Benchmark Wines by

Ridge Vineyards

The Winery

Ridge Vineyards

Resting high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains is the Monte Bello vineyard where exquisite wines have been engrained in the estate’s distinguished history. The 180 acres of land was formerly purchased by Dr. Osea Perrone in 1855. The winery and vineyards were left untouched during the years of Prohibition, and later purchased and planted to Cabernet in 1949 by William Short. Ten years later, the estate was sold to three engineers from the Stanford Research Institute from which they produced a tiny amount of wine from the vines planted by Short. The success of that wine and the vintages that followed inspired Dave Bennion and his partners to restore this winery, and Ridge Vineyards was born.

Paul Draper joined the team in 1969 and with his knowledge of fine wine and traditional methods, helped guide Ridge vineyards to craft wines of consistent quality and international recognition. The 1971 Ridge Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon placed fifth at the 1976 Judgement of Paris. Among the prestigious awards Draper has earned, he is continuing to make rigorously classic and age worthy wines.

www.ridgewine.com

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Tasting Notes

WA99
A resoundingly great effort from this iconic producer, Ridge’s 2001 is a spectacular, still young but promising wine. Interestingly, 60% of the production from the winery’s 108 acre Monte Bello Vineyard made it into the 2001’s final blend (their 40th anniversary, by the way). The unusual blend is 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, a whopping 36% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. It also carries 14.2% alcohol, which is high for this estate. On the back label, the conservative Paul Draper writes that “5-8 years of bottle age will bring generous rewards, and 20 years will bring full maturity.” At age 10, it is still an infant in terms of development, and I would not be surprised to see this 2001 last 40 years. A dense ruby/purple color is accompanied by extravagant, generous aromas of pen ink, lead pencil shavings, spice box and black fruits. The wine is full-bodied and silky textured, but secondary nuances have not yet begun to develop as it is still very primary, tasting more like a 3-4 year old Monte Bello than one that is ten years of age. Nevertheless, it reveals spectacular concentration, a voluptuous texture, a rare opulence for a Ridge Monte Bello, and an incredible finish. The upside is enormous and this cuvee may prove somewhat atypical due to the huge percentage of Merlot in the final blend and the higher than normal alcohol. But make no mistake about this Monte Bello – it is a great wine. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2040.
WE97
Without doubt this is a wine to cellar. It’s massive in flavor, with the purist blackcurrant and cassis fruit you can imagine, and the huge plaster of sweet oak is perfectly balanced. Then there are the tannins. They’re fine and complex, but gritty. There’s an astringency throughout that a great steak will cut through, but it would be infanticide to open this before, say, 2010. Should improve through 2020 and beyond. Cellar Selection.

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