2017 Monte Bello, Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains

Critic score
99/100

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WINE DETAILS

  • Region & country
    Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Cruz County, California, USA
  • Grape
    78% Cabernet Sauvignon
    11% Petit Verdot
    6% Merlot
    5% Cabernet Franc
  • Maturity
    Young 2023 - 2043
  • Colour
    Red
  • Sweetness
    Dry
  • Style
    Still
  • Unit Volume
    Bottle (75cl.)
2017 Monte Bello, Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains

TASTING NOTES

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.

William Kelley, Wine Advocate
(98—100)/100
Ridge Vineyards

Wines have been made from vines planted on Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains for over 100 years: it was a spot that was immediately noted for its potential by winemaking pioneers. It was in 1976, however, that Ridge Vineyards was shot into the limelight with the 1971 Monte Bello, made by legendary winemaker Paul Draper, placing fifth in the Judgement of Paris tasting. Paul has since retired, but his philosophy of low-intervention, organic winemaking continues under Eric Baugher, ensuring the wines continue to express tons of character: they’re some of the most expressive wines we know. Over the years, Ridge have stayed true to their pioneering, individual style of Californian Cabernet: personifying elegance and restraint.

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