Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 1996
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|Region||California, Central Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains|
The most aromatically exotic vintage of the decade, the 1996 Monte Bello is superb, bursting from the glass with an extravagant bouquet of cassis, cigar box, rich soil, roasted meats and decadent oriental spices. On the palate, it's medium to full-bodied, richly tannic and very intense, with a deep and tight-knit core and a bright line of acidity, concluding with a long, youthful finish. The 1996 vintage saw rain during flowering-which reduced yields at this address to less than one ton per acre-followed by a warm summer. The result is a super concentrated Monte Bello that hasn't even reached its plateau of maturity yet. Choosing between this and the formidable 1995 will always be a challenge, but I suspect the 1996 has the greater upside. The blend consists of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 9% Petit Verdot, attaining 13.2% alcohol.
A quite complex and dense Monte Bello, if a bit stern and rustic up front, revealing rich and concentrated pepper and wild berry flavors, turning earthy and cedary, with a long, rich and tannic finish. Best from 2002 through 2016.