 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.
Ridge’s 2013 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is an exceptional wine: Wine & Spirits magazine named it the second best American Cabernet of 2016. The vintage, following the second year of drought, was unusual, from budbreak in February to the winery’s earliest September harvest in 50 years. The crop, sustainably grown, as with all of Ridge’s vineyards, was small and intense. Fruit was sorted and de-stemmed, then fermented as whole berries by native yeast. To balance the intensity of the fruit, it was pressed off the skins at only five days. The wine initiated malolactic fermentation in tank, then finished in barrel with an additional 18 weeks of lees contact before transfer to American oak (half new, half used) for twenty months aging.
The 2013 is a ruby-tinged opaque purple. On the nose, you’ll find notes of ripe blackberry, cassis, violets, espresso, dark chocolate, and caramelized sugar. The palate opens with concentrated briar fruit, the full body and chalky tannins layered with liquorice, cola, and sweet oak. A complex limestone minerality carries through a long, intense finish.
“Ridge’s Estate Cabernet is usually a bit chunkier and broader than the Monte Bello blend, rarely as pure and elegant. If that’s the case in 2013, the Monte Bello is going to be a wine for the ages, because the Estate Cabernet is stellar. It catches the savoury nuances of fruit grown at altitude in aromas of cassis and cedar bark, holding that fruit in a matrix of fine limestone grown tannins and vibrant acidity. That acidity drives a compressed, unstoppable arrow of flavour that’s tense and a bit backward, as a great young Cabernet should be. Treat this like Monte Bello proper – don’t think about touching it until its tenth birthday.”
95 points, Wine & Spirits, Oct 2016
“Ridge’s 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is fabulous. Beams of tannin and acidity make a strong opening statement, but there is more than enough fruit to fill out the wine’s frame. This is an especially dark, virile Estate. Then again, that is 2013. Inky blue/purplish fruit, licorice, sage, exotic spices and lavender grace the exquisite finish. This is an absolutely delicious mountain Cabernet endowed with real pedigree and class. It is also arguably the single greatest value in California Cabernet Sauvignon. 2021-2038”
94 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, July 2016
“The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello Vineyard Estate is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It tips the scales at 13.8% alcohol. (Newly retired winemaker Paul Draper said on the back label that it was the first time in nearly 50 years that harvest took place in September rather than October.) Deep briary blackcurrant and black cherry fruit, with some light to moderate tannin are present in this dark ruby/purple-hued wine. It is medium-bodied and shows good structure, freshness and purity, with the oak clearly pushed to the background. This excellent Cabernet Sauvignon should age nicely for 10-12+ years.”
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, Aug 2016
“Pure and refined, showing a sleek delivery of juicy blackberry, currant, toasty oak and dried herb flavours, with crushed rock minerality and a long, balanced finish that brings you back for another sip. Drink now through 2026. 3,250 cases made.”
92 points, Wine Spectator, Oct 2016