Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2019
The Monte Bello vineyard, located only 15 miles from the Pacific Ocean, is part of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA, California’s coolest Cabernet Sauvignon producing area. At Ridge the team let this unique vineyard site create the wine rather than try to steer it toward a particular style in the cellar. They accomplish this through a combination of natural, low-tech, hands-off winemaking techniques: keeping all grape varieties and all parcels separate, fermenting in small fermentors using only natural yeasts, and transferring the separate lots into air-dried American oak barrels to undergo full, natural malolactic fermentation. At many points along the way, they taste each lot and assess its individual qualities. This selection process is crucial to creating Monte Bello, a wine that consistently reflects the character of the vineyard and not the whim of the winemaker. Monte Bello has often been called America’s First Growth, as it is the finest domestic example of a classic Bordeaux blend in which Cabernet Sauvignon predominates. Exhaustive tasting of test blends during the assemblage process determines how much, if any, Merlot, Petit Verdot, or Cabernet Franc will be included in the finished wine. Each grape variety makes a contribution to the flavour and structure of the wine - with Cabernet Sauvignon often showing cassis and adding tannin, Merlot giving plum character and a bit of softness, Petit Verdot contributing dark colour and earthiness, and Cabernet Franc adding fragrance and a hint of spice. Each vintage is different, but year after year Monte Bello proves to be a consistently outstanding wine with great structure, complexity, and balance. And, in terms of age worthiness, it has been known to lay down for several decades with elegance and ease. Ridge 2019 Monte Bello is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (82%). Merlot (9%), Petit Verdot (8%) and Cabernet Franc (1%). During blind tasting, a record forty-one separate lots were assembled to create this vintage of Monte Bello. Structured and opulent, it will be enjoyable for the next twenty-five to thirty years.