The 2005 Monte Bello is beginning to drink very well indeed, revealing complex aromas of sweet currant fruit, rich soil, cedar cigar box and sweet spices. With time in the glass, nuances of dark chocolate and loamy soil emerge too. On the palate, the wine is medium to full-bodied, deep and concentrated, with fine-grained structuring tannins, the first signs of emerging savory nuance and a bright, beautifully focused finish. As it approaches age 13, the 2005 is still very youthful—indeed, this particular bottle was more reserved and taut than the last four or five that I've encountered—so there's certainly no rush to drink it. Cropped at just under one ton per acre, the 2005 is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc that attained 13.4% natural alcohol. (WK)
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)
(70% cabernet sauvignon, 22% merlot, 6% petit verdot and 2% cabernet franc) Deep ruby. Explosively perfumed nose offers a profound bouquet of ripe cherry, blackcurrant, yellow rose, Asian spices and vanilla bean; you could use this for incense. Deep and sweet but remarkably precise, offering powerful dark berry and kirsch flavors supported by substantial, velvety tannins. The fruit plows through the finish with superb energy, depth and clarity, fully absorbing the tannins. A big but wonderfully balanced example of Monte Bello, and sure to reward extended cellaring. (JR)
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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