One of the smallest crops to be included in the Ridge Monte Bello, only 32% of the production made it into the 2003, which is largely Cabernet Sauvignon (85%) and the rest Merlot and Petit Verdot. Out of barrel as well as post-bottling I liked this wine a lot, and it has changed very little from when I last tasted it in February, 2010. It boasts an inky/blue/purple color along with sweet black currant, blueberry, graphite, licorice and toasty vanillin aromas. The tannins are still noticeable in this full-bodied 2003, but seem reasonably well-integrated. Forget this wine for another decade and drink it over the following 30+ years. (RP) 94+
Full ruby-red. Knockout nose offers blackberry, currant, plum, cedar, minerals and dark chocolate. Fresh, succulent and quite firm in the mouth, with brisk acids and a minty nuance lifting the dark berry and chocolate flavors. Finishes with chewy tannins that come across as a bit less harmonious than those of the young 2004. But this youthfully closed wine grew sweeter with aeration. (ST) 92+
The elegant structure of Monte Bello Cabernet comes through in the 2003 bottling, built on mineral tannins, from vines grown in limestone. The fruit is completely black (it hints at blueberry as it takes on air), but the wine is not hyperripe. Structure supports it and lengthens the flavors; the lasting impression is clean and refreshing, which is something you can't say about most Napa Valley Cabernets from '03.
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