LCBO Vintages Classics Collection
“Ridge remains one of the finest operations I visit anywhere in the world. The total commitment to quality, value, and customer service simply has no equal in this country.”
Antonio Galloni on Ridge Vineyards, vinous.com, July 2015
The first Monte Bello vineyards, high in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California’s Central Coast, were planted in 1886. Winery construction had begun, and the first vintage from the young vines followed in 1892. During the Prohibition years of the 1920’s, the vineyard was not fully maintained. While some vines survived into the late 1930’s, by the 1940’s they had been all but abandoned. Eight acres of Cabernet was replanted by the end of the decade – these new vines were to yield the first vintage of Ridge Monte Bello in 1962. They were the source of subsequent vintages until 1974, when younger, more recently planted blocks were considered mature enough for inclusion. Since then, the historic vineyards on the ridge have gradually been replanted. Each vintage, each addition to the Monte Bello story, is an attempt to carry the the soil, the microclimate, the terroir into the wine. To gain a true sense of place.
The 2014 Monte Bello is an elegant wine, showing intense fruit, limestone earth, and firm acidity. This was a dry year that, against the odds, yielded a crop of decent size.
Monte Bello fruit is sustainably-farmed and handled with minimal intervention in the cellar. The winery is at the forefront of what they call “pre-industrial winemaking”: they have employed the same techniques for the last 50 years, the starting point for which is always great fruit from great vineyards. The 2014 release brings together 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. Fruit was hand-harvested from 19 of the 26 parcels that make up the Monte Bello site. All bunches were de-stemmed and sorted twice prior to fermentation, 100% whole berries. Lots were fermented by native yeast and pressed after ten days before going through natural malolactic fermentation. The wine was transferred to new oak, almost entirely American, where it matured for 17 months. The finished wine was bottled with the addition of minimal sulfur.
“The 2014 Monte Bello is bright, precise and finely sculpted throughout, with a slightly more reddish leaning flavor profile than is found in some of the surrounding vintages. In 2014, Monte Bello is built on bright, pulsating acidity and energy. Relative to recent vintages such as 2012, 2013 and 2015, the 2014 is a bit compact and tightly wound. The slightly nervous style is likely to require at least a decade to be fully appreciated. In 2014, the blend is more typical of Monte Bello than the Cabernet-dominated 2013, with a greater role for Merlot and other complementary grapes. The only real issue with the 2014 is that it is sandwiched between two truly epic vintages. Drink 2026-2044.”
96 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, July 2016
“Tasted from barrel, the 2014 Monte Bello comes across as super-classic and at times even a bit austere, with considerable tannin and overall intensity. Some vintages of Monte Bello can offer pleasure relatively early. The 2014 does not appear to be one of them. Today, the 2014 is extremely tannic, with inky flavors and quite a bit of underlying structure. Needless to say the 2014 is going to be fascinating to follow, as it appears to have a very bright future. I tasted the 2014 from a representative blend in barrel. Two thousand fourteen was marked by a very early bud-break and harvest. For only the second time in fifty years the Cabernet Sauvignon was brought in starting at the end of September and was done by the end of the month, whereas in a normal year, the harvest stretches to the end of October. The days were long at Ridge, as Cabernet and Zinfandel were harvested around the same time, which is quite unusual.Winemakers Paul Draper and Eric Baugher add that Cabernet Sauvignon was favored over Merlot and Petit Verdot, both of which struggled.”
(94-97) points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, July 2015