Ridge Monte Bello Vertical | 1995 to 2013 | A Californian Icon

Written By

March 16th 2017

Of all the iconic Californian wines, few excite more than Ridge Monte Bello. We are delighted to have sourced some rare back vintages from this flagship vineyard.

Since its inception in the late 1960s Monte Bello and its visionary wine maker Paul Draper have established a reputation for making classic, restrained, ‘Old World styled’ wine. Located in the Santa Cruz Mountains it stands apart from the Napa Valley’s intensely competitive and at times prescriptive culture. Ridge has resisted the fashion for making increasingly powerful, concentrated high alcohol wines. Instead Monte Bello has always shown great beauty, a graceful consistency and reined-in power; an exquisite fusion of the best of old and new world.

Stylistic comparisons have been drawn with Bordeaux’s leading estates. However, compared to Bordeaux First Growths, or other leading Napa icons, Ridge Monte Bello’s value is hard to ignore, especially when you note that the average annual production is around 3,000 cases, 30% of which never leave the US.

Limited availability allied with uncompromising winemaking make for a heady combination. For those who have not experienced the beauty of this iconic Cabernet, and with the legend Draper having retired in 2015, we are very excited to give you the opportunity to own a slice of Monte Bello history.

“If the United States had a formal classification of estates, Ridge would be the equivalent of a First Growth. Since the late 1960s, Ridge has produced world-class wines that can compete with the best from anywhere” Antonio Galloni

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1995 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz (non OC)
1 cs of six bottles @ £1,000.00 per 6 IB

Readers who can latch on to a few bottles of Ridge’s 1995 Monte Bello, which is being re-released this year, should not hesitate to do so. Just now coming into its own, the 1995 delivers a stunning range of aromatic and flavor complexity, all supported by the tannins of the cold, slow maturing vintage. Layers of voluptuous fruit continue to flow effortlessly from a majestic Monte Bello that will deliver considerable pleasure over the next two decades. The 1995 has been nothing less than stunning the two times I have tasted it recently. The blend is 69% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. 97 points. Antonio Galloni. Tasted July 2013

1996 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
1 cs of six bottles @ £1,000.00 per 6 IB

Ridge’s 1996 Monte Bello is an absolute stunner. The bouquet evokes a top Left Bank Bordeaux in a great vintage. Not surprisingly, the Cabernet Sauvignon in the 1996 is very high at 80%. Every bit as compelling on the palate, the 1996 simply exudes class. I am not sure words alone can capture just how vivid the wine is at twenty years of age. Graphite, smoke, tobacco, licorice and a core of dark fruit unfold on the palate as the 1996 shows off its pedigree. Readers lucky enough to own it can look forward to another two decades plus of exceptional drinking. The 1996 is an uber-classic, Médoc-leaning Monte Bello. What a wine! 98 points. Antonio Galloni. Tasted July 2016

1997 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
3 cs of six bottles @ £900.00 per 6 IB
1 cs of three magnums @ £1,100.00 per 3 IB

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. Stephen Tanzer, September 20006

1999 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
2 cs of six bottles @ £700.00 per 6 IB

Fragrant, perfumed, fresh and cedary, still so fragrant and youthful on the nose. More Bordeaux-like than the other two vintages tasted. Rich, deep and so complex but without loss of freshness. Again some minerality and cedary damson sweetness of fruit still there. Long and remarkably fresh. Holds your attention. 18 points. Julia Harding MW, jancisrobinson.com, December 2009

Bright ruby-red. Vibrant aromas of boysenberry, iron and mocha. Dense but tightly wound and not overly sweet; has a silky texture despite possessing a strong acid spine. Finishes with palate-cleansing acids and a late spicy character. This very young wine will need a good decade of cellaring, but even today there are no rough edges. 92+ points. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, May 2002

2000 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
5 cs of six bottles @ £700.00 per 6 IB
4 cs of twelve halves @ £720.00 per 12 IB
1 cs of three magnums @ £700.00 per 3 IB

Huge, rich and voluptuous, but backed up be serious structure, the 2000 is still a very, very young wine. Readers who own the 2000 should be thrilled. With time in the glass, the 2000 starts to open up a little bit aromatically, but the tannins remain imposing. Hints of tobacco, iron, smoke, savory herbs, leather and licorice all add nuance on the close. This dramatic, brooding Monte Bello will likely drink well for another three decades. In 2000, Montebello is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. 95 points. Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, July 2013

2006 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
4 cs of six bottles @ £780.00 per 6 IB

A dark, brooding beauty, the 2006 Monte Bello is still very, very young. The aromatics alone are enticing, but the tannins still need time to soften. The 2006 is a masculine, vertical Monte Bello that demands cellaring. Even so, it is pretty impressive today. Scents of lavender, sage, mint and savory herbs add closing flourishes. The perfumed sweetness of the fruit – one of the hallmarks of the very late harvest – remains one of the signatures of the 2006. The 2006 can be enjoyed today or cellared for another 25+ years. 95+ points. Antonio Galloni. Tasted June 2016

2011 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
1 cs of six bottles @ £600.00 per 6 IB
1 cs of one magnum @ £210.00 per single magnum IB

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. 94 points. Antonio Galloni. Tasted June 2015
**Available Summer 2017

2013 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz
3 cs of six bottles @ £725.00 per 6 IB

The 2013 Monte Bello is utterly spellbinding in its beauty. Finely sculpted and chiseled, with super-expressive aromatics and searing tannins, the 2013 is shaping up to be a modern-day classic. The 2013 is remarkably pure and vibrant for such a big wine. It will be years before the 2013 is close to being ready to drink. Even so, it is magnificent today. Where will the 2013 end up? The future seems limitless for now. Quite simply, the 2013 is a must-have wine. In 2013, Monte Bello is very heavy in Cabernet Sauvignon, partly because Merlot suffered in the drought-like conditions. The 2013 has already begun to shut down in bottle. Readers need to be in for the long haul. 98+ points. Antonio Galloni. Tasted June 2016
**Available Summer 2017

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