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    Stephen Tanzer Score

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Ridge Red Bordeaux Blend Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello 1999

Winemaker's Notes:

99 | USA | California

Ridge Vineyards:
The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone (third person on bench wearing tall boots), a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name... Read more
The history of Ridge Vineyards begins in 1885, when Osea Perrone (third person on bench wearing tall boots), a doctor who became a prominent member of San Francisco's Italian community, bought 180 acres near the top of Monte Bello Ridge. He terraced the slopes and planted vineyards; using native limestone, he constructed the Monte Bello Winery, producing the first vintage under that name in 1892. This unique cellar, built into the mountainside on three levels, is Ridge's production facility. At 2600', it is surrounded by the "upper vineyard." In the 1940s, William Short, a theologian, bought the abandoned winery and vineyard just below the Perrone property; he replanted several parcels to cabernet sauvignon in the late 1940s. From these vines — now the "middle vineyard"— new owners Dave Bennion and his three partners, all Stanford Research Institute engineers, made a quarter-barrel of "estate" cabernet. That Monte Bello Cabernet was among California's finest wines of the era. Its quality and distinctive character, and the wines produced from these same vines in 1960 and '61, convinced the partners to re-bond the winery in time for the 1962 vintage. The first zinfandel was made in 1964, from a small nineteenth-century vineyard farther down the ridge. This was followed in 1966 by the first Geyserville zinfandel. The founding families reclaimed the Monte Bello terraces, increasing vineyard size from fifteen to forty-five acres. Working on weekends, they made wines of regional character and unprecedented intensity. By 1968, production had increased to just under three thousand cases per year, and in 1969, Paul Draper joined the partnership. A Stanford graduate in philosophy—recently returned from setting up a winery in Chile's coast range—he was a practical winemaker, not an enologist. His knowledge of fine wines and traditional methods complemented the straightforward "hands off" approach pioneered at Ridge. Under his guidance the old Perrone winery (acquired the previous year) was restored, the finest vineyard lands leased or purchased, the consistent quality and international reputation of the wines established. Cabernet and zinfandel account for most of the production; syrah, grenache, carignane, and petite sirah constitute a small percentage. Known primarily for its red wines, Ridge has also made limited amounts of chardonnay since 1962. Lytton Springs, in Sonoma County, became part of the Ridge estate in 1991. A quarter century's experience with this vineyard had convinced us that it was an exceptional piece of ground. Forty consecutive vintages of Geyserville attest to yet another stunning combination of location and varietals. Though born in the early sixties to the post-Prohibition world of modern California winemaking, Ridge relies on nature and tradition rather than technology. Our approach is straightforward: find intense, flavorful grapes; intrude upon the process only when necessary; draw the fruit's distinctive character and richness into the wine. Read less

Member Reviews for Ridge Red Bordeaux Blend Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello

Add your review
Snooth User: ryanopaz
278311,619
0.00 5
08/08/2007

Deep black current nose with overtones of chocolate and coffee. This puppy needs a bit of air. In the mouth right away fine but very firm tannins with a medium acidity. After a couple of hours this wines nose remained dark fruit filled and intriguing. Black-raspberry jam, black cherries, and strong notes of cassias. Tannins never really left this wine and continued to provide a nice firm structure to hang the fruit on. Great roundness in the mouth and finish which lasted for a good minute afterwards, went a long ways to making the bottle last. Real treat. 4/5 [NR]


Snooth User: gabriellaopaz
40433236
0.00 5
02/23/2007

Deep, clear maroon color that speaks of its earthy and sexy nature. The nose is filled with pepper, dark forest berries, coffee and a slight bitter sweetness at the end that is incredibly inviting. On the palate, although I find it much more subtle than the nose, I am still star struck by not only its structure and balance, but also the mineral, blackberry and chocolate notes that peek out every so slightly. For me, an amazing and fun wine! 4.5


Snooth User: Gastro1
21574712
5.00 5
07/15/2009

My favourite American Cab Sav blend competes with the great Bordeaux and Paul Draper is a genius


Snooth User: leachus
6915322
5.00 5
07/08/2008

Five glasses


External Reviews for Ridge Red Bordeaux Blend Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello

External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
05/19/2011

The 2001 Monte Bello Proprietary Red Wine (the 40th anniversary of this cuvee) is a stunning blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. A saturated purple color to the rim accompanies gorgeous aromas of charred oak, black currants, and lilacs (or is it acacia flowers?). In the mouth, there is more of a roasted richness than is found in the 2000, as well as deep, classically structured, full-bodied, broad, expansive flavors of black and red fruits, espresso, and chocolate, and a spectacular finish. This Ridge Monte Bello is a tribute to a great winery that has never gone through an unsatisfactory period of winemaking, largely because of the perpetual brilliance of Paul Draper. This wine will require considerable patience. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2030.


External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
09/27/2011

The elegant structure of Monte Bello cabernet comes through in the 2003 bottling, built on mineral tannins, from vines grown in limestone. The fruit is completely black (it hints at blueberry as it takes on air), but the wine is not hyperripe. Structure supports it and lengthens the flavors; the lasting impression is clean and refreshing, which is something you can't say about most Napa Valley cabernets from '03.


External Review
Source: JJ Buckley Fine Wines
01/16/2009

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... Stephen Tanzer. A Cabernet Sauvignon wine from California in USA. 1999 Ridge Monte Bello 750ml


External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
05/19/2011

The 2004 Monte Bello (76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) reveals a similar dark ruby/purple color, but it is not as thick looking as the 2003 or 2005. A lighter, more elegant example of Monte Bello, the finesse-styled 2004 does not possess the power one normally sees in this wine. It offers pure fruit, a pretty, St.-Julien-like style, notes of cedar, spice box, herbs, background oak, and red as well as black currants, and silky tannin. It is capable of lasting 15-20 years.


External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
09/27/2011

Ridge's home vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains produces this classic California cabernet blend (69 percent cabernet sauvignon, 18 merlot, 10 petit verdot and 3 cabernet franc). It's a wine with power and drive, clearly oriented toward the character of the site rather than any particular varietal flavor or fruitiness. At this early stage in its development, the fruit comes across as a layering of colors, bright red, midnight blue, forest green, seeming to deny any reationship to the standard jargon of cabernet and speaking only about its own soil-driven personality. The tannins are firm and tough, with a soft, mellow underbelly. A little startling to taste so young, it's a wine to put away and savor in the coming decades.


External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
05/19/2011

Ripe and compact, with rich black cherry, plum, chocolate and cedar notes, focused and long on the finish. Has tannin to lose. Best from 2002 through 2009.


External Review
Source: Prestige Wine & Spirits
05/19/2011

Bright medium ruby. Highly complex aromas of currant, lead pencil, tobacco and chocolate. Rich, lush and deep, with full-blown, superripe flavors of cassis, black raspberry and chocolate. This has considerably more merlot than the 2002 (36%), and it shows it in its extravagantly creamy texture. Finishes with sweet tannins and outstanding length. I don't recall ever having tasted a Monte Bello as close to overripe as this one. But a compelling wine that's utterly voluptuous drinking already.


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