RIDGE 2018 Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon

97
Wine Spectator

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97 Points James Suckling - A bright and beautiful Monte Bello with dark and black fruit, such as blackcurrants, as well as walnuts and hints of vanilla. Full-bodied with creamy tannins that are there from start to finish. Turns lightly dusty. Beautiful length. Really pure and focused. Needs time to come together completely, but already a beauty.

97 Points Wine Spectator - Very expressive, with warmed blueberry compote, menthol, sweet bay, steeped açaí and zesty sassafras notes all in the mix, carried by brambly grip and a cold cast iron spine. Late echo of mesquite completes this remarkably complex and vivid offering. Should be fun to watch this develop in the cellar. *Collectibles*

94-97 Points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate -  I tasted the 2018 Monte Bello as a finished barrel sample during the annual Ridge Monte Bello Tasting Final Assemblage event; the blend was 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 11% Petite Verdot and 3% Cabernet Franc. It has a medium to deep ruby-purple color and youthfully primary nose with boysenberry, blueberry jam, blackcurrant, dark chocolate-covered cherries, cigar box, graphite, loamy earth and oodles of floral character. The palate is medium to full-bodied and packed full of flavor layers, knit by very fine, ripe, pixelated tannins and great freshness and finishing very long.

96 Points Vinous - The 2018 Monte Bello is a wine of extraordinary finesse. Although it doesn’t have the body or overt richness of some recent vintages, it more than makes up for that with its total sense of harmony. Lavender, mocha, spice, licorice and dried flowers all develop in a sublime, refined Monte Bello that will thrill Ridge lovers. This is an especially elegant, lithe vintage for Monte Bello that is marked by a dry year with no heat spikes and a very long harvest that wrapped up in late October.

96 Points Wine & Spirits - The youthful energy of this wine is breathtaking, as if channeling its proximity to the sky and the ocean in a combination of brightness and freshness, their power subsumed into supple fruit. It’s cabernet with a sense of freedom, its flavor extending skyward, not bound by the American oak in which it aged, or the black-plum flavor of the grapes grown on a high ridge of limestone in the Cupertino hills. Harvested from 23 parcels starting on September 28 and ending on October 18, this fermented as whole berries without added yeasts, then aged in new barrels, mostly American oak. If there’s an impression of delicacy, it might have more to do with the context of contemporary American cabernets: This is clean and elegant with no excess weight to stand in the way of the Monte Bello ridge, a formidable site with the power to grow long-lived and beautiful cabernet.

95 Points Jeb Dunnuck - The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello comes from a cooler, even, drought year and is based on 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. I believe it was aged all in American oak as always (I wouldn't be surprised if there was a French barrel in there) and hit 13.7% natural alcohol. Beautiful, and classic Monte Bello, notes of plums, cassis, and blueberries all give way to more vanilla oak, tobacco, cedar pencil, and violet aromas and flavors. A more elegant, streamlined, medium to full-bodied Monte Bello, it has beautiful tannins, perfect ripeness (not overripe nor underripe), flawless balance, and a great finish. It doesn't have the sheer grandeur or dimension of the 2017, but it's a seamless, incredibly elegant, compelling Monte Bello that will benefit from 4-6 years (it's stunning today with a healthy decant) and will certainly have 30 years of prime drinking.

95 Points Wine Enthusiast - This ever-classic blend of 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc begins with black plum, sandalwood and incense on the nose, offering a very forest vibe. Blackberry and tea-leaf flavors are wrapped in a firm tannic structure on the palate, with mahogany and more wood spice carrying through the finish. Drink 2022–2038. *Cellar Selection*

 

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