Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2017
|Region||California, Central Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains|
Pure perfection, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello is a sensational effort from this estate that should be snatched up by drinkers and collectors. Based on 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, and the rest Cabernet Franc that was brought up mostly in new American oak, this saturated purple-hued beauty is legendary Monte Bello in the making and has a stunning yet primordial bouquet of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, graphite, chocolate, and chalky minerality. Full-bodied, incredibly powerful, and one of the most concentrated versions of this cuvée ever made (I've had most of them), it needs a solid decade of bottle age and will have 50-60 years of overall longevity. Despite the long drinking window, it offers plenty of pleasure even today. I followed this bottle for two days and it showed best right out of the gate, closing down and becoming more brooding and backward with air. It's an incredible wine that I promise you won't regret having in your cellar.
Destined to rank as one of the all-time greats from Ridge, the 2017 Monte Bello opens in the glass with youthfully complex notes of ripe plums, cassis, espresso roast and black truffles, with little apparent trace of its time in 100% new oak. On the palate, it's full-bodied and incredibly concentrated, with a rich, layered mid-palate and immense substance that marks it out as the most richly tannic Monte Bello since 2013. As ever, the acids are vibrant, with a classic pH of around 3.5-notably lower than most Cabernet Sauvignons from contemporary Bordeaux or Napa Valley, thanks to this site's limestone soils and high altitude. At the time of writing, the blend is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 6% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc, though that may change by the time it's bottled. Eric Baugher observes that fermentations were slow in 2017, which protracted the period of extraction, partially accounting for this vintage's power. It's still a baby, but this is a strong contender for a perfect score when it's bottled in over a year's time-and it should see out its 50th birthday in style.
The 2017 Monte Bello continues to develop beautifully. A heady, opulent wine, the 2017 also has tons of supporting structure to balance things out. Layers of dark red/purplish fruit give the 2017 remarkable primary intensity, with hints of licorice, mocha, dried flowers and menthol that build over time, hinting at the wine's ultimate potential. Sensual and exotic, but with plenty of tannic clout, the 2017 has a very bright future. Today, it is decidedly explosive. In 2017, the berries were small, and that high skin-to-juice ratio yielded a Monte Bello that is quite imposing in the early going.
Distinctive, with vibrant violet, juniper and anise notes out front, backed by a core of intense dark currant, plum and cherry fruit. Firmly grounded, showing serious cut and drive through the bay leaf- and sage-accented finish, which sports ample toast alongside the fruit and floral elements. A chiseled, ripped Cabernet for the cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2023 through 2040. 3,750 cases made.