2013 Ridge Monte Bello, Santa Cruz, CA
Vintage : 2013
Country : USA
Region : Santa Cruz
Ridge Vineyards is a famed Californian wine producer founded in 1962, and based in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but with vineyards in several parts of the state. Its flagship wine, Monte Bello, is a Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated Bordeaux blend known for delivering the complexity and elegance of Bordeaux wines, as well as typical California fruit intensity.
It is also well known for its range of Zinfandel wines and Zinfandel-based blends, led by the Geyserville cuvée. Wines made from Petite Sirah, Carignan and a Grenache – Mataro blend have also been longstanding features in the range, and Ridge has made a small amount of Chardonnay each vintage for many decades.
In recent years the portfolio has expanded considerably. Newer additions include a Lytton Estate Rosé, a limited-release Mendocino Falanghina, and a trio of Rhône-variety white wines from Adelaida Vineyard in Paso Robles.
The renowned trio of vineyards, Monte Bello, Geyservillle and Lytton Springs account for the majority of Ridge's production, with the remainder coming from the estate's East Bench site and a number of key contract growers.
Montebello is situated at around 800m (2600ft) above sea level in the Santa Cruz Mountains, a few miles south of San Jose. The history of the Monte Bello vineyard and winery dates back to the 1880s.
All of the Bordeaux varieties are grown on the Monte Bello vineyard. Those plots that have been shown to provide the most ageworthy, complex wines go into the flagship wine, which bears the vineyard's name.
The remaining parcels, which tend to produce relatively approachable, youthful wines, are earmarked for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Blind tastings confirm the selection and the wines are blended over two sessions in the following February and May.
Klein Cabernet Sauvignon is a barrel selection from a part of the estate planted by the Alsatian Pierre Klein in the late 1880s. The Estate Chardonnay also comes from the Monte Bello Estate vineyards.
Geyserville is an estate (and township) located in the Alexander Valley AVA, Sonoma County. It lies more than 100 miles by car to the north of Monte Bello.
The property is owned by the Trentadue family who, since 1966, have sold grapes to Ridge for the single-site, Zinfandel-based wine of the same name. It is home to the oldest vines farmed by Ridge, with some in the "Old Patch" more than 130 years of age.
Lytton Springs is also known for powerful Zinfandel. It is located in Dry Creek Valley AVA, neighboring Alexander Valley to the west. Ridge first purchased grapes from 1972, then bought the estate outright in 1991.
Winemaking across the portfolio combines old-school techniques with sophisticated laboratory analysis to give early warnings of any problems. Ridge only uses native yeasts, and avoids filtration in favor of settling and racking with occasional egg-white fining.
Paul Draper, who joined Ridge in 1969, is one of the world's most celebrated winemakers. His awards include Decanter Man of the Year (2000), COPIA Award for winemaking (2004) and the James Beard Award (2007). In 2015, a Decanter Magazine poll of his peers voted him in the top five most admired winemakers in the world.
Complex aromas of blackberry, tobacco, roasted coffee bean and wintergreen. On the palate, concentrated plum layered with well-coated tannins, firm acidity, oak spice and notes of licorice on the long finish.
Abundant winter rainfall followed by warm spring weather created ideal growing conditions. With the exception of merlot, the vines set a big crop. Fortunately, a long warm summer fully ripened all varietals in early October. During blind tastings, a record forty-one separate lots were assembled to create this vintage of Monte Bello. Structured and opulent, it will be enjoyable for the next twentyfive to thirty years.
100 points Decanter
A Monte Bello for the ages, the 2013's brooding bouquet unfolds to reveal notes of black raspberry, juicy blackcurrant, burning embers and deep-pitched, rich soil tones. On the palate the wine is simply stunning, with a beautifully three-dimensional, refined tannic chassis. Analytically, this is the most tannic Monte Bello of the millenium, but that structure is clothed with a wealth of fruit—so much so that Ridge forwent their habitual egg white fining this year. Watch this profound wine begin to blossom after a decade in the cellar. (WK) (5/2016)
100 points James Suckling
Amazing aromas of flowers, blackberry, black currant and spices. Purple fruits. Full body, very dense and rich. Yet it has the Monte Bello agile energy and verve. Tannic and so fresh. The Monte Bello magic is here. Great to taste but it needs five or six years to come together. Be patient. An ageless wine for forever. (7/2017)
100 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Monte Bello is a very special vintage for this great wine. Amazingly, it has yet to shut down, unfurling in the glass to reveal a bouquet of black raspberries, cassis, rich espresso roast, cigar wrapper, subtle black truffle and burning embers that has already integrated its 100% new oak remarkably completely. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied, powerful and multidimensional, with a lavishly textural attack that segues into a stunningly layered, richly structured mid-palate endowed with incredible depth and concentration underpinned by succulent acids. The finish is long, vibrant and beautifully delineated. The 2013 is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot, and it attained 13.6% natural alcohol. Analytically, this ranks as one of the most tannic vintages of Monte Bello ever produced, but the tannins are of such high quality and cloaked in such a wealth of fruit that Ridge forwent their habitual egg white fining this year—beginning a trend that has continued since. This profound Monte Bello will begin to blossom as it reaches age ten and should prove practically immortal. (WK) (5/2018)