One of the highlights in this tasting, the 2016 Monte Bello has turned out just as beautifully as I hoped it would. Soaring aromatics, bright acids and mid-weight structure give the 2016 a super-classic feel. Clearly, the 2016 is very primary today, with plenty of bright red and purplish berry fruit. More than that, though, the 2016 pulses with energy and simply exceptional balance. Don't miss it! (AG)
Bottled in March of 2018 and a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, and the balance Cabernet Franc, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello offers a more streamlined, elegant, and ultra-classic style compared to the 2014 and 2015, which are slightly bigger, richer wines. Boasting a deep purple color and beautiful purity in its crème de cassis, blueberry, white flowers, and vanilla bean, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, silky tannins, and perfect balance. It doesn’t have the sheer depth of fruit of some of the blockbuster years, yet makes up for it with its incredible purity, poise, and balance. Relatively approachable for a Monte Bello, it’s still going to see its 30th birthday in fine form.
The 2016 Monte Bello is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc, aged 18 months in 100% new oak (98% American and 2% French). It has a medium to deep ruby color and is youthfully coiled, slowly developing scents of dark chocolate, pencil shavings, cedar, loamy soil, dried flowers, licorice, blackcurrant and black cherry with red berry sparks and exotic spices. The palate is full-bodied and youthfully firm, slowly unfolding with mineral-tinged fruits. It has a frame of firm, pixelated tannins and seamlessly woven acidity, finishing very long and full of latent layers. (EB)
A wine destined to evolve for decades, the 2016 is a muscular vintage of Monte Bello. That textural grandeur sets it apart from most contemporary California Cabernets; and part of that distinctive texture connects to the way grape-skin tannins mature on vines David Gates farms on this coastal limestone ridge. All of the parcels that contributed to this blend are certified organic, a practice that also sustains the health of the microbial population Eric Baugher relies on for the yeasts that ferment this wine. It is increasingly rare to find Cabernet Sauvignon produced at commercial quantities anywhere in the world that does not rely on commercial yeasts; and whether or not you believe this is significant to the flavor and complexity of the wine, it is, in a real sense, a reflection of the health of the farming practice. If you are interested in a strapping young Cabernet, infused with the kind of energy that health sustains, the 2016 Monte Bello is a wine for your cellar. It’s concentrated with flavors of fresh blackberries and blueberries; there’s a molasses note, perhaps from the new American oak barrels in which the wine aged, but the density of the wine itself mutes any overt oak influence. The high ridges of the Santa Cruz Mountains provide an awesome view of the Pacific coast, and this wine has the potential to inspire the same sort of awe.
This is tight as a drum today, with a rigid frame of singed apple wood and cedar around a core of dark currant, fig and blackberry reduction notes. A racy iron streak and riveting acidity drive the finish, which is loaded with bay leaf, violet, sage, charcoal and tobacco details. Expands steadily in the glass with air, but this isn’t meant for consumption today. (JM)
A refined, creamy red with currant, fresh-mushroom, tree-bark and light dried-tobacco character. Medium body. Firm and lightly chewy. Linear and racy red. Very tight. 72% cabernet sauvignon, 12% merlot, 10% petit verdot and 6% cabernet franc. Drink after 2023.
Darkest crimson with black core. So intense the fruit seems to engulf you. Deep, deeply sweet with that American oak spice. Thickly sweetly textured but the tannins are very fine. Last year of the drought so very small yields. Dark and pure and overwhelming in its purity. A beautiful baby. Fresh on the finish, remarkably. (JH) 19++/20 points
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