The product of a generous crop and a balmy vintage, the 1997 Monte Bello continues to show beautifully, wafting from the glass with an expressive bouquet of cassis, dried cherries, menthol and loamy soil, lavishly framed by new American oak. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, supple and open-knit, with largely melted tannins and a generous personality, which is all tied together by the bright thread of acidity that's such a signature of this site. Despite being seemingly fully mature, an open bottle held up beautifully over three days. (WK)
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)
Effortlessly successful. Salty and savoury with great balance and soft maturity. Really lifted with that characteristic balsam note. (18.5/20 points) (JR)
Tilts toward the cedary, dill-accented side of mature Cabernet, with touches of dusty berry, loamy earth and licorice. Still sufficiently tannic and sturdy enough to age further, yet the dryness is a reminder that this is ready to drink. (Blind 1997/2007 California Cabernet retrospective) (JL)
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