A vintage that had big yields and a hectic harvest, the 1997 Monte Bello is a sexy, supple and layered beauty that's drinking beautifully today. Cassis, toasted spice, cigar and dried herbs all flow nicely to a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon that has solid textured, good mid-palate depth and still present tannin. I thought the tannin could be cause for concern at first, but they sweetened up with time in the glass; nevertheless, I see no need to delay gratification and would drink while the getting is good. (JD)
Full deep ruby to the rim. Superripe aromas remain just this side of surmaturite: black plum, black cherry, roast coffee, dark chocolate, menthol. (I might have picked this blind as ripe-year St. Julien.) Great lushness and depth on the palate; pliant, seamless and thoroughly ripe, but with strong supporting structure under the seductive flesh. Finishes with noble, broad tannins and great freshness; mint and licorice notes contribute to the impression of grip and snap. The crop level was 2.5 tons per acre, which Draper says was the highest ever at this estate, and the alcohol is 12.9%, on the high side for Monte Bello. Another outstanding vintage for this wine. 94+ Points (ST)
(12.9% alcohol; aged for 18 months in new American oak; a 45% selection for the estate's grand vin): Bright, dark red-ruby. Sexy, lifted aromas of cassis, redcurrant, licorice, tree bark, mint and roasted herbs. Intensely flavored and surprisingly firm and energetic, with sweet plum, currant, tobacco and earth flavors lingering through a persistent finish. Tannins are firm and dusty but fine-grained. There's nothing at all over the top about this midweight, focused, juicy wine. Was it fleshier five years ago? In any event, it's still juicy and lively today. (ST)
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