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 2016 Monte Bello is an elegant wine, showing intense fruit, limestone earth, and firm acidity. This superb vintage will age beautifully over the next thirty years.
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 2016 release brings together 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc. Fruit was hand-harvested from 23 of the 25 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 seven days before going through natural malolactic fermentation. The wine was transferred to new oak, almost entirely American, where it matured for 18 months. The finished wine was bottled with the addition of minimal sulfur.
“The 2016 Monte Bello is stunning, bursting from the glass with aromas of crushed currants, plums, charcoal, sweet spices, black truffle and rich soil. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, immensely deep and very concentrated, with an ample core of dark fruit that almost entirely conceals its rich chassis of tannin. The finish is long, tensile and chalky. Eric Baugher observes that 2016 was a drought year but that the vines were less stressed than in 2015, thanks to Spring precipitation, and it wasn’t necessary to irrigate. Summer saw wild temperature swings, and though it was below average in summation, some days were very warm. The final Monte Bello blend contains 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc, which represents a slight change from when I tasted it a year ago, though its profile remains very much the same. The 2016 checks in at 13.8% alcohol and pH 3.49. Cellar it for a decade and follow it for another three.”
(96-98+) points, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, May 2018
“The 2016 Monte Bello is stunningly beautiful. Medium in body, gracious and understated, the 2016 is a Monte Bello that is built on total finesse. Red cherry jam, raspberry jam, menthol and rose petal all grace this exquisite, vivid Monte Bello. All the elements are simply in the right place. The 2016 is not an obvious Monte Bello, but it is supremely gorgeous. At times, the sensation of tannins is non-existent. The persistent, crystalline finish is one thing of beauty.”
(95-98) points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Aug 2018
“Bottled in March of 2018 and a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello offers a more streamlined, elegant, and ultra-classic style compared to the 2014 and 2015, which are slightly bigger, richer wines. Boasting a deep purple colour and beautiful purity in its crème de cassis, blueberry, white flowers, and vanilla bean, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannins, and perfect balance. It doesn’t have the sheer depth of fruit of some of the blockbuster years, yet makes up for it with its incredible purity, poise, and balance. Relatively approachable for a Monte Bello, it’s still going to see its 30th birthday in fine form.”
97 points, JebDunnuck.com, Feb 2019