The cool 2011 season turned out a pristine vintage of Monte Bello, made from cabernet (88 percent) grown on a limestone-inflected ridge high above Silicon Valley, blended with some merlot and cabernet franc. The team at Ridge let the fruit recover for two weeks following an early October storm before picking, and were more aggressive in their extraction than normal, drawing as much color and structure as possible from the delicate fruit. The aromas revolve around oak at first—anise, wood smoke, cedar bark and cinnamon—but the wood’s contribution is fine and integrated, shading gradually toward bright fruit as the finish lengthens with floral aromas and the tang of tiny, concentrated black currants. It’s even better with a day of air, as the tannins turn to velvet, allowing red-fruited acidity to take the lead and brighten the wine’s savory, pungent sous bois tones of wet wood and forest mushrooms. Supremely elegant and polished, it’s a wine to put away and forget about for the next ten years or so. Its transparency it will suit game birds as much as beef.
The 2011 Monte Bello (87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc) emerges from the glass with tobacco, grilled herbs, smoke, incense and plums melding together in this soft, beautifully textured Monte Bello. The 2011 is a wine of exceptional textural finesse. The 100% new oak is totally integrated. In 2011, Ridge used a total of 18 of a possible 24 lots for the final blend. The presence of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon is the highest since the 1980s. I expect the 2011 to be a relatively early drinking Monte Bello, but time will be the judge. (AG)
I love the mineral, lead pencil and blackberry aromas and flavors in this. Full yet refined and ultra clean. Fantastic. Why wait on this?
Ridge's 2011 Monte Bello shows beautifully, even next to some of the more important vintages that are part of this vertical. Dark red cherry, plum, smoke, spices and graphite form an attractive core of flavors and textures. The 2011 is a bit slender and likely to mature earlier than some of the more structured vintages, but that only contributes to its near and medium-term accessibility. Hints of sage, lavender and black fruits add the final shades of nuance. This is one of the better showings of the 2011 from bottle. (AG)
This shows the cool aspect of the vintage, with more obvious maturity and a range of bay leaf, tobacco, singed sandalwood and perfume notes leading the way, while the core of fruit is mainly red in profile. The most drinkable of the young vintages currently, but there's no rush.—Non-blind Ridge Monte Bello vertical. (JM, Web Only-2019)
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