This alternate selection from Ridge’s famed Monte Bello Vineyard proved controversial on our panel. Several tasters found it astringent and wondered if it would ever be approachable. Somewhat oblivious to their concerns, I described the wine as pretty, finding it classical in structure, claret-like in weight and plump with enough fruit to fill that structure. There’s black spice and minerality to the tannins that should sustain the juicy freshness as it ages.
Readers who can't (or don't want to!) wait for Ridge's Montebellos to hit their stride should consider the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. A gorgeous wine, the 2010 is laced with dark plum, black cherry, jasmine and crushed rocks aromas. Firm yet beautifully integrated tannins support the saline, crystalline finish.
(includes 17% merlot, 2% petit verdot and 1% cabernet franc): Opaque ruby. Bright aromas of dark berries, cherry pit and flowers pick up notes of pipe tobacco and smoky minerals with air. Juicy and precise on the palate, offering sweet blackcurrant and cherry flavors with suggestions of anise and mocha. Shows impressive energy on the finish, which is firmed by tangy acidity and a touch of bitter cherry.
If this wine is the little brother to the full-blooded Monte Bello Cabernet, it does a fine job of capturing the precise currant, loam, cola character for which that fancier bottling has become so rightfully famous. Its fruit is focused, its depth is admirable, its tannins are mannerly and its balance is so correct that there is simply nothing out of place here. It seems on its way to a half decade of service, but does offer plenty to like today as well. And its price adds to its attractiveness.
One of the lowest-alcohol prestige Cabs on the market, Ridge’s 2010 bottling is dry, softly tannic and light in body for a Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet it’s complex in flavor, offering tiers of blackberries, cherries, currants, herbs and spices. Wants some time, but not a lot. Drink 2015–2018.
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