The 2009 Monte Bello ,72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot is simply magnificent. Layers of dark red fruit, flowers, spices and graphite are all woven together in this utterly impeccable wine. The 2009 is an especially huge, intense Monte Bello, yet a sexy, silky core of fruit lies within its imposing frame. Everything comes together in this glorious, radiant wine. Last year the 2009 had some pretty stiff competition from the 2010, but today it is simply firing on all cylinders. Eric Baugher describes 2009 as a year with cold weather early on, followed by heat in early June and July. The fruit was brought in on October 12, just before an intense downpour swept through the region. There is a purity and silkiness supported by structure in the 2009 that is impossible not to admire. Simply put, this is another utterly magnificent, towering masterpiece from Ridge. Anticipated maturity: 2019-2049. (AG)
(72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 6% Petit Verdot): Opaque ruby. Assertive redcurrant, cherry and pipe tobacco aromas, with suave floral and mineral notes gaining strength with air. Fresh and precise, offering deeply concentrated red berry and bitter cherry flavors, a supple texture and slow-building sweetness. Becomes more exotically floral with air, finishing sappy and long, with excellent clarity and gentle tannic grip. An extremely promising young Monte Bello that smoothly melds power and vivacity. (JR)
Ridge has quietly been making world-class Cabernets for some forty years and, from the beginning, they have been balanced wines that have emphasized beauty over brawn. This latest is a deep and wonderfully refined working that teams a wealth of precise varietal fruit with suggestions of fresh loam, briar, black tea and a very complementary measure of mildly vanillin oak. Make no mistake, this is by no means a "light" wine, and despite being so well-crafted as to be almost seamless, it needs several years of age before even starting to hit its stride, and it is guaranteed to continue to grow for a generation. *Three Stars*
*#4 on the Top 100 Wines of 2012, Cellar Selection* This Cabernet-Merlot blend is packed with blackberry and crème de cassis, with a firm minerality. With the weight of the middle palate and the long, spicy finish, it’s especially attractive, although it's also quite tannic. The only difference between this Estate Monte Bello Cabernet and Ridge's Monte Bello Estate Cabernet ($150; note the difference in the placement of "estate") is that the winemaker selected lots from the vineyard that were considered more accessible, which in this case means more luscious. Despite its many charms, the wine should age for a long time.
Taut and structured, with cedar-laced currant, dark berry and dried berry notes joining a mix of mineral-laced fresh earth and tobacco flavors, offering a wide range of tight-knit fruit overall. Firmly tannic on the finish, yet the ripe purity pushes through. True-to-form Monte Bello in a classic style. *Top 100 Wines of 2012, Collectibles* (JL)
A relatively dry growing season and a cool fall produced this Monte Bello’s austere power and grace. It’s a substantial wine based on bright, mountain-grown fruit, lush strawberry and red currant flavors that track the energy of the tannins. There’s a savory earth tone underneath, complexity built into the tannins that will develop over the next decade. For now, the new oak is prominent; give this time to realize its full beauty.
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot. This wine and Silver Oak are the only ones in this line up that use US oak. Here it has been air dried for 2-3 years and most of the barrels are 200 litres. Vines at 1500 ft at least. Greenstone mixed with clay over fractured limestone. Cabernet planted at different times, from 1949 to 1993. Inky black. Dark and coaly on the nose. Mouthwatering, dark, savoury, tarry cassis but there's also a pine/cedary and garrigue note from the site. Smoky, complex and concentrated. Even though it is so dark and intense, it is juicy on the finish. Some spice but not overly oaky even now. Incredibly firmly structured but no hardness and still has a freshness. Finishes with great fruit purity. Going back, lovely, lively peppery note. Hint of mocha on the very end. 18+/20 points. (JH)
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