While in a good year there's normally 4,000 cases of the Monte Bello, there was a scant 2,200 cases produced of the 2005 Monte Bello. Thick, massive, and concentrated with ample currants, lead pencil, licorice and chocolate aromas and flavors, this full-bodied beauty is just now at the early stages of adolescence, and has plenty of underlying tannic grip still present. It should hit full maturity in another 4-5 years and hold for 2-3 decades after that. (JD)
The vines at Ridge's Monte Bello estate vineyard, at altitudes from 1,300 to 2,660 feet above the Pacific, consistently produce one of the greatest Cabernet Sauvignons in California. In 2005, a cold, wet spring cut yields to one ton per acre, the lowest level in ten years. The summer and fall ripened that small crop into something extraordinary. That season highlighted the factors that distinguish this wine: the maturity of the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, some that date to 1949; the limestone subsoils that sustain the vines without irrigation; the native yeast fermentations and the skill of the blending team, which selected half of the production for this final blend (in addition to 70 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, it includes Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc). It tastes like an authentic California wine, with the flavor of mountain-grown fruit-tiny berries, very dark in color and not a lot of them. The tannins have the intensity of wild blueberries, a soft power that's friendly rather than austere. Its fresh, bright floral aspects combine seamlessly with the structure, pointing up the wine's youthful beauty. The moderate alcohol (13.4 percent) is just one more factor that predicts a long life ahead for this wine.
Ridge's 2005 Monte Bello is beginning to show the first signs of aromatic development, although it has more than enough depth and density to drink well for another twenty years. Tobacco, cedar, leather, spice and menthol add considerable nuance. The tannins are nicely resolved, which makes the 2005 an excellent choice for current drinking. The 2005 is not a blockbuster, but it is super-polished and refined, with an almost exotic sense of ripeness from the warm, dry summer and low yields of that year. (AG)
Good dark red. Inviting aromas of dark berries, violet, spices, minerals and leather. Wonderfully suave, savory and focused, conveying terrific energy to its dark berry, black cherry and spice flavors. With its piercing definition and lower alcohol, this wine stood out from a flight of Cabernets from Napa Valley. The wine's acid support and firm tannins give it terrific structure for a long evolution in bottle. Finishes very long, with superb energy and lift. I'd still hold this for at least a few more years. (ST) 94+
For more than three decades, Ridge Montebello Cabernets have generated their fair share of excitement in the market. In more years than not they challenge for top honors, and when the wine is good, as it is in this vintage, it is very good indeed. This bottling begins with deep and yet very mannerly aromas of cassis, pencil lead and violets and builds with complex, claret-like flavors that combine poise and richness. So finely fit as to be almost seamless, it has the balance and layering to invite a decade and more of cellaring. *Two Stars*
Looks so healthy. Sweetly ripe but great balance. Red-pepper powder -- paprika. Dusty. But great fluidity. 18.5/20 points (JR)
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